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Anglo-American Life Insurance, 1800–1914


Editors: Timothy Alborn and Sharon Ann Murphy

3 volume set: 1472pp: 234x156mm: 2013
978 1 84893 352 1: £295/$520

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The life insurance industry was one of the most important financial institutions of the long nineteenth century, on both sides of the Atlantic. By the eve of the Great Depression, there existed in America the equivalent of a policy for every man, woman and child alive at the time, whilst in Britain the life insurance market grew steadily from its narrow aristocratic base to encompass all social classes at home and throughout the empire.

The sources in this edition are collected in three themed volumes. Volume 1 looks at the public face of life insurance: how the industry sought to define and market life insurance to the public through treatises, brochures, prospectuses, and guides; innovations in life insurance products and sales techniques over time; and the exchange of ideas across the Atlantic. Volume 2 addresses the internal workings of the life insurance industry including its organization and architecture, agency system, fund management, competition between companies, fraudulent companies and legislation involving the sale of insurance.

Finally, Volume 3 focuses on mortality and risk, from the collection of data and the development of mortality tables, the evolution of the medical exam and the evaluation of risk factors, to gambling, fraud and murder.

  • The first comparative international study of its kind
  • A useful resource to scholars of the history of medicine, population geography, the history of insurance and finance, and the social and economic history of the long nineteenth century
  • Sources come from journals, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, prospectuses and addresses given at society meetings
  • Editorial apparatus includes a general introduction, volume introductions, headnotes and endnotes
  • Consolidated index in the final volume

Volume 1: What is life insurance? Why should you insure? Selling Life Insurance to the Public

I. Guides and Prospectuses

British Life Insurance in the 1840s: Richard Morgan, Familiar Observations on Life Insurance (1841), Chapter 4; Life Insurance Offices, New and Speculative (1846), excerpt. The Emergence of American Life Insurance: ‘Securitas', 'Life Insurance’, Connecticut Courant (1833); T R Jencks, ‘Life Insurance in the United States, Number I’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Rebiew (1843); T R Jencks, ‘Life Insurance in the United States, Number II’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Rebiew (1843). Early Prospectuses: William Frend, Rock Life Assurance Company (1809); An Address from the President and Directors of the Pennsylvania Company for Insurances on Lives and Granting Annuities to the Inhabitants of the United States (1814); Proposals and Rates of the Standard Life Assurance Company (1833). New American Prospectuses: William Bard, A Letter to David E Evans, Esquire, of Batavia, on Life Insurance (1832); Life Insurance: Its Principles, Operations and Benefits, as Presented by the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (1849); John Freestone, Where to Insure: An Impartial and Independent Guide (1890), excerpt.

II. Religion and Domesticity

Religion and Life Insurance in America: Charter of the Corporation for the Relief of the Widows and Children of Clergymen (1769), excerpt; ‘Life Insurance’, Religious Intelligencer (1835); ‘Life Insurance – Ministers’, Christian Secretary (1847); ‘Life Insurance – A Scruple’, Christian Secretary (1847); ‘Life Insurance of Ministers’, Christian Secretary (1847); 'Prospectus of the Dissenters’ and General Life and Fire Assurance Company’, Ecelctic Review (1839), excerpt. Life Insurance as a Domestic Duty: 'Life Insurance', Macon Weekly Telegraph (1838); John Neal, ‘Life Assurance’, Columbian Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine (1846); Arthur Scratchley, Observations on Life Assurance Societies, and Savings Banks (1851), excerpt; Arthur Reade, ‘Before the Wedding Ring’, Policy-holder: An Insurance Journal (1885).

III. Varieties of Self-Help

Benefit Societies versus Saving Banks and Insurance Companies: An Address to the members of Benefit Societies and the Public in General (1822). Life Insurance and Savings Banks in America: A B Johnson, 'The Relative Merits of Life Insurance and Savings Banks', Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review (1851); Joseph B Collins, 'Life Insurance', Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review (1852). Insurance and Self-Help in Britain: ‘Insurance amongst the Working Classes’, Economist (1858); Frank Ives Scudamore, Life Insurance by Small Payments: A Few Plain Words Concerning It (1861). Insurance and Self-Help in America: George D Eldridge, ‘Assessment Life Insurance’, North American Review (1890); B H Meyer, ‘Fraternal Beneficiary Societies in the United States’, American Journal of Sociology (1901).

