Dr Frank Hamlin Blackmarr

Date of birth: 23rd January 1888
Residence: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation: Doctor
Age: 24
Date of death: Wednesday 15th October 1958 aged 70

Dr Frank Blackmarr worked as a physician in Chicago and was a passenger onboard the Carpathia when it received the distress signal from the Titanic.

Blackmarr: Titanic Officer's SignaturesAutograph hunter or researcher?

Dr Frank Blackmarr was a passenger onboard the Carpathia, and alerted by Marconi operator Harold Cottam of the Titanic's collision, went on to record his observations and document the ensuing rescue. He was one of the first to give details of the sinking to the press - most likely without Captain Rostron's permission as he noted on the wireless receipt that he had to "bribe the operator to get this out." The message was published in the Chicago Tribune on the 18th April, 1912: "Carpathia picked up seven hundred Titanics mostly women Over. Two thousand lost iceberg Continuous mass twenty five mile Chicagoans this ship well Dr F. h. Blackmarr."

Blackmarr created a scrapbook from the statements and illustrations he collected during the return journey to New York. After his death in 1958, the scrapbook was rediscovered and sold in 1998 by Gunning's Auctions of Elgin for $50,000. One of the items to come to light were two sheets of stationery upon which are the signatures of Titanic's four surviving officers: Lightoller, Pitman, Boxhall and Lowe. Each also provided their address. It seems likely that he intended to remain in contact to possibly take witness accounts, as they were perhaps, unlike some passengers and crew, unwilling to do so aboard the Carpathia. There is no record of him contacting the officers after they arrived in New York. However, he would later use these notes to give lectures, as well as publish several articles. These sheets were once displayed at the Smithsonian’s Fire and Ice Exhibition.

(Click image to enlarge)

The pencil signatures of the four officers are on two off-white 8.5 x 5.5 sheets of Dr. Frank H. Blackmarr’s personal stationery. It reads:

J. Groves Boxhall, ‘Manora’ Westbourne Ave., Hull, England,
4th Officer of the late 'Titanic'

C. H. Lightoller, Nikko Lodge, Netley Abbey, Hants,
2nd offr. of late SS ‘Titanic,’

H. G. Lowe, Penrallt, Barmouth, N. Wales, England,
5th Officer S. S. ‘Titanic.’

(Click image to enlarge)

The second sheet has Pitman's details, which read:

H. J. Pitman, C/o W. H. Taylor, Castle Cary, Somerset,
3rd officer S/S Titanic

These signatures and addresses of the Titanic's four surviving officers, must have been collected aboard the Carpathia between the 15th and 18th of April 1912 and, as such, is the earliest post-disaster document from any of them known to exist. The information is written on Blackmarr's patient medical cards and appears to be in the officer's own hand writing. It seems that Boxhall, the first to arrive aboard the Carpathia, is the first to write his details, followed by Lightoller and Lowe, and Pitman writes his name on a seperate sheet. Boxhall would later fall ill with pleurisy so it is perhaps plausible that Boxall sought Blackmarr's assistance at some point during their journey, which initiated Blackmarr's contact with the four officers.

It is interesting to note that none of the officers provide a street number in their address. Boxhall, who had written "29 Westbourne Avenue, Hull" in Titanic's Crew Agreement document here simply puts "Manora" presumably the name of the house. Lightoller and Lowe do similarly. Also all of the officers except for Boxhall affix "S.S." in front of "Titanic", rather than "R.M.S." - likely a common habit for deck officers in documents of the time. Two of the officers already note the loss of the ship - Boxhall and Lightoller both write "late Titanic."

But the question remains: Did Blackmarr collect these signatures and details in the form of an autograph - an historic souvenir to add to his scrapbook? Or did he intend to contact them later?

Lightoller (middle) talks with Captain Arthur Rostron (right) on board R.M.S. Carpathia looked on by the ship's Chief Officer Hankinson

The four surviving Titanic officers, in a signed studio photograph, on their return to England. It is one of two only known photographs of the officers together. From left: Fifth officer Lowe, Third officer Pitman, Second officer Lightoller and Fourth officer Boxhall. (Click image to enlarge)