Titanic Blog


The postcard is postmarked February 11, 1911, New Orleans, LA, and depicts Lee Monument, New Orleans, which was built in 1884 by the City Council to honor Robert E. Lee.

This postcard was recovered in the belongings of Howard Irwin on an expedition to the wreck site of Titanic in 1993.  The inscription of the back reads, “Howard – We are here because we’re here.  But I wish to God we were in New York.  –A



RMS Titanic, which stood for Royal Mail Steamer Titanic, carried thousands of mail sacks bound for North America as well as several mail clerks who were charged with getting this precious cargo to its final destination.  One of these dedicated mail clerks on board Titanic for her maiden voyage was Oscar Scott Woody from Roxboro, North Carolina.

Born April 15, 1871, exactly 41 years to the day before Titanic would sink, Woody was a US Post Office employee who had worked as a railway mail clerk between Greensboro, NC and Washington, DCRMS for 15 years before being transferred to the Sea Post in 1910.  A Sea Post position aboard a ship was a choice assignment, as  mail clerks made a considerable sum of about $1,000 a year. He sailed from New York City on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse to Plymouth, England, and then traveled to Southampton to board Titanic.

On the night of the sinking, Woody and four other mail clerks, three Americans and two Englishmen, worked diligently to save the mail in their care. They opened the registered mail cage of the Ship's post office below decks and attempted to drag some 200 sacks of registered mail up to higher decks to escape the incoming sea water, in the hopes that it could be saved. Titanic steward Albert Theissinger assisted the clerks before he abandoned the task, leaving them behind in two feet or more of rising water.

Unfortunately, Woody perished in the sinking, which happened to be his 41st birthday, and his body was recovered a week later by the CS Mackay-Bennett, wearing a cork life jacket. His body was identified by a letter to his wife in his pocket. Due to its poor condition, Woody's body was buried at sea on April 24, 1912.  In 2004, the post office on Main Street in Roxboro, NC, was named the Oscar Scott Woody Post Office Building.

Titanic The Experience in Orlando, Florida, has a reproduction of Woody’s personal stamp on a certificate that confirmed the destination of a postal sack.

Source: http://statelibrarync.org/news/category/trivia/; and http://www.ncpedia.org/biography/woody-oscar-scott

Image source: http://oscarscottwoody.com/

Photo credit: (c) copyright William J. Baumbach, II


Titanic’s galley water boiler was one of many artifacts that were recovered by RMS Titanic, Inc. on an expedition to the wreck site in the year 2000. 

The boiler certainly seems like it would have been quite the commodity to exist on a ship 100 years ago, butTitanic was very technologically advanced for her time. However, items such as these, which were uncommon for ships of the time, are an example of the type of luxury that Titanic offered her passengers.

Even in Titanic’s kitchens, she had over 60 chefs and assistants working in 5 galleys. They ranged from pastry chefs, soup chefs, and even a kosher chef to prepare the meals on board for the Jewish passengers. Titanic was prepared to serve thousands of meals on her maiden voyage, therefore they needed to leave port with all of the ingredients necessary for those meals.

What was the Purpose of the Galley Water Boiler?

The galley water boiler was used in the kitchens of Titanic, holding fresh water in a pressurized vessel. When it was needed, the employees would turn the spicket, and it would drop the pressure in the vessel, causing the water to immediately come to a boil. This would have been used to prepare coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for some of the passengers. Each day Titanic used 14,000 gallons of drinking water.

To give you an example of Titanic’s stockpile, Titanic set sail with over 75,000 pounds of meat, 11,000 pounds of fresh fish, 40,000 eggs, 40 tons of potatoes, and 36,000 oranges.

Learn more about the food on-board Titanic:






Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in Houston partners with SPCA to remember Titanic’s furriest passengers

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in Houston is currently partnering with the Houston area SPCA to donate two tickets to the Exhibition to the first 100 adoptees of dogs through September 23rd, the newly announced close date of the Exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

There were believed to be 12 dogs traveling on Titanic, three of which actually survived the sinking of the great ocean liner.  The dogs were traveling with first-class passengers and were housed in the in the kennels on F Deck or in their owner’s cabin.  Crew were responsible for daily walking the dogs on the poop deck. Many of the passengers were clearly devoted to their pets.

