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An Analysis of Class Separation Gates Aboard the RMS Titanic: A Preliminary Report by Cathy Akers-Jordan Titanic Symposium Maine Maritime Acedemy April 24, 2004

A Night to Remember: 

A Night to Remember In the DVD commentary for ANTR Titanic Historian Don Lynch said that to his knowledge there were no passenger separation gates like those shown in the film Such gates are depicted in almost every film about Titanic

Research Questions: 

Research Questions Were there gates? If not, why do we think so? If so, what kind of gates? If so, where were they? If so, did gates prevent third class passengers from escaping as popularly believed/depicted in film?

Marschall Report: 

Marschall Report After extensive filming of the wreck in 2001 for Ghosts of the Abyss, Titanic Artist and Historian Ken Marschall wrote a detailed report of what they saw The report is available on-line through Parks Stephenson’s web site (http://titanic. The report does not mention passenger separation gates

Marschall Interview: 

Marschall Interview I e-mailed Ken to ask about the lack of gates He confirmed that They did not see any gates They did not explore many third-class areas of the wreck so seeing such gates was unlikely He had no evidence of the existence of such gates

Why do We Think There Were Gates?: 

Why do We Think There Were Gates? In the Titanic community, belief of the existence of gates is split (as a quick look at the Encyclopedia Titanica’s discussion boards indicates) If there were no gates, where did the idea come from?

Immigration Laws: 

Immigration Laws Immigration laws required locked barriers on immigrant ships to prevent the spread of disease (Stephenson par. 7; Wade 22) Ships not in compliance could be held in Quarantine for up to 40 days, until all passengers were medically examined (not just steerage) Such a delay was expensive and hurt a company’s reputation, so passenger segragation was taken seriously

Deck Plans & Bostwick Gates: 

Deck Plans andamp; Bostwick Gates Bostwick Gates are the folding gates depicted in films There are several sets of Titanic deck plans, but only the National Archives deck plans (used in the Liability Hearing) indicate the location of any Bostwick Gates Was this because they were so commonplace they were not worth mentioning?

Bostwick Gate LocationsE Deck: 

Bostwick Gate Locations E Deck Bostwick Gate in Crew Area Bostwick Gate in 3rd Class Area; Flooded Early, No One Trapped Thank you Bob Godfrey, Daniel Klistorner, and Scott Andrews (Encyclopedia Titanica members) for assistance and suggestions!

Walter Lord: 

Walter Lord A Night to Remember (1955) Most complete book about Titanic in 40 years Based on extensive survivor interviews, US and UK Inquiries, and other primary sources The first book many current enthusiasts read about Titanic Lord’s writing style may have led to assumptions about the type of gates and their contribution to third class passenger deaths

A Night to Remember: 

A Night to Remember Back cover: '…hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain…'

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'A few of the barriers that marked off their [third class] quarters were down. Those who came to these openings wandered into other parts of the ship. Some eventually found their way to the boat deck. But most of the barriers were not down, and the steerage passengers who sensed danger and aimed for the boats were strictly on their own resources' (66). 'Barriers,' not gates Barriers mostly up/closed

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'Many of the steerage men climbed another emergency ladder from the forward well deck, then up to the regular First Class companionway to the boats. Others beat on the barriers, demanding to be let though' (67). 'Barriers' refers to gates on B Deck, at the top of the ladders from the forward well deck Gates were waist-high but 'demanding to be let through' implied barriers couldn’t be climbed

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'As Third Class passenger Daniel Buckley climbed some steps leading to a gate in First Class, the man ahead of him was chucked down by a seaman standing guard. Furious, the passenger jumped to his feet and raced up the steps again. The seaman took one look, locked the gate and fled. The passenger smashed the lock and dashed through' (67). Refers to same gate as previous slide: waist-high gate on B deck (easy to climb), not a tall gate like those seen in films, but passenger went through, not over, the gate Juxtaposed with 'locked barriers' (previous slide/paragraph) may lead to conclusion that all barriers were gates and that none could be climbed

B Deck Gate at Forward Well Deck: 

B Deck Gate at Forward Well Deck Buckley’s Gate

Forward B Deck Gate Today: 

Forward B Deck Gate Today This gate is still easily visible in the wreck Seen in Imax films Titanica and Ghosts of the Abyss (and the companion book) This gate is still unlocked Lynch and Marschall (144).

