The British ocean liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine precipitating the U.S. entry into World War One. This guide compiles digital materials at the Library of Congress, external websites, and a selected print bibliography.
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Mark F. Hall, Reference Librarian, History and Genealogy Section, Researcher and Reference Services Division
Created: January 10, 2023
Last Updated: January 17, 2023
The Cunard Line's RMS Lusitania was a British luxury ocean liner that held the Blue Riband as the fastest and was, briefly, also the world's largest passenger ship. On May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat, sinking the ship and claiming the lives of 1,198 passengers and crew including a large number of American passengers. The sinking of the Lusitania helped harden American sentiment against Germany and set the stage for the eventual American entry into the First World War. To what extent the Lusitania was carrying weapons and military supplies is an ongoing controversy regarding the cause of the damage to the vessel as well as the German justification for attacking it.