Titanic | The National Archives

Stories from The Titanic
Source - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection

The story of
Margaret 'Molly' Brown

First class passenger, Titanic
Margaret ‘Molly’ Brown was born on 18 July 1867 in Hannibal, Missouri, the daughter of Irish immigrants John Tobin and Johanna Collins.
Source - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection

Source - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection

She grew up in a cottage just blocks away from the Mississippi River, and attended a grammar school run by her aunt. As a teenager she worked stripping tobacco leaves at Garth's Tobacco Company in Hannibal.

During the early summer of 1886, she met James Joseph Brown, a miner whose parents had also emigrated from Ireland. They married on 1 September 1886 in Leadville, Colorado. The Browns had two children, Lawrence Palmer and Catherine Ellen.

By the time Margaret Tobin Brown boarded Titanic at Cherbourg, France, aged 45, she had already made a significant impact in the world. She had been one of the first women in the United States to run for political office, and ran for Senate eight years before women even had the right to vote.

Margaret had been travelling throughout Europe and was staying with John Jacob Astor's party in Cairo, Egypt, when she received word that her grandson was ill. She decided to leave for New York immediately, and booked passage on the earliest ship, Titanic.

After the ship struck the iceberg, Margaret helped load others into lifeboats and eventually was forced to board lifeboat six. She and the other women in the lifeboat worked together to row, keep spirits up, and dispel the gloom being broadcast by the emotional Robert Hichens.

Margaret Tobin Brown died of a brain tumour on 26 October 1932 in New York, where she had been working with young actresses. After a simple funeral service she was buried next to her husband James in Long Island's Holy Rood Cemetery.