In December 1997, I learned of the last Illinois (U.S.) TITANIC survivor: Mrs. Eleanor Ileen Johnson [Shuman]. She was the sixth-to-last survivor, at the time, and one of only three living in the United States. Born in 1910, Miss Johnson was almost two years-old, aboard the TITANIC with her mom and brother when the ship sank. They were returning from Sweden.
Not only was I able to locate Mrs. Johnson, she invited me to tape at her in Elgin, IL home, December through January 1997-98. I immediately began exhaustive research. Just eight weeks later, Mrs. Johnson died. I had inadvertently produced her last interview. From that footage, I documented the Johnson family adventure and a brief secondary story of Black TITANIC passengers, all facts based on eyewitnesses, survivor's relatives, journals, and British Board Inquiry records.
This project has been a near-obsession (with the legend of TITANIC). I have collected 40 books; purchased artifacts; viewed the 1953, 1997 films & the 1979 made-for-TV movie; spent months browsing microfilm at the Harold Washington Library; researched countless period newspapers & magazines; and watched numerous documentaries about TITANIC (including the 1958-"A Night to Remember" over 100 times).
I am an EMMY® Awardee, and a former Assistant Principal & Adjunct City College Media Professor, with History & Social Studies endorsements and 20+ years of Illinois Elementary school teaching experience. Currently, I am a published photojournalist and writer.
After more than a decade of meticulous investigation of little-known facts of traveler's premonitions, ship's flaws, class prejudice, and other relevant information, I offer this preview of a yet unfinished work on the 100th anniversary of the RMS TITANIC tragedy ... dedicated to those for whom there were no lifeboats.
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