Expand the story
If you do manage to identify your ancestor’s shipwreck then there’s plenty of opportunity to expand on the story. Look for a book or website about the shipping company that owned the vessel or the shipwreck itself, and this will often give you more detail about the circumstances of the vessel’s loss, perhaps even a picture of the ship.
Newspapers are particularly good for filling in the gaps in other sources and adding detail to the events. Reporters may interview survivors, describe dramatic rescues and provide pictures. They often list the victims and the survivors, which is especially helpful in the era before passenger lists. Without newspapers, for example, we would never know the full story of the very unfortunate John Paterson. He was on his way from Southampton to South Africa on