June 2021

Titanic Book Club Newsletter

This issue is dedicated to the 126 children (under 14) aboard Titanic, and the 59 who perished.
*The Titanic Book Club would appreciate any corrections to these numbers.
The entire Andersson family perished in the sinking.
Children: Sigrid Elisabeth Andersson (11) Ingeborg Constanzia Andersson (9)
 Ebba Iris Andersson (6) Sigvard Harald Elias Andersson (5) Ellis Anna Maria Andersson (2)
"The greatest and most tragic experience of my life."
Jack Ryerson-13
Titanic Children: Eyewitnesses to History

Amazon description

This is the story of the Titanic through the eyes of the children and teenagers who saw her and who sailed on her. For some of those who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the ramifications of the disaster were to be long-lasting. Many of the young people were mentally scarred by the events of that terrible night and effectively became victims of the Titanic after the fact, plagued by nightmares well into adulthood. Others tried their best to put the whole affair behind them. But it wasn’t always easy. The world, it seemed, was insatiable for the Titanic – and interest in the disaster has grown and grown. As child-survivor Lillian Asplund confessed ruefully in an interview before her death, she wanted to forget it all, ‘But people always want to remind me...’ However, This book, Titanic Children, seeks to answer other questions. What did young people think about the mighty ship being built and later launched in Belfast? What was it like to wave the new liner off on her maiden voyage from Southampton almost a year later? Moreover, how did it feel when she never returned? It is clear that over the last hundred years the Titanic has cast a long shadow over children who had never even set foot on the famous ship. What is their story? In Titanic Children, Anthony Cunningham has edited together dozens of fascinating accounts that tell the story of the doomed liner from its construction to its untimely end and beyond.

MEET THE AUTHOR, Anthony Cunningham

Anthony Cunningham became fascinated with the Titanic story after seeing the spectacular 'raising scene' from the 1980 movie, Raise the Titanic.  In the late 90s he befriended the last survivor of the disaster, Millvina Dean, who tasked him with writing her biography.  His latest book, Titanic Children, took him two full years to research, but it is, he believes, his best work to date.  He has been a high school teacher for over twenty years and resides in a small town near London.
Images from the film, Raise the Titanic.

 Titanic: The Last Survivor

The book’s Introduction, dated October 2008, was written by Millvina Dean who said, “The Titanic meant very little to me at the time. Nobody seemed to talk about it very much and the fact that my father had died on the ship didn’t really make a huge impression on me. After all, what was the Titanic to me? It didn’t seem to have any bearing on my world at all. That I had been the youngest survivor of the disaster meant even less! My mother told me the facts and that was that.”

The Titanic Diaries

A childhood fascination of shipwrecks and a meeting with Millvina Dean, the youngest Titanic survivor, inspired the author to meet more survivors of both the Titanic and other disasters. They are the people who tell the stories here - all tales of overcoming adversity and personal loss and living and moving on in the aftermath.

Remembering Illinois' Children of the Titanic

by Yvette Medina
From left to right: Eleanor Johnson (18 months old), Harold Johnson (4) and Alden Gates Caldwell (10 months old). Digital Illustration - Collage on Photoshop, by Yvette Medina

In the summer of 2019, I remember going for a stroll down by the downtown neighborhood of St. Charles with my children. There wasn’t much going on until I saw we were approaching the St. Charles Museum. We entered and were welcomed by a tall blonde lady who asked the purpose of our visit. I told her that this was our first time and wanted to see the museum. We were let in - it was small but their items were intriguing. Then, we came across a tall white structure that was standing to the left side of our path. As I came closer, I noticed that one portion of the museum was a special exhibition of the Titanic. I was on cloud nine - was this a dream? Like a child, I could not contain my excitement and so I made my way to see the museum’s special exhibit. There were pictures of the ship, the cabins, items and clothes that people would have worn at the time of the Titanic. But the features that stood out to me the most were the pictures of the families that boarded the ship - the Caldwell and the Johnson family. Ever since, I have been interested to find out more as to who they were, how and what led them to the ship. More specifically, the youngest members - Alden Caldwell, Harold and Eleanor Johnson. Only half of the population was going to make it on that fateful night. For the families Caldwell and Johnson, it was just a race around the clock to get to safety, seeing if they’d ever reach their final destination - their homes in Illinois.


