Held at: Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library [Contact Us]Penn's Landing on the Delaware River, 211 South Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Thayers were a prominent Philadelphia-area family at the turn of the 20th century. John Borland Thayer, born April 21, 1862, was the Second Vice-President of the Pennsylvania Railroad. He and his wife, Marian Longstreth Morris Thayer, lived in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and were the parents of Margaret, Pauline, Frederick and John, Jr.
The Thayers’ were traveling home to Haverford from Berlin as first class passengers on the Titanic. John Borland Thayer did not seek a lifeboat and died on April 15, 1912 at the age of 49. His wife, Marian Longstreth Morris Thayer (1872-1944), and their maid, Miss Margaret Fleming, boarded a lifeboat and survived the sinking. John Borland Thayer, Jr. (1894-1945), the son of John and Marian Thayer, was seventeen in 1912. He did not board a lifeboat and jumped from the sinking Titanic. He climbed on an overturned inflatable lifeboat and was eventually picked up by another lifeboat. He and his mother were reunited aboard the Carpathia.
John Borland Thayer, Jr. graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to the university to serve as the Financial Vice-President and Treasurer. He married Lois Cassatt and was the father of two sons, Edward C. and John B. Thayer, IV. His mother never remarried.
The sinking of the Titanic was not forgotten: he wrote about his experiences in The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic, April 14-15, 1912. John Borland Thayer, Jr. committed suicide in 1945, following the death of his mother in 1944 and the death of his son Edward who was serving in World War II.
For further information about the Thayer family and their experiences aboard the Titanic, see The Sinking of the S. S. Titanic by John B. Thayer [III] and A Night to Remember by Walter Lord.
The Thayer family collection consists of more than 700 items of ocean liner ephemera dating from 1892 to 1986, including postcards, abstracts of logs, advertisements, passenger lists, menus, deck plans, photographs, stationery and baggage tags from ships of more than 40 lines, such as Cunard, White Star, Norddeutscher Lloyd, Red Star, Hamburg-Amerika, United States, and Compagnie Generale Transatlantique (French Line). The collection also includes one of the only extant first class passenger lists from Titanic and other materials related to the Thayer family’s experience on the ship’s only voyage.
Donated by Mrs. John B. Thayer IV.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Compagnie générale transatlantique.
- Cunard Line, ltd.
- Hamburg-American Line.
- Norddeutscher Lloyd.
- Red Star Line.
- Titanic (Steamship).
- United States Lines Company.
- White Star Line.
- Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Megan Hahn Fraser
- Finding Aid Date
- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
The Titanic passenger list and other items deemed fragile are restricted. Surrogates will be provided for researchers’ use.
Copyright restrictions may apply. Please contact the Archives with requests for copying and for authorization to publish, quote or reproduce the material.