More than 200,000 Titanic records published online
Published Monday, April 9, 2012 11:28AM EDT
More than 200,000 records related to the Titanic have been published online ahead of the 100th anniversary of the legendary ship's sinking.
The collection includes the ill-fated vessel's passenger list, information about crew members, coroner files and records about recovered bodies.
Genealogy website Ancestry.com has released the data to coincide with the centennial of the ship's sinking on April 15. Though the site requires a subscription, access to the records is free until May 31.
Among the records are two databases that connect the "unsinkable ship" and its passengers to Canada's eastern shores.
One catalogue features headstone photographs of 121 victims buried at Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, N.S. Another pulls data from the Nova Scotia Archives, revealing coroner inquest files and 330 records about bodies that were recovered from the wreck.
It may sound grim to read descriptions of cadavers but Dan Jones of Ancestry.com says the records have a practical purpose.
"As the years have passed, many generations have lost information that would confirm relatives who may have been aboard," the site's vice-president of global content said in a prepared statement.
Jones said the newly published documents may help readers solve some ancient family mysteries.
But the records also indulge the curiosity of those who simply want to know more about the 2,200 some-odd people who were onboard the vessel when it took off for New York from Southhampton, England.
The documents include references to American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV, businessman Benjamin Guggenheim and Macy's department store co-owner Isador Straus -- all of whom were on board the ship when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sunk within hours.
Movie buffs may be interested in mentions of Margaret "Molly" Brown, whose reputed charisma inspired a 1964 fictionalized account of the Titanic survivor's life. Brown was also referenced in James Cameron's 1997 romantic epic "Titanic."
Other records include a passenger list from the HMS Carpathia, which rushed to help when it heard the Titanic's distress call. There's also a report detailing the "Deaths of American Citizens Abroad" between 1835 and 1974.
Many other tributes to the RMS Titanic's sinking in 1912 have been arranged, including a commemorative cruise retracing its route and the re-release of Cameron's "Titanic" in 3D.