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The facts of this voyage as told in the narrative nonfiction book Halfway to America are true. Nearly all the people are real. A few very minor people were given fictitious names because specific identities have not been established yet. The narrative makes every effort to maintain as much accuracy as possible with the available documents. All the facts were taken from records such as government documents and newspaper articles in America and Europe. Narrative nonfiction, or literary nonfiction, is a true story written in as a novel. This literature genre uses facts told as a story. Narrative nonfiction must remain as accurate to the truth as possible based on the known facts.

Like all events, particularly disasters, even eyewitness accounts of this catastrophe were varied. Memories are embedded with emotions, and they vastly range from individual to individual. For instance, many emigrants on the ship reported insufficient buckets for the bucket brigade and that there were no axes, or only one ax. The sailors said there were plenty of buckets and a few axes. This can easily be explained by the fact that five hundred people on board a ship the size of a jumbo jet were in many different places as the ship burned, and they had widely different experiences. Emigrants on one side of the ship might have had no buckets, while passengers on the other side had plenty. Also, Captain Smith and seaman John Mangenne both testified they abandoned ship around the same time and, seeing a lifeboat, swam toward it. The captain said he was in the water about forty-five minutes, quite a long time, yet Mangenne said they were in the water about two hours before being taken in by the lifeboat. Perception varies tremendously between people. Another example of this is that various firsthand accounts put the number of emigrants that switched from Lifeboat 2 to Lifeboat 4 anywhere from five to thirteen. Regardless of the actual number, all testimony confirmed the event.

We hope that additional facts and details are brought forward after reading the book. We welcome corrections too. If you have additional legitimate information about this event or the people, perhaps ancestor letters or genealogy documents, please send them to us at We will review submissions and add them to this site if they help to clarify or detail this event further.

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