Three dogs who were kept in passenger cabins survived the sinking.  They were Lily, a Pomeranian belonging to Margaret Hays, a Pekinese named Sun Yat-Sen belonging to Henry Sleeper Harper, and another Pomeranian belonging to Elizabeth Rothschild.  Sadly, larger dogs could not be accommodated.

Several survivors mention that the dogs in the kennel were released before the sinking – some attribute this action to John Jacob Astor, who was traveling with his Airedale Terrier, Kitty. Other survivors mention swimming alongside dogs, including one surviving first-class passenger who claimed he came face to face with Robert William Daniels’ prize French Bulldog, Gamin de Pycombe, in the water.

In the aftermath of the sinking, several dog-owners, including Robert William Daniels, submitted claims for loss of their dogs.  The claims were paid.

More information: http://www.houstonspca.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=25176




The Titanic’s first-class staterooms were a sight to behold for Titanic’s maiden voyage. They were intended to provide the most luxurious accommodations for the wealthy passengers who were travelling across the Atlantic.

This video shows a recreation of one of the first-class staterooms from Titanic, as seen at the Atlanta Exhibition in Atlantic Station. RMS Titanic, Inc. worked with some of the blue prints from some of the original furniture manufacturers to make this stateroom as historically accurate as possible. 

There would have been rooms even bigger and more luxurious than this. The White Star Line spared no expense, making sure that the first-class passengers would have all of the amenities that they would have if they were staying at a 5 star hotel on land. The bigger staterooms, known as parlor suites, would have had a sitting room, 2 bedrooms, and a bathroom connected to it. In today’s currency, a ticket for that room would have cost $103,000.

These rooms would have been reserved for the ultra wealthy. John Jacob Astor and his young wife Madeleine were in one of these staterooms, and, believe it or not, one was actually empty for the Titanic’s maiden voyage. The additional parlor room was empty due to the fact that the famous financier, J.P. Morgan, had originally booked it. However, he was forced to cancel at the last second due to business that kept him in Europe.





Mrs. Margaret (Molly) Brown is perhaps the most famous Titanic survivor.  Having been portrayed by such Hollywood powerhouses as Kathy Bates and Debbie Reynolds, “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” is a figure with which many people are familiar.  Who was Mrs. Brown, and what actions caused her name to become synonymous with heroic women of the early twentieth century?

Margaret Brown was born Margaret Tobin to Irish immigrants in Hannibal, Missouri in 1867.  This year Margaret Tobin Brown would have been 145 years old on July 18th. Her family was working class, and Maggie (as she was called before she married) worked stripping tobacco leaves to help support them.  When she was eighteen, she moved with her sister to Leadville, Colorado to establish a blacksmith shop.  It was in Leadville where she would meet her future husband James Joseph (“J.J.”) Brown. Brown was a miner who was also the child of Irish immigrants.  They were married on September 1, 1886 and had two children: Lawrence Palmer (1887) and Catherine Ellen (1889).   J.J. would go on to revitalize the Leadville economy after the repeal of the Sherman Silver Act in 1893 by helping transition the Little Johnny Mine from silver to gold.  For his work, Mr. Brown was given 12,500 stock shares and a seat on the company board, making him one of the most successful mining men in the country at that time. 

While her husband busied himself with the mining industry, Margaret Brown became increasingly involved in the local early feminist movement and helped establish the Colorado Chapter of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.  She also donated her time at a local soup kitchen, which fed families of the local miners.  When financial success moved the Browns to Denver, Margaret became a founding member of the Denver Woman’s Club, which advocated literacy, education, suffrage, and human rights both locally and nationally.  She helped raise funds for both the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital, and worked with Judge Ben Lindsay to establish the first Juvenile Court in the country.  She studied literature, language, and drama at the Carnegie Institute in New York, and in addition to raising her own two children, raised her brother’s three daughters.

Margaret Brown also established herself in the political arena.  She ran for Senate in 1912, eight years before women had a right to vote in the United States.  In 1914, she helped organize an international women’s rights conference in Newport, Rhode Island, which was attended by activists from around the globe.  She also worked on behalf of labor rights, particularly following the Ludlow Massacre in 1914.

