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A Rare Titanic Family: How the Caldwells Survived the Sinking and Traveled the World

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  160 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Of the families that boarded the "unsinkable" Titanic in 1912, only a fourth stayed together during the sinking and arrived safely in New York. Albert and Sylvia Caldwell and their 10-month-old son, Alden, were one of those rare Titanic families. Author Julie Williams draws on first-person accounts from her great-Uncle Albert and extensive research to tell the fascinating ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published March 26th 2012 by NewSouth Books (first published December 1st 2011)
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Nicola Mansfield
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: I've always been intrigued with the Titanic and I am participating in a Titanic Reading Challenge this year.

This is a fascinating story that read like a novel for me. My first time sitting down with the book I almost read halfway through. I've always enjoyed missionary stories and I found the first part of the book on Sylvia and Albert's early life and time spent in Siam just as interesting as the rest of the book which focuses on the Titanic sinking and the effect it had on
Oct 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
When one considers the victims and survivors of the Titanic disaster, one usually has the image of families ripped apart, some dying and some surviving. It's a rare thing (no pun intended) to hear of a family managing to survive the sinking intact.

This book is clearly a labor of love, and it shows in the writing. The author clearly loved her uncle, and it shows in every word that she writes about him. She was also great in exploring the lives of Albert Caldwell's family, letting us know their ac
Christina B.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like reading about Titanic survivors
Recommended to Christina by: my social studies teacher
"A Rare Titanic Family: How the Caldwells Survived the Sinking and Traveled the World," by Julie Hedgepeth Williams, was a rather disappointing read. This book was about the Caldwell family's life before, during, and after the Titanic.
While some parts of this book were mildly interesting, the majority of it was not. The book started out by talking about Sylvia and Albert's (the main characters) early life and how they met in college. They got married and moved to Siam, where they became missiona
Tasha Dunagan
Mar 31, 2015 rated it really liked it

This is the true story of Albert and Sylvia Caldwell and their infant son, Alden, as told by Albert's great-niece, including all the events leading up to and following their trip on the Titanic. Williams has very thoroughly researched the lives of the Caldwells, which is impressive and interesting, at least from a historic point of view. To me, the prior and post-events - such as their education and second marriages following their divorce - made the book a bit slow, but I admire Williams' dedic

Jan 16, 2013 rated it did not like it
"A Rare Titanic Family: how the Caldwells Survived the Sinking and Traveled the World," by Julie Hedgepeth Williams was a pretty average novel. I did not enjoy reading it very much. I just wish that the author found a way to make the story a little exciting. I know the story is nonfiction and really happened but a novel needs a little excitement in order to be interesting. That is I didn't enjoy it and neither did some of the other people that read this book. I really don't understand how the Ca ...more
Davina Bell
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Wonderfully written!!!!!! I truly applaud Mrs. Williams for her due dillengence and awesone research abilities!!!! I learned so much from this novel. I would like to see this version of the Titanic story made into a movie. While reading it, I pictured the Titanic disaster as being just as horrible as the 9/11 attacks. Her discriptions of the sinking was heart-wrenching. The truthfulness behind the story is truly appreciated. After reading this novel, the James Cameron's version of the events are ...more
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found this book very interesting. It told the story of the Caldwells,a young missionary couple stationed in Siam, theier lives there and thier return to the USA on the Titanic. It tells what happens during the shipwreck but then goes on to follow thier lives until thier death. The book tells you what the ramifications of being a survivor and how it impacted the rest of thier lives.

Kurt Bali
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In the last one hundred years of American history, few events have captured the imagination like the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic April 14, 1912. The tragedy of the maiden voyage of the biggest ship in the world at that time holds many diverse story lines, from heroism on a grand scale to cowardice that makes one’s stomach turn. The fate of the ship and those aboard it, whether they survived or perished, are forever etched in our consciousness.

While movies such as the record-setting Titan
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was good from a genealogist perspective. However, I was hoping for more...
The author did a good job in the introduction setting up the story and her relationship to Albert; as well as the "epilogue" portion. There were necessarily long chapters and not long enough on others.

There was more information on their younger years, how they met, later divorced and life after remarriage. There isn't a lot of detail or emotion played out on their experience on the Titanic nor the Carpathea after they
Rosemary Miller
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well written story about author's relatives especially Uncle Albert who told her stories about his ordeal and rescue from the Titanic lifeboats. She painstaking researched the family story. She was able to prove some parts of the story and disprove other parts of the story. This book is a valuable addition to the Titanic catalogue of books about the disaster.
Angela Blood
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Pretty good read but lots of speculation.
Homewood Public Library
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
When Albert and Sylvia Caldwell decided to leave their mission work in
Siam and return to the United States, they never dreamed that they were in
for the journey of their lives. How could they ever imagine that the ship
they would be traveling on, the Titanic would forever be known as one of
the greatest disasters ever? Traveling with their 10-month-old son Alden,
the Caldwells set out on the voyage that would not only change their
lives, but history.
In A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of S
Aaliyah P
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book A Rare Titanic Family by Julie Williams, who is the great-niece of Albert Caldwell, wrote this book so that it was hard for the readers to put down. She wrote excellently about her distant relative. Albert and Sylvia were a missionary couple who went to Siam for work. They traveled the world including Italy and other parts of Europe with their son Alden. When they wanted to go back to their homeland, America they decided to take the luxurious Titanic as second class passengers and thei ...more
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
When Albert and Sylvia Caldwell decided to leave their mission work in
Siam and return to the United States, they never dreamed that they were in
for the journey of their lives. How could they ever imagine that the ship
they would be traveling on, the Titanic would forever be known as one of
the greatest disasters ever? Traveling with their 10-month-old son Alden,
the Caldwells set out on the voyage that would not only change their
lives, but history.
In A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of
Sandra Stiles
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
April 12, 2012 will mark 100 years since the Titanic sank. Julie Williams is the great-niece of Albert Caldwell. Albert and his first wife Sylvia went to college together, accepted a mission to Siam and then married. The day they married they left for their new life. Sylvia was not recommended to go because of possible future health issues. She went anyway. The weather was very agreeable with Albert. A combination of the tropical weather and pregnancy made Sylvia very sick. After Alden was born ...more
Jan 16, 2013 added it
The book, A Rare Titanic Family, was mildly entertaining to me. It focused on the lives of Albert and Sylvia Caldwell and their experiences. At first it was very slow while explaining the details of their early lives and what they did in those years. Later it tells about their slightly interesting lives of being missionaries living in Siam. But because of a serious problem, the couple is forced to attempt to return to America by many different ways of travel. The Board, (the group incharge of th ...more
Erik Ronningen
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For Titanic aficionados, just when you thought you had it all, along comes author Julie Hedgepeth Williams with the very personal story of her uncle and his family. Timing is everything, they say, and the Titanic sailing for America was perfect timing for Albert Caldwell, his wife, Silvia, and their ten-month son, Alden.

