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Sources for business history

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

'Titanic' letter, 1912

The collections of The Rothschild Archive London contain over two million pieces of paper, volumes, files, photographs, artefacts and art works. Archivist's Choice is a series a short articles each highlighting a treasure from the Archive collection, or celebrating an anniversary or special event. Browse through our library of Archivist's Choice articles to discover some of the fascinating stories behind our collections.

In April 1912, the RMS 'Titanic' foundered in an icy North Atlantic sea, with great loss of life. 

The White Star Line passenger liner RMS 'Titanic' sank in the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg. The largest ship afloat at the time she entered service, she carried 2,224 passengers and crew. More than 1,500 people perished in one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

In 1911, the Rothschild controlled firm, Alliance Assurance Company had refused to insure the 'Titanic', Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) claiming it was "too big to float".

The Sundry Private Correspondence series in the collections of The Rothschild Archive contain copies of letters sent from Nathaniel to his French cousins. These letters are an important source for an understanding of Rothschilds' business in the nineteenth century, and they make reference to world events of the day. On the 16th April 1912, Nathaniel wrote to his cousins of the impact of the Titanic tragedy, noting first the terrible events of that fateful night, the reaction to them and the effects on the markets.

New Court
16 April 1912

My dear Cousins

We had the pleasure of receiving your kind letter my dear James and are much obliged to you for everything you say we wrote to you yesterday and gave you all the information which has been received up to that time about the Titanic. We were much horrified in finding in the morning’s papers that the supposed good news which has been received here was completely misleading and that this great vessel with a large number of human beings on board had foundered in the middle of the night.

A very sad story and one more proof if it was wanted how natural forces baffle human ingenuity. Everyone's sympathy and commiseration goes out to all those who have lost relatives, friends and supporters'. Untold admiration must go forth to the men who stood gallantly by the ship to the last and whom placed the women and children into the life boats. The extent of the loss which falls on the insurance world is at present unknown, but it must be something very large and I suppose as usual some of the companies will have to sell some of their securities. In the Stock Exchange the markets are not particularly brilliant at the present.

Improved New York prices and a better feeling here in the course of the afternoon but so many members of the Stock Exchange and so many business [sic] in the City have friends and relatives on board the Titanic that one can hardly expect very much business today. No doubt you read the speeches in the House of Commons last night, Arthur Balfour spoke in his very best form and so I believe did Lord Hugh Cecil...

...Pray excuse these few lines and with best remembrances I remain,

Yours affectionately,

RAL reference: RAL XI/130/6A/73_1  

The White Star liner RMS Titanic

The White Star liner RMS Titanic

Nathaniel ('Natty') 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915)

Nathaniel ('Natty') 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915)