by Linda Burlingame
Of the 3,560 lifejackets on the RMS Titanic when she sailed in April of 1912, only twelve are known to exist today. From March through June 15, 2019, seven of those will be on display at Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Missouri. It’s the largest number of lifejackets ever assembled. There were more than enough for the 2,208 people onboard, and most passengers were wearing one. There were 20 lifeboats, more than required by the British Board of Trade but not enough for the passengers and crew onboard. Many of those cast off were not filled to capacity; only 705 people were rescued in lifeboats.
Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, a passenger on Titanic, survived in a lifeboat with eleven others. While on the Carpathia, the ship that picked up all the survivors, she and the others signed each other’s lifejackets. The one worn by Lucy’s secretary, Laura Francaelli, will occupy a place of honor during its first public showing. Lady Duff Gordon was the most famous dress designer of the time. European royalty, high society, stage and screen stars were her clientele. She had high fashion salons in London, Paris, New York, and Chicago. During her career she developed the runway-style fashion show and was the first to make models famous. She was also the first to market a branded perfume. Lucy was onboard with her husband, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon, who did not survive.
March is also “Celebrate Irish Month” at Titanic. There were 159 Irish passengers and crew on board, outnumbering all other nationalities. And the ship was built in Belfast, (Northern) Ireland. Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson has more than 400 artifacts exquisitely displayed in more than 20 unique galleries. One such gallery is devoted to the eight musicians onboard Titanic. The band was actually two groups, a trio and a quintet. They had never played together until the night the ship was sinking. (Did any survive?) There are also recreations of a first class cabin (Occupied by Colonel John Jacob Astor IV and his young wife, Madeleine) and a third class cabin, a lifeboat, an interactive gallery … Titanic Branson is an extraordinary experience for everyone.
Don’t miss this outstanding exhibit of RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic Lifejackets, now through June 15, 2019 at Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson.