Photo: The Times Dispatch, April 18, 1912
Mrs George Dunton Widener (Eleanor Elkins), 50, was born in Philadelphia, PA on 21 September 1861
A resident of Elkins Park, PA, she boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with her husband George Widener, son Harry Elkins Widener, Mr Widener's manservant Edwin Keeping and her own maid Amalie Gieger. The Widener's occupied cabins C-80/82.
Mrs Widener was helped into Lifeboat 4 after more than an hour's wait by her husband and son. They then stood back to await their fate.
After their arrival in New York, Mrs Widener and Miss Gieger were met by a private train which took them back to Philadelphia.
After losing her husband and son to the sea, Mrs Widener devoted herself to charitable work. A lasting monument to her generosity stands as the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard for which she made a large donation. Her only stipulations being that no stone be touched as long as the library stands and that each graduate of Harvard pass a swimming test (she felt her son might have been saved had he been able to swim). Both rules stand today although the library has been augmented by new buildings in recent years.
In 1915 Mrs Widener married the geographer and explorer Dr Alexander Hamilton Rice of New York, NY and in the coming years followed him on several expeditions in South America.1 They also travelled extensively in Europe and India.
Eleanor died in Paris on 13 July 1937.
- She was still being accompanied by Miss Gieger in 1924 when they travelled to the Amazon.
References and SourcesAmerican Foreign Service Report of the Death of an American Citizen
Senate Hearings, 29 May 1912, Affidavit
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912