Molly Brown and the Titanic Disaster

On board Titanic, Margaret Brown continued to express her love for humanity by helping load lifeboats before she was persuaded into Lifeboat 6.  She encouraged the other women in her boat not to give up hope, work together, and continue rowing until help was sighted.  Once aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, Brown immediately began work to help other survivors of the wreck.  By the time the ship docked in New York, she had established the Survivor’s Committee, been elected chairperson, and had raised almost $10,000 for the impoverished survivors.

On May 29, 1912, Brown presented Captain Rostron of the Carpathia with a silver cup for his heroism, as well as medals to every member of his ship’s crew.  She also aided in the erection of the Titanic Memorial in Washington DC.  Despite her standing as the head of the Survivor’s Committee, Brown did not testify at the US Titanic Hearings.

Margaret Brown truly was unsinkable, as she used her celebrity status as a platform to advocate those issues which were nearest to her heart: labor rights, women’s rights, childhood literacy, and historic preservation.  She died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage on October 26, 1932.  No one who knew her personally ever referred to her as “Molly”.


Unparalleled in luxury, RMS Titanic was well equipped to serve lavish meals to her passengers. The cuisine served to first-class passengers was of the highest standards. Hearty breakfasts consisting of eggs and meat would be expected; fine cheeses, decadent preparations of beef and poultry, and even items such as corned ox tongue would accompany the day’s later meals. After eleven courses and some of the finest wine available, dinner in the First Class Dining Saloon was quite the affair. Second-class passengers by no means went hungry. Their meals were not of the same caliber as those in first class; nevertheless, their meals still consisted of meats, starches, dairy, and even fresh fruit.


Before meals were served aboard Titanic, bugler Peter Fletcher would sound White Star Line’s traditional meal call “The Roast Beef of Old England.” The passengers would make their way to their assigned dining rooms upon hearing the signal for the upcoming meal. The First Class Dining Saloon was situated on ‘D’ deck, between the second and third funnels, while the second-class diners found themselves further aft of their first-class counterparts, just in front of the base of the main mast of the ship. The third-class passengers would eat on ‘F’ deck, between the second and third funnels, exactly two decks down from the first-class passengers. While these passengers were given a much less glamorous experience, the food provided on Titanic was substantial, hearty, and healthy. For far too many passengers, this exquisite food would be the last that would ever pass their lips.





The last body recovered from the Titanic wreck was James McGrady’s. His body was listed at #330, though that number never added up as only 228 bodies were actually recovered from the sea. Unfortunately, little is known about McGrady before his time on Titanic.

Born around 1896 in Lissamore, Northern Ireland, McGrady was the child of railway worker James McGrady and Ann Higgins. James Sr. died before his son was born, and Ann proceeded to remarry farmer Tom Savage. At the age of 16, James, who was called ‘Hugh’ by his family members, joined White Star Line as a steward. He transferred to Titanic from her sister ship, Oceanic, in Southampton just before her maiden voyage.

McGrady’s body was still wearing a lifejacket when it was recovered from the icy waters. There is some dispute as to whether the recovery ship Algerine or the Montmagny recovered his body. According to the roster of bodies, the steamer Algerine recovered McGrady’s body on June 6th. He was buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia with other Titanic victims.


Charles Herbert Lightoller, the most senior officer to survive the Titanic disaster, had much to answer for when the rescue ship Carpathia docked in New York.  After extensive testimony in US Senate Hearings and the British Wreck Commission Inquiry, both of which attempted to determine the cause of Titanic’s sinking. Lightoller returned to the sea in 1913; he served as First Officer aboard White Star Line’s RMS Oceanic. When World War I began in 1914, RMS Oceanic was converted to HMS Oceanic, an armed merchant cruiser. He served aboard the vessel until she ran aground on September 8, 1914.

After the loss of HMS Oceanic, Lightoller found himself serving on the Campania, a 13,000-ton Cunard liner that had been converted into a seaplane carrier.  He became the observer in a Short 184 seaplane, and his fleet became the first in history that used a plane to successfully locate an enemy fleet. 