Alden Gates Caldwell was born in the kingdom of Siam on June 10,1911. He was the son of Albert and Sylvia Caldwell. His parents were set in Bangkok and assigned as Presbyterian missionaries. However, their missionary work was cut short. The Caldwells had to return home because of Sylvia’s health. They left Siam on February 21 or 22 of 1912. Destination: Biggsville, Illinois. Alden and his parents travelled the world together. Their journey started in Parkville, Missouri, going westward to Siam. And then, they continued to circumnavigate the globe once more: from southeast Asia, through the Middle East, the Mediterranean to amazing landscapes of Europe until they reached London, England. On April 10th, 1912, Alden and his family reached Southampton, England and boarded the Titanic, securing their ticket as 2nd class passengers.

    On the night of April 14, 1912, the Caldwell’s went to bed at 10 pm. Baby Alden (10 months old) was restless and Sylvia tried to sooth him back to sleep. The restless episode continued until the clock struck 11:40 pm, a sudden shudder of the ship” was felt - as if a large dog had a baby kitten in its mouth and was shaking it,” recalled Sylvia. Having realized that the engines stopped, Albert went to see what was the matter. A sailor told him that they bumped into an iceberg. “It didn’t do any harm, I guess,” he said. Albert discussed the commotion with Sylvia and thought nothing of it and went to bed. But for Sylvia, going back to sleep was out of the question. Later, a seaman was running by so fast and shouting, “Everyone on deck with his lifebelt!” she recalls. They dressed in their warmest clothes to head up on deck. But for little Alden, all of his clothes were locked in the trunk, and the keys were nowhere to be found. They made due with a steamer rug and wrapped Alden with a nightie-clad, wore their lifebelts and headed up on deck. 

    In disbelief and confusion, they bumped into a few stokers. They pleaded with him to get his family to safety, but Albert was not convinced about the Titanic sinking. “Get your family off the boat. If it is still here, you can get back on,” said one stoker, pointing directly at lifeboat 13. Lawrence Beesley, recounts later, as lifeboat 13 was about to lower, a family came and hurried aboard. Beesley was referring to Albert, Sylvia and baby Alden. As the dawn came, the Carpathia arrived to the rescue. Unlike the other passengers, Sylvia couldn’t climb due to her ongoing illness, so crewman of the Carpathia had to pull her up in a rope swing. For baby Alden, those in the lifeboat put him in a sack, and the crewman overhead pulled him up to the deck as well where he returned to the safety of his father’s arms. The family arrived in New York safe and sound, and boarded the train travelling westward to their hometown of Biggsville, Illinois.


Harold Theodor Johnson was born on January, 28, 1908, and Eleanor Ileen Johnson (Schuman) was born on August 23, 1910 to parents Alice Johnson Peterson and Oscar Johnson in the small Fox River Valley city of St. Charles, Illinois. Their journey started in early 1911 when Alice received news that her father was dying, so she travelled back to Finland, taking Harold and Eleanor with her. Sadly, by the time they arrived, their grandfather had passed away. For the next nine months, they’d spend time with their family and visit other family members. Their mother wrote to their father of her plan to return home, confirming that they would be boarding the Titanic in third-class and expected to arrive in New York by April 18th, 1912. They were accompanied by two ladies from Ramkvilla, Småland, Sweden - Helmina Nilsson and Elin Braf. 

According to the TV interview, Elgin Week in Review (1995) Eleanor recounts the night from what her mother, Alice Johnson told her. She recalled the Titanic had struck an iceberg at 11:40pm. “ brother was asleep in the bunk and he was thrown on the floor and then the ladies went on the deck to see what was going on.” Eleanor continues, “[There] was ice all over the deck and they were kicking it around...and an officer came down [and said] ‘Everybody, get back to your cabins--We’ll be getting underway shortly.’” Later, the table stewards came and banged the door and summoned, “Get your coats on - the Titanic is sinking”. They reached the upper decks and got there about 2 am. There were officers by the lifeboat telling Alice to come over and get in the boat. However, she was frightened to get through because of the height and “space between the ship and the lifeboat.” Furthermore, Eleanor recounts that a man in the lifeboat assisted Alice and said “Don’t look down, close your eyes, fall forward and I’ll help you.” He succeeded to get Alice, along with baby Eleanor, aboard. 