IV. New Markets

Josiah C Nott, ‘Statistics of Southern Slave Population, with Especial Reference to Life Insurance’, DeBow’s Commercial Review (1847); W E Burghardt Du Bois (ed.), Some Efforts of American Negroes for their Own Social Betterment (1898), excerpt; Arthur Wyndham Tarn, ‘Some Notes on Life Assurance in Greater Britain’, Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (1899), excerpt. Industrial Insurance in Britain: Joseph Burn, ‘Industrial Life Assurance’, Journal of Federated Insurance Institutes (1902); J F Williams, Life Insurance of the Poor: An Illumination of Economic Disadvantage (1912). Industrial Insurance in America: John F Dryden, ‘The Social Economy of Industrial Insurance: A Lecture’ (1909); Frederick Hoffman, Life Insurance of Children (1903).

V. Anglo-American Interlopers

[Pelican Life Insurance Company], ‘Life Insurance. To Parents, Guardians, and Others, Desirous of Securing a Provision against Sudden Death’, New-York Evening Post (1808). The 'American Invasion': 'The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States', advertisement, Insurance Record (1874); Joseph Allen, There is Dust in John’s Eyes; or, American and British Life Insurance Offices Contrasted (1882); Book review of There is Dust in John's Eyes, Post Magazine (1882); ‘The Mutual’s English Business’, Independent (1906)

Volume 2: Running a Life Insurance Company

I. Office Organization

‘Insurance as a Profession’, Bankers’ Magazine (1893); Archibald Hewat, ‘The Actuary in Scotland’, Transactions of the Faculty of Actuaries (1907), excerpt; Joel L English, ‘Home Office Management’ (1912).

II. The Work Environment

Office Machinery: ‘Writing Machines, by a Caledonian Typist’, Caledonian Jottings (1893); Henry N Kaufman, ‘Some Uses for the Hollerith Machines’, Transactions (1909). Palatial Halls: 'A Lady Clerk on the New Offices', Ibis Magazine (1879); F A McKeand, ‘The Palatial Halls of Insurance’, Norwich Union Magazine (1897); The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company: Its History, its Present Position in the insurance world, its Home Office Building and its Work Carried on Therein (1914), excerpt.

III. The Sales Force

Advice to Agents: Eagle and Protector Life Assurance Company, Observations for the Use of the Agents (1847); ‘Advice to Insurance Agents’, Insurance Gazette ([c.1855]). Popular Perceptions: Robert Sulivan, 'Insurance and Assurance', New Monthly Magazine (1825); Robert Chambers, ‘The Life-Assurance Agents Appeal’, Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Art (1860); ‘The Dodges of Life Insurance Agents’, Sphinx (1869); E C Browne, Life Agencies: Thoughts and Suggestions Concerning their Economic and Efficient Arrangement (1878), excerpt; ‘Bank Officials as Insurance Agents’, Bankers’ Magazine (1889); Edward A Woods, ‘Agency Management’ (1912), excerpt.

IV. Institutional Investment

British Portfolios: ‘The Profits of Joint-Stock Enterprise: Life Insurance’, Economist (1869); ‘Some Life Insurance Investments’, Bankers’ Magazine (1896); Lester William Zartman, ‘The Character of the Investments’ (1907); ‘Profits and Premiums of Life Insurance’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1846). Annuities: ‘Annuities, Life Insurance, Tontines, etc, Number I’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1847); ‘Annuities, Life Insurance, Tontines, etc, Number II’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1847); 'Deferred Dividend Policies' (1869). Endowment Insurance: ‘Endowment Assurance’, Bankers’ Magazine (1896); ‘The Capabilities of Endowment Assurance and Annuities’, English Review (1913).

V. When Things Fell Apart

Early Life Insurance Failures: ‘Life Insurance’, Hallowell Gazette (1826); ‘Life Assurance’, Monthly Review (1841), excerpt; Malcolm Ronald Laing-Meason, ‘Insurance and Assurance’, All the Year Round (1865). The Albert Failure: ‘The Failure of the Albert Insurance Company’, Economist (1869); ‘An Insurer’s Grievance’, London Times (1869). Embezzlement: 'The Absconding Secretary of the Trust Company', Brother Jonathan (1843); ‘Life Insurance’, Galaxy Magazine (1877).