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'At another barrier a seaman held back Kathy Gilnaugh, Kate Mullins, and Kate Murphy. […] Suddenly steerage passenger Jim Farrell, a strapping Irishman from the girls’ home county, barged up. ‘Great God, man!' he roared. ‘Open the gate and let the girls through!’ It was a superb demonstration of voice-power. To the girls’ astonishment the sailor meekly complied' (67). Lord uses 'barrier' and 'gate' to mean the same thing Location of this barrier/gate is not mentioned, but probably from the aft well deck to B Deck 'Let the girls through' implies gate can’t be climbed (i.e., that it is a tall gate) but like forward well deck gate, these are waist-high and easy to climb

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'Around 1:30 an officer opened the gate for First Class and ordered the women to the boat deck. At 2:00 men were allowed up too. Many now preferred to stay where they were -- this would clearly be the last point above water' (89). Probably refers to two gates on B Deck at ladders from aft well deck Like forward well deck gate, these are waist-high and easy to climb

B Deck Gates at Aft Well Deck: 

B Deck Gates at Aft Well Deck Gilnaugh, Mullins, and Murphy’s Gates (probably two gates)

A Night to Remember cont.: 

A Night to Remember cont. 'In fairness to White Star Line, these distinctions [class discrimination] grew not so much from a set policy as from no policy at all. At some points the crew barred the way to the Boat Deck; at others they opened the gates but didn’t tell anyone; at a few points there were well-meaning efforts to guide the steerage up. But generally Third Class was left to shift for itself. A few of the more enterprising met the challenge, but most milled helplessly about their quarters -- ignored, neglected, forgotten' (105-106). Horrible, but not the same as 'trapped below decks'

Walter Lord: 

Walter Lord The Night Lives On (1986) Written after discovery of wreck led to renewed public interest in Titanic Attempts to answers more questions about what happened April 14-15, 1912 Corrects or clarifies info from ANTR -- sometimes

The Night Lives On: 

The Night Lives On 'Single men were quartered in the bow, but during the day all Third Class passengers mingled on deck and in the various public rooms. They could go anywhere they liked, as long as they didn’t cross the barriers and gates that barred access to Second and First Class space' (84). Implies that 'barriers' and 'gates' were two different things and that either could be crossed

The Night Lives On cont.: 

The Night Lives On cont. 'Somehow Steward John E. Hart managed to collect a group of 30 [steerage passengers], and leading the way, he escorted them up the stairway to C Deck, across the open [aft] well deck, by the Second Class library, and into First Class space. Then on forward to the C Deck foyer, and finally up the staircase to the Boat Deck. The route seems to have been set in advance, for all the barriers were down, and here and there other stewards were posted to nudge them along' (86).

The Night Lives On cont.: 

The Night Lives On cont. Quote about Steward Hart cont. 'Barriers' seems to refer to open gates at well deck and open doors between Second and First Class sections All barriers down Based on Hart’s testimony in British Inquiry (10151-10175 ) This is the steerage escape route described by Wilding in British Inquiry (19908-19920).

The Night Lives On cont.: 

The Night Lives On cont. 'Berk Pickard, a 32-year-old leather worker from London, found a door to Second Class wide open, easily made his way to an early boat. Kathy Gilnaugh, a 15-year-old colleen had no such luck. When she and two friends tried to pass through the gate to Second Class from the after well deck, they found it closed and guarded. It took some powerful persuasion by Jim Farrell, a strapping lad from Kathy’s home county, to persuade the guard to open it long enough for the girls to slip through' (87). Bert’s 'barrier' was a door Kathy’s gate confirmed on B Deck at ladders from aft well deck

The Night Lives On cont.: 

The Night Lives On cont. 'Olas Abelseth and four friends, all from Norway, waited for what seemed an eternity in the after well deck. The barriers leading to Second Class were closed, and they whiled away the time watching the more agile steerage passengers climb up a crane, crawl out on the boom, and drop safely into First Class, the ultimate goal of everyone. At last an officer opened the barrier and called for the women and children to go to the Boat Deck. A little later he called for ‘Everybody’' (87). 'Barriers' refers to B Deck gates

B Deck Gates at Aft Well Deck: 

B Deck Gates at Aft Well Deck Gilnagh, Mullins, and Murphy’s Gates Olas Abelseth saw passengers climb the cranes Steward Hart led steerage passengers up the ladders to Second Class Probable location of gates

