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The Forgotten Faces of the Titanic

When the tragic tale of Titanic is told, most tend to focus on the events of the sinking or its most famous passengers, such as John Jacob Astor and Lucille and Cosmo Duff-Gordon. But among the thousands who sailed on that fateful voyage, there are dozens of passenger stories that are often overlooked. Passengers came from all over the world, including Mexico, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Haiti. Joseph Laroche and his family were among the 2,205 people aboard RMS Titanic.

Image courtesy of The Mariners’ Museum and Park

At the age of 15 years, Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche left his home country of Haiti and travelled to France. While there, he met and fell in love with Juliette Lafargue and earned a degree in engineering. They later married and their daughters, Simone and Louise, were born within a two-year span. With mounting medical bills for Louise and the inability to find a job due to the racial discrimination that prevailed at the time, Joseph decided to move his family back to Haiti within a year. However, they discovered that Juliette was pregnant with their third child so they decided to leave early before she was too far along to travel. Joseph and his family originally had tickets aboard La France but later transferred to second class tickets aboard Titanic, due to a strict policy regarding children. So the Laroche family took the train from Paris to Cherbourg to board the ship that some called “practically unsinkable.”

Image: Joseph Laroche with wife, Juliette, and daughters, Simone and Louise, ca.1910.
Courtesy of

Sadly on the night of April 15, 1912, Joseph Laroche was one of the many passengers who did not survive the sinking of RMS Titanic. Juliette and her daughters were rescued by the ship Carpathia and transported to New York City. The family later returned home to France where Juliette gave birth to a son, which she named Joseph, after his father.

The passenger liner Titanic sank 108 years ago. Compelling passenger stories such as this prove that its legacy will continue for generations to come.

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