A Titanic exhibit unlike any other has opened at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California. None of the items on display were taken directly from the wreck itself. Instead, items carried off the ship by survivors, objects from the 1985 discovery of the wreck, and those pertaining to the 1997 movie Titanic are part of the 10,000-square foot exhibition. But why the Reagan Library? Was there a connection between the President and the Titanic?
Her father, a cabinet maker, set wood aside to build her coffin soon after she was born. But the sickly baby defied her doctors and survived. And at the age of 27, Edwina Troutt survived the sinking of the Titanic. She later said, ‘I felt I was saved for something.’
Last month in Great Britain, a fur coat that once belonged to a stewardess on the Titanic sold at auction for GBP150,000 (more than $250,000 in US dollars). The coat was worn by Mabel Bennett, a first class stewardess, as she entered Lifeboat 5.
Last time, we began with a glimpse into Titanic’s maiden voyage, beginning with the preparations in Southampton on April 5, 1912. On Sailing Day, April 10th, Titanic departed Southampton on what would be her only voyage, carrying 2,208 passengers and crew.
Titanic departing Southampton April 10, 1912
On this day in 1912, 2208 passengers and crew had five days until their departure from Southampton on the RMS Titanic. They came from 27 different nations and all walks of life. Many of the passengers were returning to the United States following their honeymoons, vacations, or business travels. Most had never been to America, but dreamed of a new life there. For them, these last five days would be filled with preparations, good-byes, tears, and anticipation. No one had any idea of the tragedy that would soon befall them.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic departed Southampton, England and made its first stop in Cherbourg, France at 6:30 pm. Two tenders carried 281 passengers to the ship, representing 26 nationalities.
Among those boarding in Cherbourg was Joseph Laroche, his wife Juliette, and their daughters, three-year-old Simonne and 21-month-old Louise. Joseph was the only black passenger to board the ship. The Laroche family were bound for Haiti, where Joseph, 25, had been born.
Joseph Laroche and family
Thomas Drake emigrated from England to Pennsylvania in 1829, opened a fabric mill, and began manufacturing denim. Soon, he was making jeans under the trademark, ‘Kentucky Blue Jeans.’ He became the cloth supplier for the Union Army uniforms during the Civil War, and increased his wealth through various investments. When he died in 1890, his only surviving child, Charlotte, inherited his fortune, plus the family mansion, Montebello. Located in Germantown, Pennsylvania, it occupied a full square block.
Montebello, home of Charlotte Cardeza
When Anna Sophia Turja of Finland boarded the Titanic in Southampton on April 10, 1912, she looked forward to starting a new life in America at the home of her sister and brother-in-law. The couple had paid for Anna’s third class passage, and she planned to work in her brother-in-law’s store in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Anna Sophia Turja
With so many discussions of immigration at the forefront of today’s news, let’s take a look at the immigrants who boarded the Titanic. What were the immigration requirements in 1912? What happened to the immigrants who managed to survive the disaster, and how were they treated upon their arrival in New York?
Even before her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the RMS Titanic was sometimes called the Queen of the Seas. She was the largest and most elegant ocean liner in the world, and would surpass all other ocean-going passenger ships in size, speed, and luxury. Tragically, she collided with an iceberg on her debut voyage and sank, killing over 1500 passengers and crewmembers.
Today, a new Queen makes regular transatlantic crossings. The RMS Queen Mary 2, built in 2003, is the only ocean liner in service between Southampton and New York, and has claimed the title of the largest ocean liner ever built, once held by Titanic. At 1,132 feet long, the Queen Mary 2 surpasses Titanic‘s length of 882.5 feet by 249.5 feet.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2