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-- Manuscript Group 434, American Insurance Company, Newark, New Jersey Record Books, 1846-1893

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Manuscript Group 434, American Insurance Company, Newark, New Jersey

Record Books, 1846-1893, 0.75 linear feet / 5 volumes

Call Number: MG 434 + box & folder number


Summary:

Financial records; minutes of the finance committee; and records of persons and properties insured. The American Insurance Company was established in Newark in 1846, first specializing in shipping insurance and later in fire insurance.

 

Administrative Note:

The American Mutual Fire and Marine Insurance Company was chartered on March 4, 1846, and operated from its office in 746 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey. As of 1883 the company had changed its name to the American Insurance Company. By 1896 the business had expanded to include agencies in Rhode Island, Illinois, and California. The company joined the American Foreign Insurance Association in 1917 to cover marine and fire risks in foreign countries during World War I. By 1945 it was a major stock company whose investment portfolio included the capital stock of the Columbia Fire Insurance Company, the Dixie Fire Insurance Company, and the Bankers Indemnity Insurance Company. Insurance policies in 1945 covered: fire, automobile, marine, ocean war risks, aircraft, earthquake and natural disasters, workman’s compensation, theft, and health insurance.

At its inception the American Insurance Company specialized in shipping and fire insurance for individuals and corporations in the Newark area. Records of policies issued between 1846 and 1849 indicate tremendous growth due to fire insurance premiums. The marine insurance branch was deemed unprofitable, however, and in February, 1855 it was discontinued by President Gould. By 1885 Finance Committee activities concentrated on issuing loans, fire insurance policies, and reinvesting profits in the purchase of bonds and real estate.

Officers of the Finance Committee met at least once a month to discuss the company’s losses through insurance policies paid out, the status of loans either being considered or previously issued, and the general financial state of the company. The committee also performed an annual examination of the company’s securities, which entailed an audit of bonds and mortgages, real estate holdings, balances due for fire premiums, and an account of assets. Officers of the Finance Committee from 1855-1893 included: Stephen G. Gould, Fred H. Harris, John R. Weeks, Nehemiah Perry, George W. Ketchan, Henry Howell, and Peter H. Ballantine. Mr. Gould served as president of the company from 1854 until his death on January 29, 1883. He was succeeded by Fred H. Harris.

Sources:

American Insurance Company File, New Jersey Historical Society.

In Memoriam. Stephen G. Gould. Published by the American Insurance Company, Newark, NJ, 1883.

Souvenir of the 50th Anniversary of the American Insurance Company of Newark, NJ. Published by the American Insurance Company, Newark, NJ, 1896

Marsh, William Barton. An American Portrait. Newark, NJ: The American Insurance Company, 1946.

Corporations of New Jersey. List of Certificates Filed in the Department of State, from 1846 to 1894, inclusive. Compiled by the Secretary of State. Trenton, NJ: Naar, Day & Naar, Book and Job Printers, 1895.

 

Provenance Note:

The source of this collection is unknown

 

Scope and Content Note:

The American Insurance Company Record Books consist of 5 volumes pertaining to the activities of the Finance Committee, dating from 1846-1893, with bulk dates from 1855-1873 and 1884-1893. Record books are arranged chronologically by subject, and are organized in three series: Register of Fire Policies, Statements, and Finance Committee Books.

The Register of Fire Policies Book contains a record of insurance policies issued from 1846-1849. Included is detailed information on properties insured during a three year period. The Statements Record Book contains the quarterly and annual statements from 1847-1892. It also charts the company’s growth from its first year assets of $1,182.80 in 1847 to over $2 million in 1892. The three Finance Committee Books constitute the bulk of the documents and date from 1855-1893, with gaps. The books contain the minutes of the Finance Committee’s monthly meetings in which loan applications were reviewed, insurance claims resolved, and the financial security of the organization assessed.

 

Series Description:

Series I: Register of Fire Policies Book, 1846-1849 1 Volume (Box 1)

The Register of Fire Policies begins on April 4, 1846 with a $2,000 insurance policy issued to a grocer and lists over 2,700 policies granted until July, 1849. Entries contain the policy number, date, name of the policy holder and property covered, insured amount, and premiums. A wide range of items are listed including: homes, furniture, commercial establishments and inventory, livestock, tools, and office and workshop equipment.

Series II: Statements Book, 1847-1892 1 Volume (Box 2)

This series contains the annual and quarterly financial statements of the American Insurance Company from 1847-1892. Assets were calculated by subtracting expenses and the total amount of claims paid out from premiums and additional holdings. The statements document the company’s growth during its first forty years of operation.

Series III: Finance Committee Books, 1855-1893, with gaps 3 Volumes (Box 3)

This series consists of three record books documenting the activities of the Finance Committee which date from 1855-1873, 1884-1889, and 1889-1893. Sections are arranged chronologically as they were recorded. These books contain the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Finance Committee in which insurance claims are resolved and loan applications are reviewed, granted, referred, noted in danger of foreclosure, or declined. Other items of business involve the purchase and sale of bonds and real estate, and changes in the management of the corporation. The series also contains the annual Examination of the Securities of the Company which include: schedules of bonds and mortgages, schedules of balances, schedules of real estate, premiums due for fire premiums, and schedules of assets. Descriptions of insurance claims are periodically recorded in a Proofs of Loss Section.

 

Related Items and Collections:

Manuscript Group 360, Mechanics' Fire Insurance Company Records

In Memoriam. Stephen G. Gould. Published by the American Insurance Company, Newark, NJ, 1883.

Souvenir of the 50th Anniversary of the American Insurance Company of Newark, NJ. Published by the American Insurance Company, Newark, NJ, 1896

Marsh, William Barton. An American Portrait. Newark, NJ: The American Insurance Company, 1946.

 

Container List:

Box Folder Title Dates
Series I: Register of Fire Policies Book 1846-1849
1 1 Register of Fire Policies 1846-1849
Series II: Statements Book 1847-1892
2 1 Statements 1847-1892
Series III: Finance Committee Books
3 1 Finance Committee Book 1855-1873
3 2 Finance Committee Book 1884-1889
3 3 Finance Committee Book 1889-1893

 

Processed by Jeffrey V. Moy, Rutgers University Intern, March 2000

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