Visualizing the tragedy of the titanic

Lab Reports, Timelines, Visualization


The sinking of the RMS Titanic on the 14th of April in 1912 is one of the most talked-about shipwrecks in maritime history. When the Titanic collided with an iceberg, eventually sinking the ship in a matter of a day, it killed 1502 out its 2224 passengers and crew members. Since then, the tragic event has inspired many storied renditions, such as books, movies, shows and documentaries, of the disaster and the experiences of the people aboard the ship on that fateful day. The tragedy of the Titanic also left behind a plethora of data, consisting of personal details of all the passengers and crew members. This timeline was created to highlight different data visualizations inspired by the sinking of the Titanic over the past century.


To create my visualization, I used TimelineJS, a free open-source tool that allows users to build interactive timelines with images, videos and text. The tool provides you with a Google spreadsheet template to create your timeline. It also enables you to pull media from many sources, such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia and more.

I used Friendly, Symanzik and Onders’ 100+ Years of Graphs of the Titanic Data as a source for my dataset. I also gathered part of my data from ESRI and Martin Theus’ Interactive Data Visualization Using Mondrian.


I chose to include different data visualizations, from bar charts and mosaic plots to maps and infographics, of the Titanic data to illustrate the numerous ways designers have told the story. I tried to get a range of different years these visualizations were created. Thus, the timeline spans from 1912 to 2018. However, as I was doing research on the topic, I found little to no resources of data visualizations made between 1920 and 1980.

Before entering data into the Google spreadsheet template, I published the spreadsheet and copied/pasted the link on TimelineJS to generate my timeline. From doing this, I was able to continuously preview any changes I make to the timeline in real time. Then, I started inputting the data from my resources into the spreadsheet, adding text and images. 

Google Spreadsheet of the timeline


Link to my timeline: Visualizing the Tragedy of the Titanic


I would have liked to have done a more comprehensive timeline of the history of data visualizations of the Titanic by including visualizations in each decade since the event. That would have required extensive research and gathering of data. Because of that, I would’ve needed more time to do the proper research in order to gather more data visualizations created between 1920 and 1980, if there are any. In the future, I think it is important to keep in mind how much time researching and sifting through datasets take and to plan accordingly.