Digital History
Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg; 866 Rescued By Carpathia, Probably 1,250 Perish
Digital History ID 1125


Annotation: A few minutes before midnight on April 14, 1912, the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic while on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York. There were only lifeboats for half the passengers, and 1,503 died.

The death toll was not evenly distributed. Some 60 percent of the first-cabin passengers survived, but only 44 percent of second-cabin passengers and just 25 percent of steerage passengers. A higher proportion of first-class cabin mates survived than women and children in steerage.

James Cameron’s Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time, was only the most recent retelling of the story of the Titanic, the largest movable object at the time it was launched. Since the ship sank in 1912, the story has been the subject of films, poetry, novels, and even a Broadway musical. Each of these accounts of the disaster sheds light on the time when they were written.

The ship’s sinking has been viewed as punishment for hubris of the shipowners who dared declare the ship unsinkable and held an unbridled faith in technology, and as an attack on the arrogance and conspicuous consumption of the rich and powerful. It has been interpreted as a metaphor for the end of an era of rigid gender roles and class hierarchies. The Nazis made a film that depicted the Titanic as a metaphor for evils of British imperialism, and socialists saw it as a symbol of the flaws and excesses of capitalism.

The Atlanta Constitution cited the claim that male passengers had sacrificed themselves so that women and children could occupy the ship’s lifeboats to bolster a belief in racial superiority: "The Anglo-Saxon may yet boast that his sons are fit to rule the earth so long as men choose death with the courage they must have displayed when the great liner crashed into the mountains of ice, and the aftermath brought its final test." Opponents of woman suffrage used the same evidence to attack feminism: The New York Herald quoted a man who declared: “I suggest, henceforth, when a woman talks woman's rights, she be answered with the word Titanic, nothing more -- just Titanic.”

The 1958 film version, based on Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, expressed nostalgia for a seemingly more orderly and civil time when the in contrast to the anxieties of the Cold War.At a time when the gap between the gap in income and wealth was increasing, James Cameron’s 1997 version focuses on a fictional cross-class romance between a poor artist and an upper-class socialite.

Document: Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg; 866 Rescued By Carpathia, Probably 1,250 Perish; Ismay Safe, Mrs. Astor Maybe, Noted Names Missing

Biggest Liner Plunges to the Bottom at 2:20 A.M. RESCUERS THERE TOO LATE

Expect to Pick Up the Few Hundreds Who Took to the Lifeboats.


Cunarder Carpathia Rushing to New York with the Survivors.


The California Stands By on Chance of Picking Up Other Boats or Rafts.


Only Ship to Flash Wireless Messages to Shore After the Disaster. Special to The New York Times


Women and Children Put Over in Lifeboats and Are Supposed to be Safe on Carpathia


Vincent Astor Calls at White Star Office for News of His Father and Leaves Weeping.


Franklin Hopeful All Day


Manager of Line Insisted Titanic Was Unsinkable Even After She Had Gone Down




J.Bruce Ismay Making First Trip on Gigantic Ship That Was to Surpass All Others CAPE RACE, N.F., April 15. -- The White Star liner Olympic reports by wireless this evening that the Cunarder Carpathia reached, at daybreak this morning, the position from which wireless calls for help were sent out last night by the Titanic after her collision with an iceberg. The Carpathia found only the lifeboats and the wreckage of what had been the biggest steamship afloat.

The Titanic had foundered at about 2:20 A.M., in latitude 41:46 north and longitude 50:14 west. This is about 30 minutes of latitude, or about 34 miles, due south of the position at which she struck the iceberg. All her boats are accounted for and about 655 souls have been saved of the crew and passengers, most of the latter presumably women and children. There were about 1,200 persons aboard the Titanic.

The Leyland liner California is remaining and searching the position of the disaster, while the Carpathia is returning to New York with the survivors.

It can be positively stated that up to 11 o'clock to-night nothing whatever had been received at or heard by the Marconi station here to the effect that the Parisian, Virginian or any other ships had picked up any survivors, other than those picked up by the Carpathia.

First News of the Disaster.

The first news of the disaster to the Titanic was received by the Marconi wireless station here at 10:25 o'clock last night (as told in yesterday's New York Times.) The Titanic was first heard giving the distress signal "C. Q. D.," which was answered by a number of ships, including the Carpathia, the Baltic and the Olympic. The Titanic said she had struck an iceberg and was in immediate need of assistance, giving her position as latitude 41:46 north and longitude 50:14 west.

At 10:55 o'clock the Titanic reported she was sinking by the head, and at 11:25 o'clock the station here established communication with the Allan liner Virginian, from Halifax to Liverpool, and notified her of the Titanic's urgent need of assistance and gave her the Titanic's position.

The Virginian advised the Marconi station almost immediately that she was proceeding toward the scene of the disaster.

At 11:36 o'clock the Titanic informed the Olympic that they were putting the women off in boats and instructed the Olympic to have her boats read to transfer the passengers.

The Titanic, during all this time, continued to give distress signals and to announce her position.

The wireless operator seemed absolutely cool and clear-headed, his sending throughout being steady and perfectly formed, and the judgment used by him was of the best.

The last signals heard from the Titanic were received at 12:27 A.M., when the Virginian reported having heard a few blurred signals which ended abruptly.

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