One thing Margaret “Molly” Brown won’t do is be forgotten. You can help keep her spirit alive by volunteering at the famed Molly Brown House Museum.
Local nonprofit Historic Denver, which was founded in 1970 with the express purpose of saving the Molly Brown House Museum from demolition, is seeking volunteers to educate visitors on Brown’s family history and help with various programs. On February 23, those interested in getting involved can attend a special volunteer training session to learn more about the specific roles and how to apply. “Our volunteers are the life-blood of our museum,” says Kim Popetz, volunteer and event coordinator at the Molly Brown House Museum. “It’s not that big of a house, but people love it.”
The training course includes a tour of the museum, background information on its original artifacts, discussions with current volunteers on Brown family history, and museum basics, like hours and special events. “The museum’s primary mission is to broaden the public’s understanding of Molly Brown and the social, economic, and political aspects of Victorian life in Denver,” Popetz says. Future volunteers should read up on the five different volunteer positions and be ready to bring their Victorian history A-game.
Upon completion of the training, volunteer docents will give museum tours on a daily basis, as well as greet visitors and answer questions—from where to park to what year Molly Brown ran for Colorado office (fun fact: she actually ran three times). Volunteers are also encouraged to dress up in classic Victorian style—think double-breasted vests, petticoats, and touring hats—to keep the atmosphere authentic. Can’t make the training session? You can always apply online, and be interviewed by phone, as well.
Molly Brown is most famous for surviving the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, but she was also a socialite and philanthropist who made her mark in Denver by building local parks, working to create camps for kids in the legal system, and raising money to build a wing of St. Joseph’s Hospital. Historic Denver estimates that more than 60,000 visitors step into the Molly Brown House Museum—a Victorian-era home in Capital Hill also known as the House of Lions—each year, not including its special events, like the Naughty Victorian Valentine’s or First Class Titanic Tea.
For docents-to-be, here are some facts about Molly Brown to get you started:
- Molly Brown was born Margaret Tobin on July 18, 1867. (Fact: her birthday and birth-year are wrong on her headstone, which is located in Cemetery of the Holy Rood in New York)
- She is best known for surviving the RMS Titanic, but what most people don’t know is she was “unsinkable” three times in her life. First, in 1903, while Molly Brown and her husband were traveling to Asia, the ship battered against a typhoon and took on water. Second, in 1912, Molly Brown not only survived the sinking of the Titanic but also helped save other passengers. She raised over $10,000 for Titanic passengers before the RMS Carpathia—the ship that retrieved Titanic Survivors— even docked in New York on April 18. And third, in 1920, Brown planned to travel to the summer Olympics aboard the SS Quinnesco, which caught fire. The fire was controlled by crew and Brown returned to port.
- Brown was a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs—a women’s suffrage organization—in 1894, ran for the Colorado Senate in 1901, and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1914.
- In 1932, just a few months before her death, Brown was awarded the French Legion of Honor for driving Red Cross ambulances across front lines in France during WWI.
- Margaret Tobin Brown never went by her well-known nickname “Molly” during her lifetime. Instead, she went by Maggie.
If You Go: The volunteer training takes place on Saturday, February 23 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania St.