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Topics in Chronicling America - Sinking of the Lusitania

Despite published newspaper articles warning against travel on Allied ships, the RMS Lusitania departed from New York on May 1, 1915, bound for Liverpool. As the ship sailed near Ireland on May 7, it was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank, killing over 1,100 people on board. A later British investigation into the incident ruled that the Lusitania was attacked with the intent to kill civilians, as the ship did not carry explosives. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

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Important Dates:

  • February 4, 1915: Germany declares the water surrounding the British Isles a war zone and warns that all Allied ships will be attacked.
  • April 22, 1915: The German Embassy publishes a warning in some newspapers to tell passengers that travel on Allied ships is “at their own risk.” The Lusitania, a is mentioned specifically in some of the discussion about the warning in the week leading up to its departure.
  • May 7, 1915: The Lusitania is torpedoed and sinks, killing over 1300 passengers including more than 130 Americans.
  • June 15, 1915: The Board of Trade begins its investigation into the sinking. The claim by German forces that the ship had been armed is ruled untrue at the end of the trial in mid-July.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Lusitania, Berlin Decree, German Embassy warning.
  • To narrow the results, include specific dates (such as February 4, 1915) or date ranges (May 1-31, 1915).

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  March 25, 2013
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