In December of 1915, Lightoller was given command of the torpedo boat HMTB 117.  During this command, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for attacking the Zeppelin L31.  He was also promoted to command of the torpedo-boat-destroyer Falcon.  Unfortunately, Falcon collided with the John Fitzgerald on April 1, 1918 and sank in a matter of hours.  Lightoller’s next command was aboard the destroyer Garry.  On July 19, 1918 Garry rammed and sank the German submarine UB-110., which earned Lightoller a promotion of Lieutenant-Commander.  By the end of that year, he emerged from the Royal Navy as a full Commander.  He proceeded to briefly serve as Chief Officer aboard White Star Line’s Celtic.  He reportedly felt that his association with the Titanic disaster did not sit well with White Star’s board, and resigned within two years of receiving the position.

Despite his official retirement from the sea, Lightoller continued to serve his country aboard his own motor-yacht Sundowner.  He helped to survey the German coast during the Second World War, and helped with Operation Dynamo- the Dunkirk evacuation.

After serving on the sea for most of his life, Lightoller spent his later years in the boat building business.  He died of heart failure on December 8, 1952.  He had survived four shipwrecks, two world wars, and more adventure on the high seas than most can imagine.


Charles Herbert Lightoller was born on May 30, 1874 in Chorley, Lancashire.  He began his career at sea young, taking on an apprenticeship at 13 aboard the Primrose Hill.  He next served aboard the Holt Hill. The ship was destroyed in the South Atlantic and was forced to dock in Rio de Janeiro while Brazil was struggling through a military coup and a smallpox epidemic. After makeshift repairs, she was faced a similar fate in the Indian Ocean, and on November 13, 1889 ran aground on St. Paul, a tiny, uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean. The Chief Mate was killed in the shipwreck, and the survivors were rescued eight days later and taken to Adelaide, Australia.

Lightoller’s time at sea was fairly eventful, as he survived a cyclone, cargo room fire, and malaria.  In 1898, he took a brief hiatus from the ocean and attempted to make his fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush.  The adventure was unsuccessful, and Lightoller made his passage back to England as a cattle wrangler.

In 1900, Lightoller joined White Star Line, first serving as Fourth Officer of the Medic.  The ship ran between Britain, South Africa, and Australia.  On one of these journeys, he met Sylvia Hawley-Wilson, a Sydney native who was returning home after spending some time in England.  They were married on the return trip.

Lightoller served as First Officer during Titanic’s sea trials, but Captain Edward J. Smith eventually made Henry T. Wilde his Chief Officer.  As a result of this shift, Lightoller was moved down to Second Officer, the position he would hold throughout his voyage on Titanic.

On April 14, 1912, Second Officer Lightoller began his four-hour shift at 6:00 pm.    Unfortunately, even though the Captain had received a number of ice warnings that afternoon, the Marconi operators had overlooked most of them.  As a result, the officers were unaware of the predicted danger ahead.

At 10:00pm, Lightoller was relieved by First Officer Murdoch, and informed him that the lookout had been instructed to keep his eyes pealed for ice.  He returned to his cabin, and at 11:40pm, was beginning to fall asleep when he felt a vibration. He went on deck where he met Third Officer Herbert Pitman who was also concerned by the unexplained vibration.  They concluded that the vessel had hit something, but could see no sign of immediate danger. Ten minutes later, Lightoller was informed that the water was up to the F deck in the Mail Room.

Lightoller proceeded to take charge of the even number boats on the port side, but he soon determined that he had to use hand signals compensate for the overwhelming noise. As soon as Lightoller received the orders, he started loading women and children into lifeboat 4. When he tried loading them, he found that windows on A-Deck were locked, so he switched to loading lifeboat 6. For the next couple hours, Lightoller worked diligently to load as many people as possible into lifeboats.

After all other boats had been loaded, thirty men had climbed onto the overturned Collapsible B. The survivors included two First Class passengers, Lightoller, Colonel Gracie, and the two Marconi Operators. The rest were all crew members, who embraced their last opportunity to escape death. One of the Marconi operators told Lightoller that the BalticOlympic and Carpathia were on the way to rescue the survivors. Three men aboard Collapsible B passed away as the survivors waited for rescue.

The Carpathia arrived at dawn and just in time.  At this point, Collapsible B was slowly sinking. Lightoller found himself in lifeboat 12, designed for 65-capacity; the small boat now contained 75 survivors.  Lifeboat 12 was the last boat to be rescued by the Carpathia. Lightoller had helped all the survivors out before he climbed aboard before struggling aboard the rescue ship himself.  He was the last Titanic survivor taken aboard theCarpathia.