Miss Nabīah (Mary) Yūsuf

Miss Mary (Anna, Nabīah) Yūsuf (Joseph, Mary Peter)1 was born in Detroit, Michigan2 on 21 August 1909.3

She was the daughter of Peter Joseph (Buṭrus Yūsuf) (b. circa 1883), a labourer, and Kātrīn Rizq (b. circa 1886), both Lebanese immigrants who had married in Detroit, Michigan on 5 September 1904.

Mary, her mother and brother returned to Syria (Lebanon) around 1910 to visit relatives and perhaps because of monetary woes back in America. For the return to Detroit, the family boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg as third class passengers (ticket number 2668 which cost £22, 7s, 2d).

The family escaped intact from the disaster although there are differing accounts as to how they survived.

Upon landing in New York young Mary and her brother were found to have contracted measles and were hospitalised in St Vincent's before they made the journey to Detroit.

In following years the family made their home at an apartment above a grocers at 134 Congress Street East, Detroit. On Sunday 22 March 1914 a 4-year-old Mary was left at home alone, asleep in her crib, whilst her parents and brother Michael went to church, the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. Michael Tonie, the grocer who lived directly below the Joseph family, heard the screams of a child and rushed up to the apartment. Kicking open a bedroom door he was met with flames and spotted young Mary standing helpless in the middle of the room, her clothes alight. Mr Tonie, without regard for his own safety, beat the flames out with his bare hands and swept the child up and rushed her down to his grocery store where he telephoned for an ambulance; Mary was taken to St Mary's Hospital. Her parents, upon returning from church, were met by a policemen who informed them of events and they hastened to the hospital.

Mary died from her injuries later that day with her parents by her side. She is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, Detroit, in an unmarked grave (section 44, Tier 10, Space 529 paupers section).


  1. Sometimes listed as "Anna"; Ellis Island records and her death notice record the name as "Mary". Elias (2011) reports that her name as declared in Arabic media was Nabīah. 
  2. Her birthplace is often listed as Lebanon/Syria; the Ellis Island records state that she had been born in the USA but her death certificate states she was born in Assyria (sic). The family were Lebanese but possibly of Assyrian ethnicity and descent. 
  3. Date as per death certificate. Ellis Island records state that she was 19 months at the time of her arrival in New York aboard Carpathia. Another date cited is 21 September 1909.    

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2017) 
Detroit News (1914) 

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Joseph (Yūsuf) Family (5 posts)
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Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Phillip Gowan, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany

References and Sources

State of Michigan Certificate of Death
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2020) Nabīah (Mary) Yūsuf Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1134, updated 13th January 2020 18:27:18 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/anna-mary-joseph-peter-joseph.html