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Titanic Fund Distribution - 1912

Two Widows and Their Children. Steerage Survivors Who Will Find the Relief Fund a Godsend.

Two Widows and Their Children. Steerage Survivors Who Will Find the Relief Fund a Godsend. © Underwood & Underwood. The Literary Digest (4 May 1912) p. 919. GGA Image ID # 10867a42f9

It is one of the bright spots in our memory, the work we did for the unfortunate Titanic seamen. Our help was of a temporary nature to the survivors and the friends who so generously helped them will be pleased to learn something about the permanent aid to the widows, children, and dependents of those who perished in the greatest marine catastrophe the world has known.

The net amount of the fund for the relief of Titanic sufferers has now reached approximately the sum of $2,133,900, and the following particulars in regard to its distribution have been made public.

It is proposed to set aside a million and a half dollars to meet the crew's claims, the 654 cases to be dealt with having been classified according to earnings upon information supplied by the White Star Line. Out of these seven classes have been arranged as follows:

  • Class A, number of cases, 13 ; widows' weekly allowance to be $10 .00
  • Class B, 54 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $7.62
  • Class C, 43 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $6.87
  • Class D, 177 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $5.00
  • Class E, 88 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $4.37
  • Class F, 246 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $3.75
  • Class G, 33 cases, widows' weekly allowance to be $3.12

The Different Classes of the Titanic Crew

The first class refers to widows of officers, the second to engineers and senior stewards, the third to engineers and under stewards, the fourth to engineers, stewards and storekeepers, the fifth to leading firemen, greasers and stewards, the sixth to sailors, firemen and trimmers, the seventh to casual stewards.

Other Allowances

Graduated allowances are also to be made to children in addition to these sums. Widows are to receive allowances for life or. until remarried. Children are eligible until they become of age. [1]

In all there is a grand total of 1,461 dependents, 592 of whom are minor children. It is proposed also to devote the sum of $700,000 to meet the claims of 513 passengers. Of these 200 belong to the United Kingdom and 313 are foreign.

[1] The allowances for children ceased at the age of sixteen for males and eighteen for females.

Distribution of the “Titanic" Fund

Titanic Relief Fund Cheque dated 1 April 1912 payable to W. H. Derrett, a relative of Fist Class Saloon Steward Arthur Derrett, who perished in the sinking.

Titanic Relief Fund Cheque dated 1 April 1912 payable to W. H. Derrett, a relative of Fist Class Saloon Steward Arthur Derrett, who perished in the sinking. Courtesy of Peter Boyd-Smith/Cobwebs. The National Archives (UK) Online Exhibition "Titanic: 100 Years 1912-2012, Artefacts and Memorbilia: Relief Fund Cheque. GGA Image ID # 1109023a62

The great fund for the relief of the dependents of the victims of the “Titanic” disaster, and known as the Mansion House Fund, is to be distributed in the following manner, if the scheme submitted to the Mansion House Committee by C. J. Stewart, the public trustee, is adopted.

The fund, amounting to $2,070,500, will be used for the benefit of 2,296 persons. The basis of calculation for the distribution of the fund is that the widows or other dependents of the sailors and officers who we nt down in the “Titanic" should receive a weekly grant approximately equivalent to half the victim’s income.

This basis is readily applicable to the members of the crew, but regarding the passengers the difficulty was much more significant. There are claims from the relatives of first-class passengers, for instance, which prove that the victim was in receipt of a considerable income, although he had not taken the precaution to insure his life or otherwise provide for those dependent on him, with the result that they are now destitute.

In such cases the half-income basis is inapplicable, so it is proposed that the maximum weekly grant to a childless widow be fixed at $10, and the minimum at $3. If the victim of the disaster left one child, the allowance to the widow or other dependents would be increased by about 90 cents per week; if two children, by $1.40 per week; and if three or more, by $1.75.

The proposed annuities are, generally speaking, for life, but there are some exceptions, however, such, for instance, as remarriage of the widow. In the case of children, the allowance will, as a rule, cease when they have attained the age of eighteen years.

An Op Ed on the Titanic Fund Distribution

Our age may in some of its aspects seem very materialistic, yet it is not without the inspiration that evolves a nobler life. That it is neither so sordid nor so callous as moody thinkers would have us believe becomes apparent when public attention is arrested by a catastrophe that suddenly takes many human lives out of the world's peaceful work.

Then we see that within our complex social system, notwithstanding its numerous defects, there beats a great compassionate heart, eager to give all the possible help.

Of this, we have a notable instance in the loss of the Titanic and the raising of the relief fund. When over fifteen hundred people went down to the depths of the ocean as "in the twinkling of an eye," under circumstances that lighted up the dark calamity with the glory of heroism, the collective heart of all classes throbbed with sympathy, and more than two million dollars was quickly subscribed to provide for the bereaved dependents who were face to face with destitution.

Not always are so-called relief funds managed satisfactorily, but the trustees of the Titanic fund, acting under the supervision of the public trustee, a government official, and guided by great actuarial advice, seem to have devised a plan of distribution by which the fund will be used most beneficially. It is not being divided all at once among those who are entitled to it but is to be gradually distributed over the long period of forty years, so that not only may all the children be educated, but that all the windows may have some support as long as they live.

Only about $140,000 has been spent in lump sum grants, for immediately necessitous cases. After twelve months' expenditure, over $1,800,000 is now invested.

This yields an annual income of about $73,000, but the yearly outgo exceeds $102,000, and therefore the capital, and consequently, the income also, will diminish from year to year.

Though such a result may seem to complicate matters, if not to cause confusion, the assurance is given that all have been carefully calculated to secure the ends in view.

As stated by the public trustee, the purpose is "to provide a periodical allowance throughout life in the case of a widow (with a modified allowance to children, parents, and other dependents) approximating to half the earnings of the victims of the disaster."

The annual amounts to be paid are such that, it is estimated, the death of the last Titanic widow in about forty years will coincide with the exhaustion of the fund. This plan is excellent in principle, and all will hope that it may be worked out with full success. — Boston Herald.

Bibliography

"Titanic Fund Distribution," in The Sailors’ Magazine and Seamen’s Friend, Vol. 84, No. 12, New York: American Seamen’s Friend Society, December 1912, p. 357

“Distribution of the ‘Titanic’ Fund,” in Popular Mechanics Magazine, Chicago: Popular Mechanics Co., Vol. 19, No. 1, January 1913, p. 85

"Woman's Department," [Op Ed Regarding the Titanic Fund Distribution], in The Sea Breeze, Boston: Boston Seaman's Friend Society, Vol XXV, No. 4, July 1913, p, 62

The total amount of this fund has been variously reported as $2,070,500 or $2,133,900. For a comprehenisve academic study on the Titanic Review Fund see: Sarah Gregson, Women and Children First? The Administration of Titanic Relief in Southampton, 1912–59, The English Historical Review, Volume CXXVII, Issue 524, February 2012, Pages 83–109,  https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cer352/ For a quick overview, see Titanic Relief Fund by the Numbers https://titanicfacts.net/titanic-survivors/ that idicated the total amount raised as £413,000, roughly the equivalent of £21,000,000 today.This was distributed from 1912-1959 to 2,296 people, most who lived in Southampton.

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