RMS Titanic  

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean during the early hours of April 15, 1912. She had collided with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. There were an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, yet only 705 persons survived, making it one of the five deadliest maritime disasters in modern history. RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat at the time she was entered into service, and was the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line. She was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Thomas Andrews, her architect, was on board and died in the disaster.

Newspaper headline about the Titanic disaster (LOC.gov photo)
Newspaper headline about the Titanic disaster (LOC.gov photo)

Captain of the Titanic was Edward Smith, who also died that awful night. Titanic carried some of the wealthiest people in the world, plus hundreds of emigrants from various countries throughout Europe who were hoping to start new lives in the United States. A high-powered radiotelegraph transmitter was available for sending passenger messages and for use by the crew. Although Titanic had special safety features such as watertight compartments and remotely activated watertight doors, she only carried enough lifeboats for half the people on board—although that number was deemed adequate by outdated maritime safety regulations in place at the time.

Titanic’s collision with the iceberg opened five of its sixteen compartments to the sea: she could have remained afloat if only four had been breached.  Only two hours and forty minutes after the collision, Titanic broke apart and came to rest in two pieces 12,415 feet beneath the surface of the North Atlantic.

It is possible to find out quite a bit about Titanic’s passengers and crew. Ancestry Library Edition (Ancestry LE) includes six record collections that provide such information:

·         UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 [1,507 records]
·         UK, RMS Titanic, Outbound Passenger List, 1912 [1,062 records]
·         UK, RMS Titanic, Crew Records, 1912 [5,605 records]
·         Titanic Survivors, Carpathia Passenger List, 1912 [481 records]
·         Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, RMS Titanic Fatality Reports, 1912 [328]
·         Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, RMS Titanic Graves, 1912 [124 records]

It is possible to search the UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 record collection by class of accommodations—1st, 2nd, and 3rd class. A search for 1st class passengers reveals that many of the 1st class dead were wealthy Americans returning from European sojourns. Most of the 1st class dead were men, however: 90% of 1st class survivors were women due to the “women and children first” protocol strictly observed by a majority of crew members and passengers.

The UK, RMS Titanic, Deaths at Sea, 1912 record collection can also be browsed by Passengers or Crew. Browsing by Crew reveals that RMS Titanic had a library for use by 1st and 2nd class passengers, and therefore needed a Library Steward:

    T. Kelland—Last residence Wilts, Southhampton—Supposed drowned

You can use Ancestry LE at Central Library or any of our branches.

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