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New England Insurance Companies Records

New England Insurance Companies Records

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Open Finding Aid

NEW ENGLAND INSURANCE COMPANIES RECORDS, 1776-1906

Sponsor:

Processing of this collection was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.





Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:
Title:New England Insurance Companies Records
Dates:1776/1906
Quantity:4.5 linear feet (1 box, 27 volumes)
Abstract:The records of the New England Insurance Companies consist of records generated by insurance companies in Andover, Beverly, Georgetown, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, and South Danvers.
Collection Number:MSS 141

Series List


SERIES I. Essex County Insurance Companies Records
SERIES II. Non-Essex County Insurance Companies Records

Scope and Content Note

The records of the New England Insurance Companies consist of records generated by insurance companies in Andover, Beverly, Georgetown, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Newburyport, and South Danvers. In addition, the collection contains records produced by non-Essex County, Massachusetts, insurance companies. The records have been divided into two series.


Series I. Essex County Insurance Companies Records, which are arranged alphabetically by town, are the registers of the Essex County Health Insurance Company (Beverly) which provide a breakdown of occupation of the registered policy holders. Also of note are the policies of the Agawam Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Ipswich) which include prices and inventories of homes and furnishings.


Series II. Non-Essex County Insurance Companies Records, contain miscellaneous New England insurance companies, including the Roxbury Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the Mutual Life Insurance Company of Stamford, Connecticut, the North American Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, the Providence Washington Insurance Company of Boston, and the American Fidelity Company of Montpelier, Vermont. Two policies (B1 F5) provide insurance for the Essex Institute.


Historical Sketch

The first insurance company in the United States underwrote fire insurance and was formed in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1735. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin helped form a mutual insurance company called the Philadelphia Contributionship, which is the nation's oldest insurance carrier still in operation. Franklin's company was the first to make contributions toward fire prevention. Not only did his company warn against certain fire hazards, it refused to insure certain buildings where the risk of fire was too great, such as all wooden houses. Franklin was also instrumental in getting the first life insurance company, the Presbyterian Ministers' Fund, off the ground.


The various religious authorities at the time were outraged at the practice of putting a value on human life, but criticism cooled when it was seen that insurance worked to protect widows and orphans. The industrial revolution then brought the necessity of both business insurance and disability insurance to the forefront. Throughout history, the types of insurance offered have been expanded in reaction to new risks. 1864 saw the Travelers Insurance Company sell its first accident policy. 1889 saw the first auto insurance policy.


Incorporated in 1828, the Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company was the founding company of The Andover Companies. Policies were sold in Massachusetts, in the towns of Andover, Newbury, Beverly, Methuen, Newburyport, and other surrounding communities. Today, Merrimack Mutual represents over half of the asset base of The Andover Companies.


Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Balch, John
Agawam Mutual Fire Insurance Co. (Ipswich, Mass.)
Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company
Beverly Insurance Co. (Beverly, Mass.)
Essex County Health Insurance Co. (Beverly, Mass.)
Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Georgetown, Mass.)
Gloucester Marine Insurance Co. (Gloucester, Mass.)
Lynn Mutual Fire Insurance Co.
Merrimack Insurance Co. (Newburyport, Mass.)
Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company (Andover, Mass.)
South Danvers Mutual Fire Insurance Co.
Fire insurance
Health insurance
Independent insurance agents
Marine insurance

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

New England Insurance Companies Records, MSS 141, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

The records of New England Insurance Companies are a reorganization and integration of 29 volumes and miscellaneous folders of manuscripts. The bulk of the collection is from an unknown source. Donations and deposits include the following: the Merrimack Mutual Fire Insurance Company scrapbooks and a miscellaneous Marblehead ledger were deposited by the Marblehead Historical Society in 1915; Newburyport's Merrimack Insurance Company records, Merrimack Marine & Fire Insurance Company records, and the policies of John Balch's office were donated by the Newburyport Public Library in 1916. The records of the Marblehead Marine Insurance Company, originally found in this collection, and then subsequently in MSS 140, were returned to the Marblehead Historical Society in 2004.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, July 1984. Updated by Catherine Robertson, June 2015.


Related Material

Beattie, Andrew. "The History of Insurance in America." Investopedia. Investopedia, LLC, n.d. Web. 13 July 2015. http://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/08/american-insurance.asp


"Our Companies." The Andover Companies. The Andover Companies, n.d. Web. 13 July 2015. https://www.andovercos.com/aboutUs/Companies.History.html


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