Why were so many lives lost?

RMS Titanic lifeboat No.6 approaches rescue ship Carpathia (COPY 1/566)
RMS Titanic lifeboat No.6 approaches rescue ship Carpathia (COPY 1/566)

Drawing on information and testimony submitted to the British government inquiry into the sinking of Titanic, students will investigate why so many passengers and crew lost their lives in the early hours of 15 April 1912.

Students will begin by examining a statement of claim submitted against White Star Line to identify different causes of loss of life aboard the Titanic. They will then annotate and share ideas concerning a range of documents, including emergency telegrams sent from the sinking ship, photographs from the Californian and testimonies of surviving passengers. Through close analysis of these documents held at The National Archives, students will link causes, reaching a conclusion about which factors were most significant.

At the end of the session, students will reflect on the skills that they have developed and see original files relating to the investigation, as well as having the opportunity to discuss the collection with the Education Officer.


"I was thrilled that the students got so much out of it... They were actively participating and this helped them engage and learn far more than just reading for themselves." Entry Level 3 teacher.

Session options

This session can be delivered as a

  • Videoconference
  • Virtual classroom

All activities must be booked in advance.

Tel: +44 (0)20 8392 5365

Fax: +44 (0)20 8487 9202

Availability: All year

Cost: Free

Duration: 1 hour

Age: Year 7-9

Download the resource pack for this session as a PDF (9.33Mb)