Thoroughly researched to provide a good picture of the Caldwell’s lives before, and after that fateful night of April 14/15, 1912, an additional piece of the puzzle is added to
Kayla O
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I read the book A Rare Titanic Family by Julie Williams. The book was about the narrator figuring out the story of the Caldwells (Albert, Alden, and Sylvia) exciting tour of the world and their ride home on the Titanic. It told the whole history of this religious family and their life after the tragedy. There a couple of reasons why i did not enjoy this book. One was because it was kinda slow, the writing was very exciting. Another reason is because it was written in the perspective of the autho ...more
Philip T
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Rare Titanic Family, by Julia Hedgepeth Williams, gave a great account of a family who managed to survive the sinking of the Titanic.The book included many primary sources, such as pictures, article excerpts, and first-hand accounts from interviews of the Caldwells. All of them, especially the pictures, help to clarify most of the information. The pictures also help to create a larger understanding of the time period and the characters.
The last book that I read, The Last Gunfight, by Jeff Guin
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book makes one feel as if they are actually on-board the Titanic with Albert, Sylvia and their son Alden. I could visualize the food the Caldwell’s ate as they dined amongst the ship like royalty. You can feel the fear as the story is told about what happens when the Titanic hits the iceberg and what ensues. Williams does a great job with giving a lot of historical context; she even delves into what happens to the Caldwell’s after the Titanic. I won’t spoil this for you though.

If you are a h
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
The book, " A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells Story of Survival", was not a very good read. When first looking at the book I thought it was going to be more about the Titanic, and how they survived the tragedy. Instead, the book was more about the Caldwell's life before and after the Titanic rather then when it occurs. Only a small portion of the book was about them on the Titanic. Most of it was about how Albert and Sylvia (the main characters) met in college and lived their life together un ...more
Ally A
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Rare Titanic Family, by Julie Hedgepeth Williams, I thought was very slow and boring in the beginning of the book. But once I started getting into the story and all the action started happening, it became very interesting. Once the story got involved with the Titanic sinking and how the Caldwell's ended up surviving, the story was even more intriguing. I liked how the point of view was from the Caldwell family and that even though they survived the tragedy, they tried to continue their lives t ...more
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
A fascinating read for anyone interested in the Titanic disaster. This book maps the path of a young couple, Albert and Sylvia Caldwell, who went to Siam as missionaries, fled the country with their new infant for home in the U.S., happened to get tickets on the Titanic for their return voyage across the Atlantic, and then miraculously survived the sinking as a family unit - something that was very rare among the survivors.
Julie Hedgepeth Williams is a Journalism professor and obviously did moun
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
Biographical story about a young missionary couple, Albert and Sylvia Caldwell. The Caldwell's were from the Midwest and sailed to Bangkok to serve as missionaries. Due to Sylvia's illness the Caldwells decided to return to the United States

The Caldwells and their young son Albert boared the Titanic, the books recounts how the survived the sinking of the mighty ship.
The rest of the story is about the family and the trials and tribulations they went through once returning to the United States.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
The title is a little misleading creating an assumption that the book is mainly about the Caldwells' experiences aboard the Titanic. It is actually about the Caldwells' history from birth to death with the brief middle about their experience abord the Titanic. The family history is interesting but not what I was hoping for.
Michele Bond
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting addition to my reading list of books about the Titanic. It was different in that it traced this family from their early lives through to their deaths, with their adventure aboard the Titanic comprising only the middle section of the book. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who wants a closer glimpse of one family's rescue from the ship.
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book gives us a wonderful look into the lives of a young couple caught on the Titanic. Written by A family member, it gives a balanced account of the Caldwells from cradle to grave. It also shows how the sinking affected many generations of the family not just those involved in the sinking. A good read for any Titanic lover.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Since I have always been obsessed with The Titanic, I couldn't not like this book. I felt that the back story was a little long and I wish the author had spent more time on The Titanic experience. That being said, it was still a decent book and now I am looking for more personal accounts to read!
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 for this story as I was a bit disappointed since it deals mostly with the family before and after the Titanic. The Titanic is only a small portion of the book. I understand it was the author's intent; it just wasn't what I was expecting.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Never had heard that story before and the origin of "God Himself could not sink this ship." Very interesting and informative!
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Madison Mega-Mara...: A Rare Titanic Family 1 3 Apr 05, 2012 11:36AM  
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