Women Smoking

Is it known that any women passengers smoked, or after the sinking. I know that Women smoking in 1912 was inproper, but I bet there were some who did.

Thank you

Andrew J.M. Maheux
Hi Andrew,

I don't remember there ever being a recollection of a female Titanic passenger smoking during the voyage. There were a number of female survivors who smoked in the years following the disaster. Walter Lord often said that Rene Harris was quite the chain smoker. There always seemed to be a thin cloud of smoke hovering in her apartment whenever he visited.

Off hand, I remember being told that Mrs. Cardeza and Mrs. Spedden were smokers in later years.

I remember a funny moment in Boston in 1988 when survivor Beatrice Sandstrom attended the T.H.S. convention at the Copley Plaza. One evening, we were walking across the park in front of the hotel on our way to have some dinner. Sitting by herself, quite content, she sat on a park bench and was enjoying a good light. As we passed, she looked up, smiled, and gave a little wave. I heard later that she would often retire to the park during the convention to enjoy a cigarette. Some of her Swedish friends who had traveled to Boston with her didn't like her smoking - so she removed herself from their presence and enjoyed herself. After all, it was her first time back in the United States in 75 years!

Hope this helps....


Thats great info, Thanks Mike. Does anyone else have information into this, I am also interested in the women who smoked after the sinking.

Thanks, Andrew
I have often wondered about women smoking on Titanic too because after seeing Rose smoking I wondered if that was accurate for women to be smoking on Titanic. Thanks for providing good information, Mike.
I believe smoking in general, regardless of gender, was only acceptable at certain times and under specific circumstances. For example, many smokers now will say that smoking while under stress is normal. In 1912 High Society it was said that smoking in times of emergency was seen as extreme and in poor taste. Therefore, it is unlikely to see anyone, especially women, admitting to smoking at the time. I would also assume that many women did, in fact, smoke only to keep it hidden and performed in private.

1st post by the way. I love this site.
Thanks Phil,

I wonder how they stayed so pretty in the photoraphs. Probably alot of make-up. As a smoker myself, I think that women wouldn't smoke as much, to keep their appearence pleasent. Oh by the way, do any photographs exsist of any of the female survivors having a smoke, or were they not photographed in that manner.


Andrew M.

Well, here's more grist for the mill.....Jean Hippach Scharin was a smoker also -- according to her granddaughter. I think I have a picture of
Jean holding a cigarette in a photo taken at her home on Cape Cod in 1972. Will have to dig that one out.....

Mahala Douglas was a smoker as well - much to the dismay and annoyance of many Douglas family members.

Third class survivors Sarah Roth and Emily Badman were smokers.

Second-class passenger Marjory Collyer Dutton smoked for a number of years but had quit prior to her death.

Although she wasn't on the Titanic, Captain Smith's daughter, Helen, was a smoker and was photographed on the set of the movie A NIGHT TO REMEMBER usually with a cigarette in her hand.

It's a wonder poor Rene Harris lived to be 93 given her smoking habit. She looked 93 even when she was 53. I heard Rene Harris also enjoyed her Scotch and Gin.

Why am I led to believe that old Edy Russell enjoyed a good cigar on occasion?

Hope this helps, Andrew.


I have no doubt that there were smokers, only that they kept it hidden. Especially the first class passengers. Hey if it was me I would be fighting my way to a lifeboat with a cigarette in each hand and one in my mouth. I wonder now what tobacco products were offered on board. If, at the time, there were brands popular among women and if women, themselves, would have purchased them while on their trips.
Smoking was quite the thing among European society women and actresses by 1912. The impression that it was not "done" is wrong. It was actually the latest craze, declaring to all that one was fashionable and "moderne."

So although conservative types considered the trend of women smoking to be improper, attitudes were changing. In America it was still a shock of course. In 1908, London stage star Mrs. Pat Campbell, while dining at the Ritz-Carlton in New York, was asked by the maitre d'hotel to extinguish her cigarette as the "sight" was offending other guests. She absolutely refused and management was forced to compromise by having a screen put around her table! In 1910 at a White House luncheon, President Taft was displeased when the wife of the Russian ambassador lit up a ciggie; he afterwards thanked the American ladies for not following her example.

