Passengers on the Titanic
The RMS Titanic and its Passengers
Related article: titanic passenger list
Although the numbers differ slightly about exactly how many passengers were on the RMS Titanic when it sank, there were a little over 2220 passengers and crew on board. Over fifteen hundred people died in the tragedy; over eight hundred of those were passengers.
Titanic passengers represented a wide variety of classes and nationalities. The first class passengers were wealthy and famous. They paid an exorbitant amount for a ticket on the Titanic, and they enjoyed all the privileges of beautiful staterooms, electricity, running water, private baths, and world-class dining. Second class Titanic passengers represented the middle class working people. Clergy, businessmen, average tourists, and the ship’s musicians were among those who traveled second class. The third class, or steerage, was mostly poor emigrants from all over Europe going to America. Although travelling third class on the Titanic was better than on many other ships, health regulations required the steerage area to be separated from the upper decks. This isolation from the rest of the ship largely contributed to the number of deaths among the third class passengers.
The Youngest Passenger
Nine-week-old Eliza Gladys Millvina Dean was the youngest passenger sailing on the Titanic. She and her slightly older brother, Bertram, both survived the tragedy. Millvina lived for over ninety years following the accident.
Famous Titanic Passengers
The Titanic was the newest, brightest, and reputedly fastest ship of the White Star Line. Many rich and famous people bought tickets for its maiden voyage and died when it sank. Real estate tycoon John Jacob Astor IV and his pregnant wife, Madeleine, were on the ship. After making sure his wife had a place in a life boat, Astor resigned himself calmly to his fate on the Titanic. Isidor Straus, the founder of Macy's department store, and his wife were also wealthy passengers. When Mrs. Straus learned that her husband would not be permitted to join her in a life boat, she chose to stay with him on the sinking ship. Benjamin Guggenheim, who inherited a mining fortune, reportedly drank brandy and smoked cigars with his servant while awaiting his death on the Titanic. Some famous Titanic passengers survived. Margaret “Molly” Brown (picture), the wife of Colorado silver mine baron J. J. Brown, was a popular American socialite. Dorothy Gibson, a famous silent movie star and model, also escaped the Titanic. She starred in a silent movie about the disaster a month after it happened.
One infamous passenger also survived. Bruce Ismay was the director of the White Star Line. He fled the ship on one of the last life boats. Many thought he should have stayed on the ship with the captain and others who died. Compounding his unpopularity was the fact that so many women and children died on the ship because the life boats were full. However, he always maintained that there were no women or children left on deck when he took his place in the life boat.
Survivors and Casualties among Titanic Passengers
Related article: Titanic survivors
Women and children of the first class had the highest survival rate of all the passengers on the Titanic. The RMS Titanic crew members were instructed to begin with first class passengers and allow only women and children onto the limited number of life boats. Some first class men managed to find a spot on one of the boats, and many second class women and children were able to get to a boat, though not nearly all. The third class Titanic passengers did not have an opportunity to save themselves. Some reports say that the captain held them below deck to avoid a mob scene around the few life boats. According to some eyewitness accounts, the steerage passengers were kept gated in the lower decks until all the life boats were gone and then let free. How many passengers were on the Titanic in the lowest decks when it sank is uncertain, but the most casualties occurred in the third class, especially among the men.