As for Harold, who was 4 years old at the time, Alice checked to see if she was being followed by the others. But to her dismay, the ladies and her son were still on deck. Helmina got into the boat but Elin, while holding Harold, refused. Alice told Elin to drop Harold but she was so fearful that she couldn’t let the boy go. “So a man standing next to her took Harold out of her arms and dropped him into the lifeboat. And they passed him back to Mom and she took her life jacket off and put it on my brother…” The lifeboat lowered away, and the group of 5 became 4. Eleanor recalls that Elin “went down with the ship.” They were eventually rescued by the Carpathia and climbed aboard by mail bags while their mother had to climb a rope ladder. Their father, Oscar, received the news via telegram that his wife and children were safe. The family was being cared for in St. Luke’s Hospital in New York City, New York. Alice and her two children were reunited with their father at last and returned to their home in St. Charles.



Alden grew up to become a research chemical engineer. He began college at Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1933, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. He lived for most of his life in Allentown, Pennsylvania and remained single for the rest of his life. Before his retirement in 1968, he had issues with immigration. Because he was born in Thailand, he struggled to show proof of his citizenship in order to receive his social security benefits. During his retirement, he’d spent time travelling between Florida and Wisconsin. When it came to talking about the Titanic, he was not too keen on the subject but wouldn’t mind talking about it. Alden Caldwell passed away on Dec. 18, 1992 in Florida. He was buried at East Lawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Bloomington, Illinois.
Alden, already a grown up, in his bathing suit at “his” lake in Wisconsin.  Courtesy of Julie Hedgepeth Williams.


Harold grew up and became a tinsmith at the International Harvester Company in Melrose Park (Illinois) until his retirement in 1967. He was a member of the St. Charles Moose. He married Harriet Trull (b. Dec 22, 1912) and had two children: Richard (b. 1937) and Jane. He remained in Wayne, IL until his passing on April 10, 1968. He died of acute pancreatitis at age 60. He is buried in Little Woods, Cemetery, St. Charles.

Eleanor became a watch factory worker and later as a telephone operator in Elgin, Illinois. She got married to Delbert Earl Shuman and lived in Elgin for the rest of her life. She had one child, Earl Delbert, born on July 6, 1944. During the 50s, Alice and her children (by this time, grown adults), were guests for the screenings of the films Titanic (1953) and A Night to Remember (1958). Years later, Eleanor was the guest of honor for James Cameron’s Titanic (1997). She was the only survivor whom Cameron was able to meet. Eleanor lived on for a few more years until March 7, 1998, when she died at the age of 87. She is buried at Lakewood Memorial Park, Elgin, Illinois.


The Johnsons, circa 1958, at the the screening of A Night to Remember. Left to right: Alice. Eleanor, and Harold.
Photo credit: Encyclopedia Titanica/Daily Herald, 15 Dec., 1997, Gavin Bell.
Eleanor in her later years, with Titanic (1997) film director, James Cameron looking through a souvenir book that belonged to her. Photo credit: Associated Press.
The Johnsons’ gravesites. Left to right: Harold Johnson (Little Woods Cemetery, St. Charles, IL, USA), Eleanor Johnson Schuman (Lakewood Memorial Park, Elgin, IL, USA) Photo credit: Yvette Medina

Encyclopedia Titanica. "Eleanor Ileen Johnson." (ref: #909, last updated: 28th September 2018, accessed 29th May 2021 22:24:49 PM).

Encyclopedia Titanica. "Harold Theodor Johnson." (ref: #908, last updated: 19th August 2018, accessed 29th May 2021 23:03:10 PM).

Geni, "Harold Theodor Johnson." Accessed 16 May 2021.

Hedgepeth Williams, Julie. A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells' Story of Survival, 2012. NewSouth Books, pp. 47-163


Teller Report, 15 Apr. 2020. "The Incredible Rescue Story of 27-Year-Old Alina and the Children - They Were Titanic's ‘Unknown’ Finns, Destiny Inspired Longing Music.”

Titanic Universe.  “Titanic Survivor Eleanor Shuman.”,Accessed 16 May 2021.

YouTube, uploaded by Gail BordenPL, 10 Apr. 2012. “Elgin Resident Eleanor Johnson Shuman Recounts Her Titanic Experience.”

NOTE: Alden and Harold and Eleanor digital collages were exclusively designed for this portion of the newsletter.

June born members & passengers!

