Woman’s “Titanic’’ Memorial - 1912

The Spirit of the Woman’s Titanic Memorial. The noted artist Charles Dana Gibson's conception of it. A beautiful idea which has been widely praised. Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper (22 August 1912) p. 181. GGA Image ID # 10108fa8f8

The biggest undertaking ever attempted by American women,” is the description that is being applied in Washington to the Woman’s “Titanic” Memorial, an association formed to erect in the national capital a great marble arch in honor of the men who went down on the Titanic so that women and children might live.

Notable Leaders in Creating the Woman's Titanic Memorial

Notable Leaders in Creating the Woman's Titanic Memorial. Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper (22 August 1912) p. 181, GGA Image ID # 10112d2107

From Left to Right:

  • MRS. JOHN HAY - Widow of the former Secretary of State, and the zealous and efficient president of the Woman’s “Titanic” Memorial.
  • MRS. JOHN HAYS HAMMOND - Wife of the famous engineer, and secretary and directing spirit of the Woman’s “Titanic” Memorial.
  • MRS. CHAMP CHARK - Wife of the Speaker of the House, and one of the committee of one hundred ladies which is in charge of the undertaking.
  • MRS. WILLIAM H.TAFT - Wife of the President of the United States, and a most interested and influential member of the committee of one hundred.
  • MRS. GROVER CLEVELAND – Widow of the former President, and a member of the committee of women who are patrons of the project.
  • MRS. OSCAR UNDERWOOD -  Wife of the Democratic floor leader of the House of Representatives, and one of the committee's active members.
  • A FAMOUS CONTRIBUTOR, Mary Anderson (Mrs. Navarro), the former actress, who sent a contribution for the memorial from England.

Mrs. John Hays Hammond, famous for her many great philanthropies, is the directing spirit of the undertaking and its business secretary. Mrs. John Hay, widow of the late Secretary of State, is the chairman.

Mrs. Taft, wife of the President, contributed the first dollar. Mrs. Leonard Wood, wife of the chief of staff of the army, is organizing the women of the army and navy into a sub-association to work for the cause.

Mrs. Grover Cleveland, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, Mrs. Champ Clark, Mrs. Oscar W. Underwood, Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Mrs. Carter Harrison, Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell, Mrs. Charles W. Fairbanks, Mrs. Harrison Grey Fiske, Mrs. Elbert H. Gary, Mrs. William J. Gaynor, Mrs. Samuel Gompers, Mrs. E. H. Harriman, Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst, Mrs. James S. Sherman and many other famous women in the United States are members of the committee of one hundred, which is in charge of the women’s campaign to honor the bravery of men.

The project of the Woman’s “Titanic” Memorial is being backed by twenty-eight thousand women's clubs in the United States, and these include the D. A. R., the Colonial Dames, and every other important woman's organization.

Thousands of dollars have come in from South America, Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian Islands, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Orient. Madam Navarro, better known as Mary Anderson, the famous actress, has forwarded her check for a thousand dollars.

Survivors of the Titanic disaster have sent big contributions, with the request that their names be kept secret. The chief barber of the Titanic forwarded to the Washington offices a dollar bill which was in his pocket when he went down with the boat.

Mrs. Archibald Forbes, of New York, has contributed a dollar bill which was handed to her by Colonel John Jacob Astor, just before the Titanic sank, in settlement of the only game of bridge in which she has ever played.  The women of Bolivia are sending to Washington a block of virgin silver to be placed in the arch.

In every corner of the world branch associations are working to interest women and to collect funds with which will be built the greatest arch the world has ever seen.

The promoters of the memorial have read with keen interest the lately issued report of the British court of inquiry into the Titanic disaster. The report substantially corroborates the conclusions of the American investigating committee, headed by Senator William Alden Smith, of Michigan.

The British  court finds that the collision of the steamship with the iceberg was due to the ship's excessive speed, that a proper watch was not kept, that the arrangements for manning the boats were insufficient, etc.;  but it significantly declares that the steamship Californian might have reached the Titanic in time to save all on board had she attempted to do so. It is, therefore, evident that but for the timidity of the captain of the Californian there would have been no occasion for erecting the contemplated memorial.

The Titanic Memorial

The Titanic Memorial in Washington D.C.

The Titanic Memorial in Washington D.C. GGA Image ID # 105e836604

The Titanic Memorial located on the Southwest Waterfront in Washington, D.C. The memorial is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who won the commission in open competition, and sculpted by John Horrigan from a single piece of red granite furnished from Westerly, Rhode Island, by the Henry C. Smalley Granite Co. It was unveiled May 26, 1931, by Helen Herron Taft, the widow of President Taft.

The Titanic Memorial Inscription


To the Brave Men Who Perished in the Titanic April 15, 1912 They Gave Their Lives That Women and Children Might Be Saved

Erected by the Women of America


To the Young and the Old, the Rich and the Poor, the Ignorant and the Learned All Who Gave Their Lives Nobly to Save Women and Children

From Women to Men

The Memorial that the women of the United States are preparing for the men who went down with the Titanic stands for a feeling, strong and true, to be put into bronze for our descendants. In the struggle upward man and woman make their gains together.

Divided a little in function, they should be united in every aim. The controversy which goes with inevitable change flits by, and what is won is shared. To those men who willingly died for a law the women of their country can pay a tribute, moving, touching, more valued than from any other source a tribute which shall help their sons in centuries to come to meet fate boldly.

The tribute is not from a few. The money that goes to the Woman's Titanic Memorial, in the Union Trust Building at Washington, comes, dollar by dollar, from millions, and represents all the American wives and daughters and mothers who would share the gift dedicated “to the men who gave their lives that women and children might be saved.”


"The Woman's "Titanic" Memorial," in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper: The People's Weekly, New York: The Leslie-Judge Company, Publishers, Vol. CXV, No,. 2972, 22 August 1912, p. 181.

"From Women to Men," in Collier's: The National Weekly, New York: P. F. Collier & Son, Inc., Publishers, Vol. XLIX, No., 16, Saturday, 6 July 1912, p. 9.

"Titanic Memorial (Washington, D.C.)." Wikipedia. April 16, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic_Memorial_(Washington,_D.C.).

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