Encyclopedia Titanica

Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche

Joseph Laroche

Mr Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche was born in Cap Haitien, Haiti on 26 May 1886. In 1901, at age 15, he left Haiti and travelled to Beauvais, France, where he hoped to join the high school to study engineering.

While visiting nearby Villejuif Joseph met Miss Juliette Lafargue; After Joseph graduated and got his degree, he and Juliette were married in March of 1908. Their daughter Simonne was born 19 February 1909; a second daughter, Louise, was born prematurely on 2 July 1910, and suffered many subsequent medical problems.

Racial discrimination prevented Joseph Laroche from obtaining a high-paying job in France. Since the family needed more money to cope with Louise's medical bills, Joseph decided to return to Haiti to find a better-paying engineering job, the move being planned for 1913.

In March 1912, however, Juliette discovered that she was pregnant, so she and Joseph decided to leave for Haiti before her pregnancy became too far advanced for travel. Joseph's mother in Haiti bought them steamship tickets on the La France as a welcome present, but the line's strict policy regarding children caused them to transfer their booking to the Titanic's second class. On April 10 the Laroche family took the train from Paris to Cherbourg in order to board the brand new liner later that evening.

Joseph - who is thought to have been the only black passenger on the Titanic - died in the sinking but his family were saved, in which lifeboat is not certain (possibly 10).

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche
Age: 25 years 10 months and 20 days (Male)
Nationality: Haitian
Last Residence: in Paris, France
Occupation: Engineer
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 2123, £41 11s 7d
Destination: Cap Haitien, Haiti
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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Newspaper Articles

Le Matin (3 May 1912) Une Rescapée du Titanic

Documents and Certificates

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
(1912) Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea, National Archives, London; BT334/52 & 334/53

Letters and Diaries

(1912) Letter Re: Laroche Family

Bibliography

Judith Geller (1998) Titanic: Women and Children First, Haynes
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Laura Melinda Varjo

    Laura Melinda Varjo said:

    The Laroches were travelling from France to Haiti, where Joseph was from. It was Joseph's mom who bought them a surprise ticket, and Juliette, in return bought gifts for her, which she was carrying on the Titanic. Did they ever meet ? Has the grandma ever saw her two , later three little grandchildren ? Laura

  2. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    In 1920 Joseph's mother travelled to France to meet her grandchildren (and her daughter-in-law) for what was I think the first and only time. It seems that this meeting was not a very happy occasion and they parted more as strangers than family. Olivier Mendez can probably tell you more.

  3. Laura Melinda Varjo

    Laura Melinda Varjo said:

    Thank you for this information, I didn't know that Joseph's mom travelled all the way up to France to visit her daughter in law and grandchildren, that was nice of her. But I wonder as to why they parted, instead of being there for each other, when both had lost the same person they loved. Oh well. Thanks again. Laura

  4. Grant Woollacott

    Grant Woollacott said:

    It is noted in the biography of Mrs. Laroche that she was pregnant at the time of the sinking and gave birth to a Joseph Laroche Jr. later in 1912. It is also noted that he married a women named Claudine she is alive but he has since died and they had several children together. Dose anyone happen to know the names of these children?

  5. Linda Walker

    Linda Walker said:

    Is there a new Titanic movie coming out and will the movie show the Laroche family? The Laroche family should have been in the 1997 Titanic movie. Joseph Laroche was the only black passenger and died in the sinking of Titanic.

  6. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>Is there a new Titanic movie coming out and will the movie show the Laroche family?

  7. Adam Went

    Adam Went said:

    I'd suggest that interest in the Titanic will be restored in the lead up to, and following the centenary in April 2012 - perhaps there will be more movie ideas floated around then....

  8. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>perhaps there will be more movie ideas floated around then....

  9. Adam Went

    Adam Went said:

    Michael: Well it's always going to be hard to follow up with another Titanic movie after the success of the James Cameron one, because for one thing they will inevitably be compared - however, milestones often play a large part in successful projects so I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of Titanic film appear around 2012, even if it's just a made for TV one as you say. Or perhaps even a second GOTA-style documentary....

  10. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>Or perhaps even a second GOTA-style documentary....

  11. Adam Went

    Adam Went said:

    Michael: Interesting stuff! They really need to try and get as much footage from inside the wreck as possible now, because in another 5 or 10 years it might be too late. Just hopefully she will hang in there until the centenary atleast. Wonder if Bob Ballard has any plans to return to the site any time soon? (Yes, we're a bit off topic....)

  12. Michael H. Standart

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>Wonder if Bob Ballard has any plans to return to the site any time soon?

  13. steven p greiner

    steven p greiner said:

    From what I have read, I have heard that there will be a 3-dimensional image of the ship that will measure thicknesses of decks, bulkheads, and hull, and will project it into a 3-d image for posterity, showing images, or at least shapes of the interior contents. Now that sounds pretty cool, but does that technology really exist? I have seen many articles on the web about this, with woods hole returning there this summer, sans Ballard of course.

  14. Adam Went

    Adam Went said:

    Michael: Well I suppose Bob is getting on for 70 years old now and might want to wind the roster down a bit as well, but it'd still be good.....actually it would have been good to have had a 25th anniversary of the discovery reunion this September or something, though clearly that's not in the pipeline! Steven: Very high-tech, though wouldn't it be easier to try and create that image using original photos and dimensions? Would imagine it'd be easier, not to mention more accurate, than trying to do it on a ship that's been 2.5 miles underwater for 100 years.....still, if they're... Read full post

  15. steven p greiner

    steven p greiner said:

    I have no doubt that it will be hyped, perhaps over hyped, to satisfy many different agendas. not the least being James Cameron's 3-D release. One must wonder what the condition of the North Atlantic shall be April 15, 2012. I doubt that any ships at the location of the wreck will be sitting in a calm sea enjoying cocktails on deck on that particular day. The North Atlantic will have the last word.

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Acknowledgements

George Behe, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Olivier Mendez, France

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2005) Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche (ref: #486, last updated: 22nd September 2005, accessed 25th November 2021 06:43:36 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/joseph-laroche.html