What was I looking for?
The name of a ship that traveled from New York to the UK in late September or very early October 1914. As Britain was at war by this time (WWI having begun less than two months prior) passenger ships were few and far between (many having been confined to port due to threat of German U-Boats, or converted to troop ships to transport soldiers to the Front). But lo and behold, through a circuitious route of webpages, I stumbled upon something better than a ship's manifest (that simply lists passenger names, or ports of call), I found a diary kept by someone who actually completed the very journey my character would have had to take was she truly alive in the day.
The ship's name?
RMS Olympic, first of the three sister-ocean liners launched by White Star Line (the other two being the ill-fated Titanic, and Britannic). And the real person? Clarence V. Mitchell, who traveled to Britain, and on to France to join the Military Ambulance during the early months of WWI. Learn more about him and his experience, here.
|RMS Olympic 1911. Source: Wikipedia; Public Domain|
There is a place for the Internet in research. At most, it can turn up gems like this, at worst, it can lead you to secondary sources (Wikipedia) that reference primary sources (like diaries) that add authenticity and legitimacy to works of historical fiction. Hopefully you won't spend hours scrolling and clicking to find a single name as I did, but sometimes you might. Such is the craft of writing.
Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry. ~Benjamin Franklin