Titanic, a True Story

For a moment in 8th grade, I was really, really cool. Why? Because we had to do family history reports the month after Titanic came out and my great great aunt was on the ship when it sank.

1912 Titanic book, Jack and Rose aren't mentioned...

I don't know if you recall, but 8th grade is still sort of a time period where some people have a hard time discerning between real and make-believe. I'm pretty convinced that some girls in my class believed that somehow my great great aunt knew Leonardo DiCaprio and that he, or his character Jack rather, was actually on the ship with her.

Anna Sjoblom, my great grandmother's sister, was coming over from Finland to join her dad who had already immigrated to the US. Anna's 18th birthday was April 14, 1912, the day the boat hit the iceberg! Anna didn't speak English, so there was a lot of confusion for her, thankfully one of her travel companions was able to help her understand what was happening. The third class cabins were actually gated off from the rest of the ship. That was normal for all ocean liners of the day,as third class passengers had to go through health inspections at Ellis Island and other passengers did not. It is speculated that they were kept locked when the boat hit the iceberg since the crew knew there wouldn't be enough lifeboats for everyone. You see this in the movie as Jack and Rose are trying to make it to the deck. Anna and her friends actually had a similar experience and had to really scramble to get up there. They broke a window climbed up a deck, running through the second and first class accommodations. When they reached the main deck it was so chaotic that Anna was separated from her friends. Thankfully, a crew member grabbed her and  shoved her into a lifeboat.  When it was being lowered down, a man wearing a dress jumped off of the sinking ship, landing on top of her in the lifeboat. Most of the lifeboats were only taking women and children so he attempted a disguise to escape. For the rest of her life she suffered back problems, but she was lucky to have survived. Of the four people she started the journey with in Finland, she was the only one to make it to New York.

Oddly enough, another survivor that Anna traveled west with after arriving in New York on the Carpathia, survived the wreck like Rose in the movie. He spent 6 hours floating on a door before being rescued.

Tomorrow, April 14th, is the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic hitting the iceberg (technically it sank in the early hours of April 15th) and would have been Anna's 118th Birthday.

Anna died in 1975, so I never got to meet her. Even before the movie came out, I had been interested in her story and loved hearing about her from my grandma. It seems Anna didn't talk about her experience very often but passing through first class to get to the lifeboats had definitely made an impression on her and my grandma recalled Anna bringing that up occasionally. Even as the ship was sinking, she had been amazed by the grandeur of it all.

Picture above is Anna and my great grandmother in 1917.


  1. Wow... super interesting. I think I might have to go watch the 3D version now.

  2. I need to find someone who wants to go see it with me in the theater again. I don't think I could ever convince my hubby :) P.S. Did you see the Titanic exhibit a while back (like a few years back) when it was at the Pacific Science Center? It was really interesting.

    1. I didn't get a chance to see it! I wish I did...

  3. yay! i love this! I am gonna share it with people!

  4. It's so weird that in that moment of panic, she still absorbed that awe of the first class regions. It's amazing the things your mind holds onto.
    Great story; thanks for sharing!