I still had my library copy of Titanic: Voices from the Disaster on hand, so I went back and examined the charts in the back. And I think you’re (at least partly) wrong.

I agree that the charts are badly labeled, and therein, I think, lies the problem. But I got out my calculator, and all the numbers add up: it just isn’t always clear what numbers you’re looking at. Which, I agree, is a problem in and of itself.

First of all, these charts include only passengers, not crew, so the total numbers seem a bit low, but they’re not.

The first chart is for third-class passengers only. The columns list men, women and children saved and  men, women, and children lost. The rows indicate the number of British, non-British, and those who boarded at Cherbourg and at Queenstown. The totals add up to 181 third-class passengers saved and 528 lost, out of a total of 709 third-class passengers.

This is followed by some text about the number of children/infants on board, and the statement that “Overall there were a total of 1,317 passengers on board. First class 324; Second class 284 (including 8 band members); Third class 709.”

Then there is a statement that “Of those 524 were women and children.” Which apparently means “of those 1317 passengers, 524 were women and children.” Then follows a chart showing what happened to the women and children: the columns are the classes, and the rows are “saved” and “lost.” So, out of 148 first-class women and children, 143 were saved (or 96.6%) and 5 were lost. In second class, 105 out of 117 women and children were saved, or 89.7%. In third class, 121 out of 259 women and children were saved, or 46.7%. The percentages (which I checked), are given in the text below the chart. And the totals are right: 148+117+259=524.

The third chart is for men, and again has them listed by class (columns) and saved/lost (rows). So 58 out of 176 first-class men (33%) were saved; 118 were lost. In second class, 13 out of 167 (7.8%) were saved and 154 were lost. In third class, 60 out of 450 (13.3%) were saved and 390 were lost.

Then there’s some more text that tells us that 369 women and children and 131 men were saved, for a total of 500, or 38% of passengers. And that’s all there in the charts: 143+105+121+58+13+60=500.

I think the lesson here is that when making charts to show data, especially in a book that is aimed at people who don’t have a lot of experience in reading charts, it is important to label and explain them carefully. At the top of the page, she notes: “Created by Lester Mitcham and used with permission.” I just went and looked up the citation Hopkinson lists on this page and discovered that she pretty much just took everything straight from the website, and he doesn’t have things labeled very well, either. I think in her situation, I would have redone the charts to make them more clear, then cited Mitcham as the data’s source.

Finally, two things: First, sorry for mixing up your having not read the Lord book with your not having seen the movie. Of course you’ve seen the movie, and I should have remembered! And second, I really like your conspiracy theory with the zombies!

– Mom



Filed under Books, Movies, Teens

9 responses to “Backmatter

  1. Mark Flowers

    Thanks for giving me all the details. There’s a waiting list on the book at my library so it would have taken too long for me to track down the numbers.

    Given what you’ve said, I think my problem must have been with the poor labelling – I must have thought one table referred to something different and therefore added the numbers wrong. Still a problem, but perhaps more of a minor one.

  2. Lisa Sandell

    By way of introduction, I was the editor of TITANIC: VOICES FROM THE DISASTER by Deborah Hopkinson. I am extremely grateful for your thoughtful consideration and discussion of this book. Writing it was a tremendous challenge, as the volume of information about the Titanic is immense and, often, narratives and facts differ. Deborah was painstaking in her research and I think her achievement is commendable. Like you, we realized–unfortunately, after the first edition had printed–that the TITANIC STATISTICS: WHO LIVED AND WHO DIED charts on pages 254-255 were confusing. We did correct this for the next printing, which is already available, and the revised charts are much clearer. We inserted a label at the top of page 254 that reads “Passengers and crew on board when the Titanic left Queenstown” so readers would understand that the charts apply to both crew members and passengers, and then broke the statistics down into four separate charts: one for men, one for women, one for children, and one of totals. The statistics for the men and women are broken down into 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class, sub-total men/women passengers, sub-total men/women crew, and total men/women. Children are broken down into 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class, total children; and the totals follow with: 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class, total passengers, total crew, and total on board. I hope this helps to clarify. You provide such an important service to young readers—thank you for that. And thank you again for your attention to Deborah’s book.

  3. Pingback: Thematic Inaccuracies | crossreferencing

  4. wendyb79

    Oh, thank goodness. Because I had, AGAIN, put more time than I really wanted into trying to understand that #@$(% chart. Sarah’s explanation still wasn’t working for me. I think “confusing” is an understatement (as opposed to “wrong” or “mislabeled” or “typographical errors”), but I’d have to look at the revised charts to be sure. Now the question is–since the revised pages are already completed and already published, do we give any weight to this at all in the Newbery discussion? I’d be happy to leave it behind if the new charts are satisfactory… but as it stands, this is more egregious to me than pretty much any of the things people have pointed out in other books. (“Film camera” as opposed to “video camera”? Yawn.)

    • Mark Flowers

      Yeah it’s an interesting issue, since future readers of the book will be essentially reading a “different” book. I think I agree that we can leave it out of the discussion if the new charts make sense.

      I’m especially unmoved by the video camera remark (for others: this is a mistake in WE’VE GOT A JOB, mentioned in a comment over on Heavy Medal – there were no video cameras at the time of the Children’s march) because in contemporary English, the word “video” has basically lost all connection to reality of physical magnetic tape. We refer to digital cameras as being able to “video” something, so why not a film camera “videoing” something?

      • wendyb79

        Exactly! But as you and Sarah discuss, we all bring our own interests/knowledge to the table and something that doesn’t matter to me at all will seem like a very important thing to you, and vice versa. There’s a lot of “How much does it really matter?” balancing to do. I try to save it for when it affects the plot/message/theme… or when it’s so egregious, the average person would know the difference. The worst–in my opinion–is when facts/reality are manipulated to serve the plot. Looking at One for the Murphys there.

  5. Lisa Sandell

    I have a scan of the revised pages 254-255, which I’m happy to send for your review. Unfortunately, I can’t see a way to attach it here. If someone can instruct me, I’d love to email or post them. Thanks!

  6. Pingback: More on the Titanic Tables | crossreferencing

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