Outgoing and handsome George Harder, 25, had worked his way up the ladder in New York and was said to have everything going for him. When he met 21-year-old Dorothy Annan at a Brooklyn social event, George was captivated by her beauty and was determined to make her his bride.
Dorothy Annan Harder
George Harder (1927 passport photo)
Dorothy accepted his proposal, and they were married in her cousin’s home. They set sail for a three-month European honeymoon the next day, and Dorothy was thrilled when George booked their passage home on the famous Titanic. They were not nearly as wealthy as many of the other first class passengers, so their cabin was located on Deck E, two and three levels below the most exclusive suites on Deck C and B. But they enjoyed all the first class amenities and privileges, and soon met other honeymoon couples, including the Bishops, the Dicks, and the Astors.
On the night of April 14, George and Dorothy were in bed when they felt a dull thump. George immediately checked the porthole and saw an iceberg “50 to 100 feet tall.” The couple then heard a scraping sound along Titanic’s hull. They wasted no time in getting dressed and hurrying upstairs to the boat deck.
No one on the boat deck seemed overly alarmed. Most believed the ship was unsinkable and would be on its way shortly. However, George had felt the collision, unlike many of those whose cabins were higher on the ship. Now, as he walked the deck, he noticed a list. When the announcement came to board the lifeboats, George and Dorothy raced down to their cabin and grabbed their lifebelts, her fur coat, his heavy overcoat, a bottle of brandy, and the button hook Dorothy used to button her shoes.
They ran up the five flights of stairs, not wanting to risk getting stuck in the elevator. They were led to Lifeboat 5 and Dorothy was helped aboard. According to George, the men were asked to wait while any available women boarded the boat, and when no more women were in sight, the men were allowed to board. Much to Dorothy’s relief, George then boarded the lifeboat and sat beside her. During the frigid night as they awaited rescue, they passed around their bottle of brandy to anyone in need.
Aboard the Carpathia, the Harders spent their time comforting passengers who had lost loved ones in the sinking. Below is a well-known photograph of George and Dorothy, talking with a passenger whose husband was among the missing.
Before the Carpathia reached New York, the couple helped take up a collection to honor Captain Rostron and the crew of the Carpathia for their heroic rescue efforts, and came to the presentation ceremony weeks later. George Harder also testified at the Senate inquiry into the disaster. Like other male survivors, he faced ridicule for having taken a seat in a lifeboat that might have gone to a woman. He insisted no other women were present when he was allowed to board, and he never knew there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers.
Dorothy died at the age of 36 of chronic kidney problems. George remarried and died in 1959. Their family still has Dorothy’s button hook she kept from her honeymoon voyage on the Titanic.