(PHILADELPHIA.CBSLOCAL) — Joseph Edgette didn’t know much about the Titanic when he began teaching at Widener University, even though the school is named for a stunningly wealthy Philadelphia family that lost two people in the tragedy.

But after a Widener descendant showed Edgette heirloom jewelry that survived the ship’s demise, the professor — who holds a doctorate in folklore — felt compelled to do a little research. And then a little more.

As the world this week marks the 100th anniversary of the ocean liner’s sinking, Edgette is working to document the final resting places of all its passengers. He specializes in gravestones and cemeteries.

“Basically, I’m getting through their lives by going backwards, by looking at their gravestones,” Edgette said. “That becomes a springboard into the story behind the person.”

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