Devin Colman
Eberhard Thelander Fischer
Wallace Henry Hartley
Michael Joseph Rogers
Alfred John Olliver
William Harder
Bertie Wilson
-3rd - 

Steward Ruskin & Vicky Johnson

Samuel Beard Risien
Washington Dodge
Catherine Connolly

-7th - 

Cynthia Joy

Charles Osker Hendrickson
Wendla Maria Heininen
Philip Aks
Robert John Adams

Mary McGovern
-11th -   

Jenn Kocz
Alfred James Jacob Eagle
Alfred James Fellowes
George Edward Graham
Jakob Alfred Johanson

Alfred Charles Shiers
Lyyli Karoliina Silvén
André Clement Mallet
Miss Mary Bourke
Richard William Smith
-12th -

Bruce French

Vivian Ponsonby Payne
Vera Dick
Edith Louise Rosenbaum
Michel Marcel Navratil


Mary Canavan
William Patrick Kelly
Erik Gustaf Lind
William Young Moyes
Edward Arthur Dorkings

-30th -

Robert Randall
Bertram Frank Dean
Italo Francesco Donati
Stephen William Hinton
Harry John Slight
Pauline Caroline Gibson

*Contributed by Sonia Bera, with special thanks to the Titanic Museum Attraction for sharing their records with us.

We hope everyone has a wonderful and memorable birthday!  If you would like to be included in our birthday announcements, please send us an email


I read Jay Ludowyke's book, Carpathia, about the RMS Carpathia, the Cunard liner which answered the distressed call of the RMS Titanic. Ludowyke writes about the history of the RMS Carpathia and her rescue of the 705 Titanic survivors. Ludowyke also discusses the German U-boat 55's torpedoing of the Carpathia during WWI. Also discussed are the dives to Carpathia's wreck site.

Overall, this is a very good book. Ludowyke describes each aspect of, for the lack of a better word,, the life of the RMS Carpathia in great detail. The reader comes away with a feeling as if they were on the Carpathia. I thought the part where the Carpathia went to the aid of the stricken Titanic to be especially intense. I also was impressed with Ludowyke's meticulous description of the behavior of both the Titanic survivors and the passengers on the Carpathia after the Titanic's survivors were on board the Carpathia, and were headed to New York.

There were a couple things that I thought hurt the book. Ludowyke kept calling the Carpathia, "Thia." I didn't like that much. I also didn't like how she kept flashing back from events 1912 to 2007, when the diving was going on. It also would have been great, had the author, when talking about people in the book, would address them by their last names, so the reader doesn't have to struggle to remember who the author is referring.

However, this is overall, a very good book, and I highly recommend it for Titanic enthusiasts.

-Terri Bey


Voices of the Carpathia has some interesting side tidbits from their viewpoint & letters home. I enjoyed it.  - Nancy Jeanne

You'll read about how passengers gave up their rooms, and even their honeymoon suite to house survivors. You'll learn how everyone coped on board Carpathia with the extra 712 survivors, who boarded with nothing. - Jill Carlier

Just as if I were there. Amazing teleport device, George. A well written book!  - Joseph Levine

I use it for research all the time. - Bill Wormstedt

One of the most compelling ways to read about one of the most outrageous stories. Truly, these accounts are from the real people on the Carpathia and the Captains of other Steamers who found themselves thrust into one of the most gut wrenching sea disasters known. - Shelley B


May's Book Club Meeting!

We met with author of Carpathia, Jay Ludowyke this month. Jay did fantastic research on the RMS Carpathia, from her youth to her wreck.  We really think you will enjoy this interview!

Next Month

Let's read about Titanic's passengers in July.
Here are some suggestions from the book club team.

Pick your favorite!
"The second Titanic book I got; an invaluable compendium featuring the books of Beesley and Gracie, as well as Lightoller's autobiography chapters concerning the Titanic, and Harold Bride's New York Times interview."
-Dr. Paul Lee

" Violet Jessop was not only on Titanic and Olympic, but survived the sinking of the Britannic."
-Richard Holmes 

"The personal account of a prominent first class passenger."
-Mark Hopkins

"A fascinating look at the Titanic's maiden voyage through the eyes of her richest and most famous passengers, culminating in a series of "what happened to them?" histories of some of the survivors post-disaster."
-Kurt Nowak