VI. Life Insurance Regulation

State Laws in America: ‘No. 32 – An Act in Amendment of “An Act Relating to Insurance on Lives by Foreign Corporations”’ (1854); Moses L Knapp, Lectures on the Science of Life Insurance (1853), excerpt; ‘The First American Life Underwriters’ Convention’, United States Insurance Gazette (1859), excerpt; ‘Proceedings of the Life Insurance Convention’, United States Insurance Gazette (1860), excerpt; ‘Valuation of Life Insurance Policies’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1860); Paul v. Virginia, Supreme Court of the United States (1869). British Calls for Reform: Charles Jellicoe, ‘The Life Assurance Controversy’, Assurance Magazine (1853); ‘Life Assurance’, Economist (1853). The Life Assurance Companies Act: ‘The European Assurance Case and the Necessity for Government Inspection’, Economist (1869); W R Malcolm and R G C Hamilton, ‘Report to the Board of Trade upon the Accounts and Statements of Life Assurance Companies’, Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (1875); H R Harding, ‘British Life Assurance Companies and Colonial Legislation’, Post Magazine (1895), excerpt. The Armstrong Hearings: ‘Insurance Probers Seek these Reforms’, New York Times (1906), excerpt; Sydney Brooks, ‘"The Big Three", 1905–1912’, North American Review (1912); William Brosmith, ‘State Laws’ (1912). Protecting Dependents: ‘The Widow and the Fatherless’, Catholic Telegraph (1840); Arthur Scratchley, 'Life Assurance', Daily News (1863); Thomas Bond Sprague, ‘On the Grant of Settlement Policies under the Married Women’s Property Acts, 1870 and 1882’, Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (1883).

Volume 3: Mortality and Risk

I. Mortality Tables and Premium Rates

Henry Moir, ‘Mortality Tables’ (1909). British Combined Experience Tables: Samuel Brown, Preface to On the Mortality Experience of Life Assurance Companies (1869), excerpt; 'The New Life Tables', Accountant (1901). American Mortality Tables: ‘Vital Statistics. Importance of Registration’, Insurance Monitor (1867); ‘The First American Life Underwriters’ Convention’, United States Insurance Gazette and Magazine of Useful Knowledge (1859), excerpt; ‘Proceedings of the Life Insurance Convention’, United States Insurance Gazette and Magazine of Useful Knowledge (1860), excerpt; ‘Mortality Tables’, Insurance Record (1869). John Adams Higham, On the Value of Selection amongst Assured Lives (1850). Premium Rates: Lewis Pocock, A Familiar Explanation of the Nature, Advantages, and Importance of Assurances upon Lives, and the Various Purposes to which they may be Usefully Applied (1842), excerpt; ‘Comparative Rates of Domestic and Foreign Life Insurance’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1859); Life Assurance Premiums Charged by Various Companies (1910), excerpt.

II. The Application and Medical Exam

Medical Selection of Lives: Editorial and Correspondence on Medical Fees, Lancet (1849); William Brinton, On the Medical Selection of Lives for Assurance (1856), excerpt. Application Forms: T Glover Lyon, ‘Some Medical Points of Difference between Life Assurance in the United States of America and in England’, Transactions of the Life Assurance Medical Officers’ Association (1895); Robert L Burrage, 'Present Standards in Medical Selection', Thirteenth Annual Meeting of the Association of Life Insurance Medical Directors of America (1902); ‘Form 8 – Medical Application for Life Insurance’ (1912). Consumption: 'Consumption', Fifth Annual Meeting of the Association of Life Insurance Medical Directors of America (1894); Mazyck P Ravenel, ‘The Warfare against Tuberculosis’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1903).

