Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beyond Amelia Earhart

From the Wikipedia list of people who disappeared mysteriously:
  • 1501 – Gaspar Corte-Real, Portuguese explorer, disappeared on an expedition to discover the Northwest Passage from Europe to Asia. Two of his ships returned to Lisbon, but the third, with Gaspar on board, was lost and never heard from again.
  • 1502 – Miguel Corte-Real, Portuguese explorer, disappeared while searching for his brother Gaspar. Like his brother, he took three ships, and as with his brother, the ship with Miguel on board was lost and never heard from again.
  • 1696 – Henry Every was an English pirate who vanished after perpetrating one of the most profitable pirate raids in history; despite a worldwide manhunt and an enormous bounty on his head, Every was never heard from again.
  • 1788 – Aimée du Buc de Rivéry, daughter of a wealthy plantation owner on the French island of Martinique. After being sent to a convent school in France, she was returning home in July or August 1788 when the ship she was on vanished at sea. It is thought that the ship was attacked and taken by Barbary pirates. It has been suggested that she was enslaved and eventually sent to Istanbul as a gift to the Ottoman sultan by the Bey of Algiers. It is unconfirmed if she was the same person as Nakshedil Sultan, consort of the sultan.
  • 1826 – William Morgan (52), resident of Batavia, New York, disappeared just before his book critical of Freemasonry was published.
  • 1910 – Dorothy Arnold (25), Manhattan socialite and perfume heiress, vanished after buying a book in New York City. She intended to walk through Central Park but was never seen again.
  • 1848 – Khachatur Abovian (38), Armenian writer and national public figure of the early 19th century, credited as creator of modern Armenian literature, left his house early one morning and was never heard from again.
  • 1985-Vladimir Alexandrov, Russian physicist, disappeared while attending a nuclear winter conference in Madrid.
Reading this list, I began to wonder about standards for inclusion as a mysteriously-disappeared person. Obviously (and sadly) people disappear every day. But what boosts someone from a flyer at the post office to a Wikipedia notable? Is it the same as the rules for getting on the Jumbotron: you either have to be already famous, a tiny child, or a pretty white girl? Why do we all know about Natalee Holloway but not the people who disappear in our very own cities?

This guy knows what I'm talking about:

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