"If you love hearing from the passengers themselves, this is the book for you. Jam packed full with personal letters!!" 
-Jill Carlier


by George Behe

Note: Mr. D. W. McMillan was on hand at the Cunard dock in New York
when the rescue ship Carpathia landed the Titanic’s survivors on the evening of April 18, 1912. McMillan’s sister, Mrs. Edward Robert, was one of those survivors, as were Mrs. Robert’s daughter (Georgette Madill), and her niece (Elizabeth Allen). Mr. McMillan later wrote a letter to his wife in Pleasantville, New Jersey, describing what Mrs. Robert told him about her experiences on the Titanic. — George Behe
My sister Georgette and Miss Allen were taken off in one of the last boats [boat #2] with the fourth officer [Boxhall] in charge, following his being commanded by Captain Smith to take charge of the boat. There was room for about two or three more persons in the boat, and Captain Smith called for the boat to come back. The officer ordered the boat turned, but as they started back they saw the stern of the Titanic rising in the air, and didn’t dare to go near for fear it was going to sink. Shortly afterward, the boat went down before them, and they say the shrieks of the steerage passengers were awful and heart rending. Captain Smith went down with the ship and came up again, but sank before they could reach him with the boat. She told me that Mr. Ismay and Mr. Astor were helping the passengers to get into the lifeboats until the last boat, and when no more women and children were around Mr. Ismay got into the back of one. Shortly following that, young [Jack] Thayer jumped into the water. There was no disorder during the whole thing.

Happy Anniversary to Titanic OFFICER'S QUARTERS!

The Children's group is growing every day! 
The children have been meeting and talking, playing, and enjoying each other's company so much. They have even started their own YouTube channel!

We hope you enjoy their contributions.


The Turbine Uptake
The Turbine Uptake is a shaft that went all the way down to the Turbine Room. It served as ventilation and exhaust from the Turbine Engine, as well as a spiral staircase to climb from the Turbine Room/Emergency Switchboard platform on the Orlop deck, as said by the 1911 Shipbuilder magazine: "The [light and air] shaft from the turbine room is surmounted by the fourth funnel, which is a most valuable adjunct for ventilating purposes." 

Alfred White, an engineer, climbed this staircase during the sinking, and one man was known to be at the top of the 4th Funnel at Queenstown. The 4th funnel was over the uptake, held this staircase, and also took ventilation from the First and Second Class Galley located amidships on D-Deck between the First and Second Class Dining Saloons. 

On A-Deck, it was enclosed by the mahogany paneling and stain-glassed windows of the First Class Smoking Room (First Image, May 1911, taken by Robert Welch)

On the Stern, the uptake is just a huge hole, with no discernible features.(second picture, NOAA 2003, looking straight down and to starboard slightly) It is often mistaken for the Aft Grand Staircase shaft, but that is with the Aft "Tower," another chunk of the ship that holds the center and portside of the Boat Deck, A, B, and C-Deck, around the engine Casing/skylight. During the descent to the sea floor, the Smoking Room was razed, and Destroyed. A couple chandeliers lie in the debris field. A stain-glass window frame lies next to the Lifeboat 16 davit. 

-Cameron Houseman


Benedict submitted this editorial for a school assignment, we think he deserved an A+++  (he did get an A+!))


Check out where Fisher wants to work when he grows up.
(we hope you can read that)
Also, congrats on winning the baseball championship, Fisher! 
Go Outlaws!
Back in April, member Frank and his mother, Anna, had a Titanic inspired dinner from the first class menu.  Frank's mother said, "the Olga Consommé was the most challenging (we served it with scallops’ disks); with the eclairs we added White Stars... however, we weren’t keen on the Waldorf pudding. It was great fun to learn about the life onboard from a different (food) angle."

Frank also wanted to share his Titanic model. He made it entirely from Legos!

Meet our newest member:

Clayton has quite the Titanic collection, including some pretty incredible images that were given to him by the Canadian Titanic Society. Clayton was also very lucky to have had his question answered in Dr. Robert Ballard's most recent webinar. His mother said she had never seen him more focused than at that event.  We are always so impressed with these young members!


Titanic, by Sonia Bera, pencil on paper.
Lusitania, by Caleb Clark, pencil on paper.


The kids really enjoy playing Titanic Roblox and other games together.   Here are a few shots from the fun!

Please follow the kids YouTube channel and watch for their premier soon!
Please Subscribe!

Newsletter Contributors:  

Yvette Medina, Mark Hopkins, Dr. Paul Lee, Kurt Nowak, Jill Carlier, Terri Bey, Sonia Bera, Benedict Rome, Cameron Houseman, and many of our wonderful members.

Thank you for all your support!


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