III. Risk Factors beyond Disease

Gender: ‘Proportionate Longevity of the Two Sexes’, Journal of Health (1831); James Thorburn, 'Notes on Female Risks', Ninth Annual Meeting of the Association of Life Insurance Medical Directors of America (1898); ‘Death Busy among the Bachelors’, Insurance Monitor (1867). Travel and Climate: ‘Travelling and Life Insurance’, London Times (1867); C R Francis, ‘Life-Assurance and Residence in Hot Climates’, British Medical Journal (1878); ‘Life Insurance in California’, Insurance Monitor (1869); Harold Edward William Lutt, ‘On Extra Premiums’, Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (1907), excerpt. War Risks: Elizur Wright, ‘War Risks of Life Insurance’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1861); Editorial on War Risks, Post Magazine (1882); Correspondence on War Risks, Morning Post (1885); Review of Frederick Schooling and Edward A Rusher, ‘The Mortality Experience of the Imperial Forces during the War in South Africa’, Journal of State Medicine (1903). The American Civil War: ‘Life Insurance War Risks’, Insurance Gazette (1862); ‘Abstract of the Ninth Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioners of Massachusetts’, Insurance Gazette (1864), excerpt; ‘Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company of Newark, NJ – Circular to Southern Agents in Relation to their Operations’, Insurance Gazette (1861); B Rush, ‘To William Bard, Esq, President of the New York Life Insurance and Trust Company’, New York Evangelist (1830); John Broomhall, ‘Temperance and Life Assurance’ (1877). Alcohol Consumption: ‘Inebriety and Insurance’, Post Magazine (1893); ‘Liquor and Life Insurance’, New Light (1902).

IV. Protecting against Moral Hazard, Fraud and Violations of Insurable Interest

The Policy: Levi G Fouse, ‘The Policy’ (1912); ‘Form 6 – Ordinary Life Policy’ (1912), excerpt. Insurable interest: Lord v. Dall, Supreme Court of Massachusetts (1815); Editorial on Life Insurance trials, Bankers' Circular and Monetary Times (1830); ‘Abstract of the Ninth Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioners of Massachusetts: Insurable Interest’, Insurance Gazette (1864), excerpt. Insurance and Gambling: ‘Assurance and Insurance’, London Saturday Journal (1839); ‘Gaming, Betting, Lotteries, and Insurance’, Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal (1852). Fraud: ‘Union Mutual Life Insurance Co. – Fraudulent Representations’, Insurance Monitor (1869); ‘Practical Points. Life Insurance’, New-York Legal Observer (1843); Editorial on Life Insurance Trails, London Times (1846); ‘Novel Life Insurance Case’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1857); ‘Insurance Legal Decision. Life Insurance – Important Case’, Insurance Gazette (1861); ‘Barrett vs. The Conn. Mutual Life. Counsel’s Statement of the Case’, Insurance Monitor Supplement (1869). Suicide: Editorial on Life Insurance and Suicide, Insurance Record (1878); Life Assurance’, Atlantic Monthly (1866), excerpt; ‘Important Cases in Life Insurance, from the English Common Law Reports: Borradaile v. Hunter’, Bankers’ Magazine and Statistical Register (1849); John Hitchman, 'An Extract from a Clinical Lecture Delivered in the Middlesex County Asylum', Lancet (1848);‘Suicide and Dueling’, Insurance Monitor (1869), excerpt. Incontestability and Indisputability: 'Indisputable Policies', Post Magazine (1851); ‘Unjust Toleration. A Warning to Life Insurance Companies’, Insurance Monitor (1867); ‘Life Assurance and Suicide’, British Medical Journal (1894). Faking Death: ‘Attempt to Swindle a Life Insurance Company’, Insurance Monitor (1867); ‘A Philadelphia Life Ins. Fraud’, Insurance Monitor (1867). Murder: ‘Another Life Insurance Horror’, Insurance Monitor (1879); Illustrated Life and Career of William Palmer of Rugeley (1856), excerpt; ‘Does a Man Shorten his Life by Insuring It?’, Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine (1856); ‘Henry Mayhew’s Inquiries into Suspicious Deaths’, United States Insurance Gazette and Magazine of Useful Knowledge (1856).

Editor: Timothy Alborn, Lehman College/CUNY
Editor: Sharon Ann Murphy, Providence College

This title is now available to buy from ebrary:

ISBNs: 9781848933521 978-1-84893-352-1 ISBNs: 9781781445112 978-1-78144-511-2

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