Encyclopedia Titanica

Eleanor Widener

Eleanor Widener
Eleanor Widener

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.


  1. She was still being accompanied by Miss Gieger in 1924 when they travelled to the Amazon.

References and Sources

American 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[279])
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
The Times Dispatch, April 18, 1912

Research Articles

David Whitmire Titanica! (2008) The Wideners: An American Family
A Biographical Sketch of one of America's richest families

Newspaper Articles

Chicago American (16 April 1912) 300 OF TITANIC'S PASSENGERS WERE BOOKED AT PARIS
New York Times (17 April 1912) The Wideners
Washington Times (18 April 1912) MRS. GEORGE D. WIDENER
New York Times (19 April 1912) HOW J. B. THAYER DIED
Washington Herald (19 April 1912) ISMAY LEFT SHIP AT WOMEN'S PLEA
Washington Times (19 April 1912) WIDENER WAS HEROIC TO END, SAYS FRIEND
Traction Magnate Kissed Wife Good-By, Then Went Back To Die
Worcester Evening Gazette (20 April 1912) Pres. Hays Widow Leaves For Home
New York Times (23 April 1912) PHILADELPHIA SURVIVORS ILL
New York Times (21 May 1912) P. A. B. WIDENER GIVES $4,000,000 TO SCHOOL
New York Times (1 June 1912) CAPT. ROSTRON GUEST OF MRS. J. J. ASTOR
New York Times (2 June 1912) CAPT. ROSTRON GUEST OF MRS. J. B. THAYER
The Washington Herald (30 November 1912) Third Widow, Due to Titanic Wreck, Becomes a Mother
New York Times (15 August 1915) MRS. WIDENER NOT TO WED
New York Times (6 October 1915) Mrs. G. D. Widener to Marry Dr. Rice
New York Times (7 October 1915) EXPLORER RICE WEDS MRS. G. D. WIDENER
New York Times (12 August 1924) EXPLORER TO SEEK ORINOCO'S SOURCE
New York Times (17 August 1924) RICES BELIEVED SAFE
New York Times (22 August 1924) AMAZON TRAFFIC HINDERED
New York Times (4 October 1924) 3 OF RICE'S PARTY BACK FROM AMAZON
New York Times (6 March 1925) Mrs. Alex. H. Rice to Sail March 21
New York Times (14 July 1937) MRS. A. H. RICE DIES IN A PARIS STORE
Evening Bulletin (14 July 1937) MRS. A. H. RICE DIES IN PARIS AT 69
New York Times (20 July 1937) Mrs. A. H. Rice's Funeral Aug. 11
New York Times (11 August 1937) TWO RECEIVE SHARES IN ELKINS 27 MILLION
New York Times (17 August 1937) DR. ALEXANDER H. RICE GETS WIFE'S MILLIONS
New York Times (24 July 1956) ALEXANDER RICE, EXPLORER, WAS 80

Documents and Certificates

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Eleanor Widener (née Elkins)
Age: 50 years 6 months and 24 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to George Dunton
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113503, £211 10s
Cabin No. C80
Rescued (boat 4)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 13th July 1937 aged 75 years
Cause of Death:

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