Lord: Conclusions: 

Lord: Conclusions Most 'gates' and 'barriers' refer to B Deck gates (waist-high, easy to climb, and eventually unlocked) Only 'trapped below decks' is on back cover of ANTR Writing style might lead reader to believe gates were full-size (as depicted in film) instead of waist-high

Survivor Testimony: 

Survivor Testimony Some passengers wrote memoirs (Lawrence Beesley, Col. Archibald Gracie) Others testified in US and/or UK Inquiries (Daniel Buckley, Olas Abelseth, Berk Pickard) Some testified and wrote books many years later (Charles Lightoller) General Assumption: testimony close to the time of the disaster is more accurate than that which was written later, even if by the same person (Charles Lightoller, Anna Thomas)

Lawrence Beesley: 

Lawrence Beesley The Loss of the S.S. Titanic: Its Story and Its Lessons (1912) 2nd Class Passenger in cabin D 56 Based on his experience, US andamp; UK Inquiries Consultant on film ANTR

Lawrence Beesley: 

Lawrence Beesley 'Another interesting man was traveling in steerage, but had placed his wife in the second cabin; he would climb the stairs leading from steerage to the second deck and talk affectionately with his wife across the low gate which separated them' (qtd. in Winocour 21). Low gate, not a full gate Probably B Deck Gate at aft well deck (Gilnaugh, Mullins, and Murphy’s Gate) The couple might be Olga Elinda Lundin and Nils Johansson or Susan Webber and Lewis and/or Owen Braud

Edwinna Troutt: 

Edwinna Troutt Second Class passenger in cabin E 101 Shared a cabin with two other single women, Susan Webber and Nora Keane Winnie commented that 'Susan spent most of her time talking over the gate between Second and Third Class' to Lewis and/or Owen Braud, fellows from her hometown (qtd. in Geller 104). Low gate, not a full gate Probably B Deck Gate at aft well deck (Gilnaugh, Mullins, and Murphy’s Gate), as mentioned by Beesley

Archibald Gracie: 

Archibald Gracie The Truth About the Titanic (1913) 1st Class Passenger in cabin C 51 Based on his experience, US and UK Inquiries, and extensive survivor interviews and letters

Archibald Gracie cont.: 

Archibald Gracie cont. After the collision 'From the first cabin quarter, forward on the port side […] I made a complete tour of the [Boat] deck, searching every point of the compass with my eyes. Going toward the stern, I vaulted over the iron gate and fence that divide the first and second cabins' (qtd. in Winocour 124). These gates separate First and Second Class portions of the Boat Deck Gate waist-high, easy to jump

Archibald Gracie cont.: 

Archibald Gracie cont. Gracie was on the starboard side as the bow went under, running aft, and 'there arose before us from the decks below, a mass of humanity several lines deep covering the Boat Deck, facing us, and completely blocking our passage towards the stern. […] Instantly when they saw us and the water on the deck chasing us from behind, they turned in the opposite direction towards the stern. This brought them at that point plumb against the iron fence and railing that divide the first and second cabin passengers' (qtd. in Winocour 138).

Boat Deck Gates: 

Boat Deck Gates Probable location of gates Gracie Probably Jumped One of These Gates Gracie was here, near corner of officers’ house, but this gate does not separate 1st andamp; 2nd class! Did Gracie think crew area was 1st class? Did Gracie mean one of these gates trapped the 'mass of humanity'? Could he see that far in the dark?

Berk Pickard: 

Berk Pickard Steerage passenger, cabin 10 in the stern (deck not indicated) Testified privately to Sen. Smith, US Inquiry, Day 14 After the collision the passengers got dressed and went out on deck 'and we could not get back again. I wanted to go back to get my things but I could not. The steward would not allow us to go back. They made us all go forward on deck. There were no locked doors to prevent us from going back' (1054-55).

Berk Pickard cont.: 

Berk Pickard cont. 'I said to myself that if the ship had to sink, I should be one of the last. That was my first idea, which was best. I went and found a door. There are always a few steps from this third class, with a moveable door, [sic] and it is marked there that second class passengers have no right to penetrate there. I found this door open' (1055). Location unknown, but probably E, F, or G Deck Doors between Second and Third class open

Survivor Testimony: Conclusions: 

Survivor Testimony: Conclusions Gates are the same kind mentioned by Lord (waist-high, easy to climb or jump) All gates are on Boat Deck or B Deck Most gates/barriers unlocked Gracie has the only evidence of people being 'trapped' by gates Ironic because it’s Reported by a First Class passenger (not Third Class) On the Boat Deck, not below decks as popularly believed

Were They Trapped?: 

Were They Trapped? If only Gracie has evidence of passengers trapped by gates, why did so many Third Class passengers die?

