Encyclopedia Titanica

Dr Alice Leader

First Class Passenger

Alice May Leader
Alice May Leader

Dr Alice Leader was born as Alice May Farnham on 10 May 1862 in Batavia, Genesee, New York.

She was the daughter of Reuben Humphreys Farnham (1827-1902), a prominent New York businessman, and Frances Elizabeth Humphreys (1841-1909), both native New Yorkers. She had four siblings: Anna Elizabeth (b. 1868, later Mrs Clarence Newton Dwight), Edith (b. 1871), Reuben (1873-1919) and Jessie (b. 1877, later Mrs Donald Tolles) and the family appear on the 1880 census living in Attica, Wyoming, New York.

Her father Reuben was a native of Attica, New York and came from an old American family of English ancestry. He had studied law in Ballston Spa, New York and was admitted to the Bar in 1852. Instead of pursuing a law career he travelled to Kansas where he dabbled in real estate where he made his fortune before returning to New York in 1860 and establishing the First National Bank of Batavia in 1864. In 1869 he and his family returned to Attica where he was prominent in the affairs of the town and he operated a brewery before his death on 2 April 1902.

Alice received a privileged education and graduated from the Attica Union Academy before entering medical school in Philadelphia, a career path most uncommon for women at the time. She studied in Paris and later returned to the USA and served in the Willard Insane Asylum and the Insane Asylum of New York City.

She was married on 2 November 1892 in St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, New York to John Augustine Leader. John was the son of Irish immigrant parents Richard Leader and Ellen McCarthy and he was born in Auburn, Maine in January 1863 and grew up in Lewiston, Androscoggin, Maine. Alice and John, who remained childless, were prominent physicians in John's home town of Lewiston. John Leader died suddenly in Boston on 9 October 1900 aged 37.

John Augustine Leader
John Augustus Leader
Alice Leader
Alice Leader

Alice had spent a three-month-long vacation in Panama and France, in the company of Margaret Swift and was returning to her home and medical practice in New York. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 17465 which cost £25, 18s, 7d) and she shared cabin D-17 with Mrs Swift. She was also acquainted with Mr and Mrs Frederick Kenyon whilst aboard.

She was rescued in lifeboat 8 along with Mrs Swift and Mrs Kenyon.

Following her survival Dr Leader related that she saw no panic aboard the ship during evacuation and spoke of the generosity of those aboard the Carpathia towards the survivors.

After her rescue from the Titanic Alice returned to work. She retired in the 1920s (one source says 1936) and was a frequent visitor to the Orlando, Florida area where a married sister lived.

Alice Leader died whilst visiting relatives in Orlando on 20 April 1944 aged 81 and she was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Attica, New York.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Dr Alice May Leader (née Farnham)
Age: 49 years 11 months and 5 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Widowed
Occupation: Doctor
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17465, £25 18s 7d
Cabin No. D17
Rescued (boat 8)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cause of Death:
Buried: Forest Hill Cemetery, Attica, New York, United States

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References and Sources

Lewiston Evening Journal, 13 October 1900; 16 April 1912
The Winter Park Herald (Florida), April 28, 1944 (Obituary)
New York Herald, April 19, 1912, p. 4
State of Florida Certificate of Death (#8809)

Newspaper Articles

Brooklyn Daily Times (16 April 1912) FRIENDS EXPECT TO HEAR FROM MRS. SWIFT SOON
Expected to be in Manhattan by Saturday
Worcester Evening Gazette (19 April 1912) Brave Countess Takes Charge of Lifeboat
New York physician escaped on the same boat as Countess Rothes
Evening Bulletin (20 April 1912) Titanic Survivor Writes of Horror to Friend Here
Like Scene on Stage says Dr. Alice Leader in Letter
Winter Park Herald (28 April 1944) DR. ALICE F. LEADER (Death Announcement)


New York Herald (1912) Dr Alice Leader

Documents and Certificates

(1944) Alice May Leader (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Mac Smith

    Mac Smith said:

    This is a cross-post from the L. Duff-Gordon thread. It may be more appropriate under a thread for Dr. Alice Leader, of which I cannot find a current one. Thank you Shelley. Mrs. Astor always warms my heart. And, Randy, not only do Mrs. Astor and Mrs. Duff-Gordon charm me, but all those women that survived, and those who did not, charm me also. Dr. Alice Leader is another. Though not a diva, she had spent six years practicing pediatric or general medicine in Lewiston, Maine, a town gritty even by today's standards. At the time of the sinking rich and poor alike in Lewiston were... Read full post

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