Tuesday was the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The luxurious ocean liner, on her maiden voyage to New York from Southampton, UK, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank within three hours. More than 1,500 lives were lost out of the 2,200 passengers onboard. The iceberg which sank the Titanic was initially spotted approximately 500 meters away; however, despite the effort to turn and slow down the ship, the starboard (right) side was hit below the water line at about 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. At 2:20 a.m. on April 15, the Titanic split in half, then sank minutes later. Although several ocean liners received the Titanic’s distress call, none were close enough to save those in peril.
When word spread about the Titanic disaster, newspapers were quick to communicate the latest news to the stunned public, but many stories provided inaccurate numbers on how many people survived. In total, 712 passengers were rescued and made it to New York on the RMS Carpathia three days after the rescue. Here’s a selection of the Newseum’s historic front pages reporting on the Titanic sinking; we also have original copies of some papers on display in our News Corp. New History Gallery.
Image credit: Newseum Collection
Today is the 154th anniversary of the opening of the Pony Express in 1860. As a link to the days of the Old West, the Pony Express continues to offer a glimpse into one of the most colorful and exciting times in American history. From St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., the mail service route was a risky journey for its riders, with impending dangers such as thieves, sickness and harsh weather conditions along the 2000 mile-long trail.
Founded by William H. Russell, William B. Waddell and Alexander Majors, the Pony Express consisted of 200 stations across the American landscape where relays of men riding horses and carrying saddlebags of letters stopped to restock on provisions and firearms and hand off their mail to a new rider. Needing a faster mail delivery service between the East and West, the Pony Express became a relied-upon channel of delivering news to California. However, the service only lasted 19 months. With the completion of the Pacific Telegraph line in October 1861, the Pony Express was no longer needed, though it was not until November that the last few letters completed their journey.
Approximately 80 young men delivered mail for the Pony Express, and they were required to sign a pledge agreeing that they would not swear, fight or drink alcohol.
While short-lived, the Pony Express reminds us of a time where news traveled only as fast as a rider on horseback!
Image credit: National Archives and Records Administration
March 22 is the birthday of Allen H. Neuharth, founder of USA Today, the Freedom Forum and the Newseum. Neuharth would have been 90 years old on Saturday.
As one of the most influential figures in journalism and the newspaper business, Neuharth left behind an enduring legacy centered on educating young journalists after his death in April 2013, including the Newseum’s annual Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. In addition to founding USA Today, one of the nation’s most circulated newspapers, Neuharth was also an author and columnist who wrote on a variety of subjects, such as sports and politics.
In 1991, Neuharth founded the Freedom Forum, a nonpartisan foundation that champions the five freedoms of the First Amendment. As a major funder of the Newseum, the Freedom Forum by way of Neuharth offers visitors a state of the art experience that blends news history with up to the second technology and hands on exhibits all while underscoring the importance of a free press.
Credit: Courtesy of USA Today
You can see Neuharth’s own manual typewriter (as pictured above) on display at the Newseum in the News Corp. News History Gallery!
Credit: James P. Blair/Newseum/Gift, Al Neuharth
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the launch of People magazine, with actress Mia Farrow gracing the front cover of the March 4, 1974, issue. To celebrate the inaugural edition of one of the country’s most popular weekly magazines, check out this retro trivia board game from the Newseum collection!
From the box:
“The rich. The famous. The powerful. They’re today’s people — making today’s news. Everyone wants to know as much about them as possible. And most likely, you’re no exception.
But how much do you really know about today’s famous people?
Adapted from the ever-popular People Weekly magazine, this fast-paced, fascinating game is sure to provide the answer whenever the question is fun.”
Credit: People Weekly: The Trivia Game with Personality, Parker Brothers, 1984, Newseum Collection
Today marks the 21st anniversary of the start of the 50 day standoff between federal agents and David Koresh’s Branch Davidian community near Waco, Texas. On February 28, 1993 The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided Koresh’s compound searching for illegal weapons. The raid went south, with four ATF agents and five Davidians killed in the gunbattle. Soon after, the FBI was brought in but Koresh refused to surrender. Under political and media pressure, the FBI was authorized by the U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to use tear gas to end the standoff, resulting in a massive fire. In all, 80 Davidians died, including 25 children. News reports questioned the FBI’s tactics suggesting that the FBI agents caused the fire, however, a government inquiry ultimately exonerated the FBI from any wrongdoing.
At the Newseum is FBI agent Jim McGee’s body armor, flight suit, helmet and leather boots. McGee received the FBI Medal of Valor – the bureau’s highest award for bravery – for his rescue of a Branch Davidian woman, who had jumped from the burning building, and then, disoriented, wandered back inside. McGee ran after her and dragged her from the building, which moments later collapsed.
Credit: James P. Blair/Newseum/Courtesy SSA James A. McGee, retired FBI/HRT
Each February, we celebrate Black History Month, an annual celebration of notable contributions African Americans have made in U.S. history. To this day, Frederick Douglass remains one of these prominent figures as he dedicated his life to fighting for equality and justice for African Americans, women and minority groups. Committed to achieving freedom for all, Douglass took on many roles as an abolitionist, advocate for equal rights, newspaper editor and government official.
Image credit: Library of Congress
On display at the Newseum is Frederick Douglass’ pocket watch and a reprint of Douglass’ third and final autobiography: “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass,” (1893) which was first published in 1881. Douglass wrote his first autobiography in 1845, after audiences who had heard his anti-slavery speeches doubted that he had ever been a slave.
Artifacts are from the Newseum collection