The Finns on Board the Titanic


April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the largest and the most luxurious ocean liner of its time, RMS Titanic, which collided with an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. There were 2,223 passengers and crew members on board, 706 of whom survived. Altogether, 1,517 men and women lost their lives in the disaster. The rescue operation continued for days, but all the bodies could not be recovered. Several hundreds vanished in the deep waters. The remains of more than 300 victims were found, but some were buried at sea as well. Most of those buried on land were laid to rest in the three cemeteries of Halifax, Canada.

The Titanic also carried Finnish passengers: some were immigrating to America for the fi rst time, others coming back after visiting the old country. There were voyagers traveling alone as well as parties and entire families. Diff erent sources suggest there were 63 Finns on the Titanic, only 20 of whom survived. However, this number might not include all of the Finns on board. E.g. SS Carpathia, which brought the survivors to New York on April 18, 1912, had on its passenger list Finnish citizen Alice Johnson and her two children, who were actually American citizens. Alina Backberg from Helsinki does not appear on any other list of Finns on board.

The purpose of this presentation is to describe the destinies of the Finns on the Titanic. All of them embarked on the Titanic at Southampton, from where the maiden voyage began on April 10, 1912. However, the majority had started their journey in Hanko by boarding the SS Pola ris on April 3, 1912. Some had traveled fi rst to Sweden and then journeyed on from Gothenburg to England. There were also those, who had planned to leave England on a diff erent ship, but under unfortunate circumstances had a change of plans and ended up on the Titanic.

This presentation is based on information gathered by Jarno Linnolahti, Director of The Provincial Archives of Joensuu, about the Finnish passengers on the Titanic (http://koti. /jartsi50 /Index_fi les/titmat03.htm). Encyclopedia Titanica ( has been the most important source of information. Added to that is data from published literature, various archives as well as private citizens. Linnolahti's list has been completed mostly with the help of church documents, passport and passenger records as well as information from the Vital Records of the United States. I would like to express my gratitude to Jarno Linnolahti for his magnifi cent teamwork.

In the second edition of this publication passenger presentation has been revised and expanded. Further illustrations have also been added, as well as excerpts from original passenger lists and newspapers.

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