Epic Voyage: The Extraordinary Life of Titanic Survivor Helen Churchill Candee
Exhibition curated by Stacey Danielson
Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 children 8-18
Student tours: $3 per student. Reservations required
The exhibition will focus on the life and times of one of the survivors of the RMS Titanic, Helen Churchill Candee, mother of Edith Mathews, whose husband was one of the owners of the Mansion at the turn of the century. Photos, books, articles, letters, costumes and artifacts, many of which have never have been publicly exhibited, will interpret the history, customs and fashions of American life in the early part of the 20th century, allowing visitors to capture a glimpse of the Edwardian era.
The exhibit will feature personal belongings of Helen Churchill Candee, including her writing case, letters, unpublished manuscripts, first editions of her books, and photographs on loan from her great-granddaughter, Rosemary Gillham. Additional material includes artifacts from the LMMM collection and loans from the Darien Historical Society and the private collection of Paul and Hadley Veeder.
Ms. Candee grew up in New York and Connecticut and attended school in Norwalk and New Haven. She was a women’s rights advocate, an author and a journalist. She published her first book, How Women May Earn a Living in 1900 and wrote for many publications including National Geographic, Atlantic Monthly and the Ladies’ Home Journal. She eventually moved from New York to Washington, where she became a renowned interior decorator, one of the first in the U.S., working for President Theodore Roosevelt, among others. She was involved in Democratic politics and served on many civic boards. She had a very active social life, was a trustee of the Corcoran Gallery and a friend of First Lady Helen Taft.
Helen Candee was in Europe in the spring of 1912, when her son Harold was in an accident in the United States. She took the fastest way back, the RMS Titanic, on its fateful inaugural voyage to New York City. The largest passenger steamship in the world hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912, and sank, resulting in the death of 1,517 people. Ms. Candee fractured her ankle as she boarded Lifeboat 6, the same lifeboat as ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown. She was one of the last women off, one of the 706 who were rescued. After her rescue, she recuperated at Elm Park (now the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum), where she received a number of letters and congratulations from people like Mrs.Taft. She gave a short interview to the Washington Herald and subsequently wrote a detailed article for Collier’s Weekly, which included her description of life on board the ship and sneaking up to the bow. The following year she was one of the leading riders in the ‘Votes for Women’ parade on Pennsylvania Avenue.
She was a nurse in Italy under the auspices of the Red Cross during World War I, and she continued to write books and articles, and travel to Japan, China, Indonesia and Cambodia. Her greatest work, Angkor the Magnificent, is considered the first major English language study on that Khmer temple, and led her to a subsequent career as a lecturer.
This year, the LMMM Student Program will introduce young visitors to the Mansion’s history, architecture and collections as well as the opening exhibit, Epic Voyage: The Extraordinary Life of Titanic Survivor Helen Churchill Candee. Portions of Mystic Aquarium’s new exhibit, “Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below,” along with captivating video of Dr. Ballard’s discovery of the doomed ocean liner, will also be on display. Students will experience Mystic’s Immersion Learning's Return to Titanic program, which includes hands-on activities and games that engage youth in science, technology and exploration. At the Mystic Aquarium, students will join Dr. Robert Ballard and a team of scientists as they determine how much the ship has deteriorated since its initial discovery in 1985. Science topics covered include scale drawings, buoyancy, model-building, weathering, photo mosaics, remotely operated vehicles, latitude and longitude, coordinate grids, communication technology, radio waves, conservation and careers. To view Mystic Aquarium’s major new exhibit, “Titanic – 12,450 Feet Below,” and its student program in its entirety please contact www.mysticaquarium.org
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