Lady Duff Gordon smoked Benson and Hedges while in the U.S. and when in Paris she had specially rolled, monogrammed, scented cigs made for her; these she smoked through a long, straw-tipped holder. I'm sure she smoked aboard the Titanic and all other ships she sailed on, though she probably would not have made a production of it.

Even so it was beginning to be a common sight for women to smoke in public - even on shipboard - though the American press remained critical.

In October 1912, "Lucile," as she disembarked the Kronprinzessin Cecille (sp?), was asked by clamoring reporters what she thought about the "spectacle" of women smoking on board. Poking her way through the throng with her walking stick, she exclaimed: "Nobody cares about that! All chic women smoke nowadays. Only the old frumps and those it makes sick are the exceptions."

And here, from the New York society rag "Town Topics," is an indelicate joke (for those days)which Lucile, a staunch advocate of "the New Woman," told at a dinner party at Sherry's in 1912:

"Two girls are chatting up matters of love over cocktails and cigarettes. One says: 'Marriages are made in Heaven.' Her friend agrees:'Yes, but thank the Lord to unmake them, we only have to go so far as Reno.'"

I have a news clipping that her granddaughter, the late Flavia Anderson, gave me from some New York paper of a letter-to-the-editor written by a parish priest in which he complains about various press interviews with Lucile whom, he insists, "ought to be ashamed" for condoning drinking, smoking, dancing and "naughty dressing" on the part of young ladies. "Despite her title," he sniffed, "I am convinced she is no lady."
Ok now is as good a time as any to throw this out here. It is my belief that the unidentified woman photographed by Father Brown on the aft A deck promenade is in fact holding a cigarette discretely in her hand.

I came to this conclusion after some time studying the photo under magnification. Unfortunately I haven't seen the actual print, rather only from the book, "Last Days...". Nevertheless, I am quite convinced that she is indeed holding a cigarette to her side. Which makes sense as she is walking outside in the morning breeze. She is shielding the fire from the wind, and presumably from blatant public sight.

This is obviously a very candid photo, snapped suddenly and without warning to the subjects. Photography in 1912 generally required the subjects to remain still to reduce blurring as the shutter speeds were very long by comparison to today's cameras. These people are simply strolling around the deck. This element of surprise may be why we actually get to see a woman of the day indulging is such a so called 'taboo'. I tend to agree with Randy that although 1912 conservative culture disapproved of such behavior, women smoking publicly probably was happening more and more commonly.

And also, remember that voyages at sea often invite a person to indulge themselves in behavior beyond what one would normally exhibit at home. The midnight all-you-can-eat buffets, the all night poker game, and the lure of sexual indiscretions and romance aboard ship. Its like the rules are relaxed once you loose sight of land. As if there is an unspoken but collective forgiveness for breaches of social etiquette at sea born out of the necessity of dwelling in such cramped spaces with others while on board. And by the fact that 2000+ humans on a boat at sea for a week causes a group stir craziness to develop. Ask any modern cruise ship employee and I'll bet they can support this observation.

Anyway, this is a great topic. I would appreciate hearing from others regarding the woman in the Brown photo.

I'll vote against it. I think it's only her forefinger.

One thing I'll add to this thread is that in 1912 cigarette advertising was not aimed at women. They sometimes appear in advertisements, but only as onlookers, perhaps admiring a man who smokes the right brand. In the 1920s, the cigarette makers realised there was money to be made out of women and smoking was depicted as sophisticated.
Women were used in advertising for cigarettes before the 1920s. Murad used women and another brand did as well. I have seen them especially on the backs of programmes for Broadway shows. The earliest ad I've seen showing a woman smoking is 1916 in a Ziegfeld Follies playbill. I have also seen photographs of American silent screen stars from the teens posed with cigarettes, including Pauline Frederick, Pearl White and Theda Bara. And on one of the fashion threads I posted a 1912 photo of British singer/dancer Gertie Millar smoking a cigarette.

Women celebs in the 20s who appeared in ads for cigarettes include decorator Elsie de Wolfe and actresss Fannie Ward.