Social Barriers: 

Social Barriers Strong class system (similar to UK today) Third class used to being treated different from First and Second Thought they had same chance of escape as the classes, as Abeseth (1040), Buckely (1021-22), and Pickard (1056) testified in American Inquiry Third class used to following directions, so those who lacked initiative died Those who helped themselves survived, as Gracie said (Winocour 136) True of all classes, but especially Third Class

Other Barriers: 

Other Barriers Language barrier Literacy barrier (even some English-speaking immigrants could not read) Third class areas a confusing 'maze of passages' (Lord ANTR 65) Reluctance of families to separate, including English-speaking families

Conclusion: The Myth: 

Conclusion: The Myth Although there is no evidence that Third Class passengers were trapped below by gates and died, several factors contributed to this belief:

Conclusion: The Myth cont.: 

Conclusion: The Myth cont. Class segregation required by immigration law Wild stories published between Titanic’s sinking and Carpathia’s arrival in New York Gracie’s 'mass of humanity' trapped by gate on Boat Deck Cabins locked to prevent looting, mentioned by Gracie (Winocour 129) and others Unverifiable rumors that French/Italian restaurant staff locked in cabins and left to die

Conclusion: The Gate Myth cont.: 

Conclusion: The Gate Myth cont. Victims’ families fear that loved ones were trapped in WT compartments Didn’t understand purpose of WT compartments Expressed fear to Sen. Smith, which led to ignorant questions in American Inquiry Perpetuated by Walter Lord’s writing style Folk songs (such as 'It was Sad When That Great Ship Wend Down') Films (for dramatic/tragic effect)

Areas for Further Research: 

Areas for Further Research Passenger segregation on other ships, including other lines Survivor stories, especially Third class Those not collected in books Written in 1912 or close to it


Bibliography Biel, Stephen. Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster. New York: Norton, 1996. ---. Titanica: The Disaster of the Century in Poetry, Prose, and Song. New York: Norton, 1998. Gellis, Judith B. Titanic: Women and Children First. New York: Norton, 1998. Hyslop, Donald, Alastair Forsyth, and Sheila Jemima. Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

Bibliography cont.: 

Bibliography cont. Lord, Walter. A Night to Remember. New York: Bantam Books, 1955. ---. The Night Lives On. New York: Avon Books, 1985. Lynch, Don and Ken Marschall. Ghosts of the Abyss: A Journey into the Heart of the Titanic. Toronto: Madison Press Books, 2003.

Bibliography cont.: 

Bibliography cont. Marschall, Ken. 'James Cameron’s Titanic Expedition 2001: What We Saw On and Inside the Wreck.' Marconigraph. © 2001 by Ken Marschall. July 31, 2003. andlt;http://titanic. mgy_cameron1.htmlandgt; Stephenson, Parks. 'Sparks’s Titanic FAQs: Procedure.' Marconigraph. © 2002 by Parks Stephenson. Nov. 13, 2003 andlt;http://titanic.;. Thomas, Jospeh L. Grandma Survived the Titanic. Victoria, Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2002.

Bibliography cont.: 

Bibliography cont. US Senate Inquiry. Investigation into the Loss of SS Titanic. Washington, 1912. Titanic Inquiry Project. Rob Ottmers, ed. Copyright© 1999-2002: Titanic Inquiry Project. 5 Sept. 2003 andlt;;. Wade, Wyn Craig. The Titanic: End of a Dream. New York: Penguin Books, 1979. Winocour, Jack, ed. The Story of Titanic as Told by Its Survivors. New York: Dover, 1960.

Bibliography cont.: 

Bibliography cont. 'Wreck Commissioners' Court Proceedings.' Titanic Inquiry Project. Rob Ottmers, ed. Copyright© 1999-2002: Titanic Inquiry Project. 5 Sept. 2003 andlt; BOT01.htmlandgt;.

Thank You: 

Thank You If you have any information, ideas, or suggestions, please feel free to contact me: (home) (work)

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