Harry Elkins Widener
Harry E. Widener.jpg
Harry Elkins Widener
Born January 3, 1885(1885-01-03)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died April 15, 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 27)
Atlantic Ocean (RMS Titanic)
Nationality American
Occupation businessman and book collector
Known for Member of wealthy Widener family
Signature Harry E. Widener signature.png

Harry Elkins Widener (January 3, 1885 – April 15, 1912) was an American businessman and bibliophile, a member of the Widener family. Harvard University's Widener Memorial Library was built by his mother, in his memory, after his death on the foundering of the RMS Titanic.



Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1915), Horace Trumbauer, architect.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Widener was the son of George Dunton Widener (1861–1912) and Eleanor Elkins Widener, and the grandson of entrepreneur Peter A. B. Widener (1834–1915). He attended The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and was a 1907 graduate of Harvard College, where he was a member of the Owl Club.

Hew bookplate

Widener's 1908 bookplate.[1]

Along with his father and mother, in April 1912 Widener boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France bound for New York City. As the ship sank Widener's mother and her maid were rescued, but Widener and his father perished. His mother built the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library in his memory; at Hill School two buildings are dedicated to Widener, and at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, stained-glass windows are dedicated to Widener and his father.

Harvard campus myths hold that Harvard undergraduates were for a time required pass a swim test because Widener's mother made such a requirement a stipulation of her gift of the library, or that ice cream is available at Harvard meals because it had been a favorite of Widener's.[2]

External linksEdit



  1. Houghton Library, Harvard University, HEW 2.2.15
  2. article on Widener urban legends.

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