Rare Look at the Titanic: Handwritten Letters From Passengers Discovered

A collection of extraordinary photographs and handwritten letters from Titanic passengers have surfaced this week.

The archive was acquired from descendants of John and Nelle Pillsbury Snyder who were some of the first people to board lifeboats and later rescued on that fateful day of April 15, 1912.

The Snyders were returning from their honeymoon when the tragedy struck. The Titanic was severely damaged after making contact with an iceberg along the Atlantic Ocean. The couple was some of the few people to survive the journey, and were rescued by the first ship on the scene, the Carpathia.

Among the letters is a first-hand detailed account of the Titanic sinking and the aftermath.

John Snyder wrote that “a bump” had woken him, and described thinking that putting on a life vest was only a precaution.

“We were almost the very first people placed in a lifeboat. Only very few people were on deck at the time and they thought it much safer to stay on the big boat than try the life boat,” wrote Snyder.

The historic boat took under three hours to completely disappear into the ocean, which Snyder watched from afar.

“Finally the bow went under – that was the finest boat in the world was doomed- we hit between 11:40 and 11:50 and the Titanic sunk at 2:22 in the morning.”

Many of the photographs in the collection are of the lifeboats as seen from the rescue ship Carpathia, and one even displays an iceberg that could have been responsible for the damage done to the Titanic. In the photos, the icy ocean can be seen, making the picture seem ever more chilling.

Adding to the collection are letters typed from Frank Snyder, John Snyder’s father, describing his perspective of the shipwreck.

“As you can well imagine we have been under a pretty severe strain for the past three or four days on account of the wrecking of the Titanic on which boat John and Nelle sailed,” wrote Snyder to his brother Fred.

On Oct. 22 the collection will be sold by Phillip Weiss Auctions, with the current minimum bid is $36,000.