The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives document the founding and development of N.C. Mutual in Durham, N.C., and contribute to the historic record on African American businesses and entrepreneurship in the South and in the United States. Dating from 1850 to 2008, with the majority of the items created from 1920 to 2008, the material covers nearly every aspect of N.C. Mutual's operations, management, and milestones. There are corporate office files, including the offices of five company presidents; annual statements; reports; surveys; memos; legal and financial papers; original life insurance policies; training material; programming and outreach files; many ephemera and artifacts; and thousands of historical photographs of staff and their families, offices, buildings, and Durham scenes. Significant businessmen represented in the papers include founders John Merrick and Aaron Moore; and presidents Bert Collins, Joseph Goodloe, William Kennedy Jr., William Kennedy, III, Charles C. Spaulding, Asa T. Spaulding, and current president James H. Speed. The collection is especially rich in print material, including many issues of three company publications: The Mutual
(1903-1929), The Whetstone
(1924-1998), and The Weekly Review
(1925-1998). It is also notable for its assemblage of material on United States African American history, including much information on other companies, and public relations material dating from the earliest years to present times, including advertising ephemera, advertising campaigns, and other related items. Other materials document NCM's outreach to the African American community throughout its history to counter racism, unemployment, and diseases by means of public health programs, church affiliations, mentoring, and scholarship programs. Over one hundred selected digitized photographs and a few documents are also available online. Acquired and curated jointly by the North Carolina Central University's University Archives, Records and History Center and the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.
The records in the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives document the history of the oldest currently active African American insurance company in the United States. The materials date from 1850 to 2008, with the majority of the items dating from 1898 to 2008, and cover nearly all aspects concerning the operation, management, and milestones of NC Mutual (NCM). The archive comprises corporate office files, including the offices of five company presidents; annual statements, reports, surveys, and memos; legal and financial files; original life insurance policies and other documents; advertising, internal and external publications, pamphlets, posters, and other print material; training material; many historic photographs; public relations and outreach material; memorabilia; and audiovisual recordings. The bulk of the collection concerns the company's home office in Durham, N.C. but there is a significant amount of material that relates to NCM district offices located throughout the United States, particularly in the South, as well as records that refer to other related organizations such as insurance companies and financial institutions.
The collection contributes significantly to documentation on the history of African American businesses in the United States, particularly in the South, and on the socioeconomic status of African Americans in the South in the 20th century. There is also valuable information on public health issues affecting 20th-century African Americans and public health programming created by NC Mutual as well as other agencies. In addition, through company records and many ephemeral publications such as obituaries, the collection offers detailed documentation of the work status and personal lives of the company's many employees and their life insurance customers, predominantly African American women and men.
The collection is rich in print materials, and includes nearly complete runs of three company publications: The Mutual (1903-1929), The Whetstone (1924-1998), and The Weekly Review (1925-1998). It is also notable for public relations materials dating from the earliest years to the mid-2000s, including advertising ephemera, materials related to advertising campaigns, and other items. Additionally, there are records of NCM's extensive community outreach such as public health, mentoring, and scholarship programs, and documents relating to the company's ties with Durham's churches such as White Rock Baptist, and with other organizations such as Mechanics and Farmers Bank.
Corporate office files form the bulk of the collection, covering nearly every aspect of the company's operations and activities from its founding in 1898. There are extensive correspondence files as well as meeting notes and minutes, many legal and financial reports, and surveys of the insurance industry. Materials relating to a published history of NCM written by one of its presidents, William Kennedy Jr., are located in the Office of the Presidents Series. Company presidents represented most substantially in the files include: William Kennedy Jr. (1952-1958), Asa T. Spaulding (1959-1967), Joseph Goodloe (1968-1972), William Kennedy III (1972-1990), and Bert Collins (1990-2003). Earlier and later presidents and leaders, including founders Merrick and Moore, and presidents C.C. Spaulding and James Speed are also represented in smaller amounts of material. Personnel records are also present and are closed to use until 2074, 75 years after the date of most recent record.
Among the several thousand photographs in the collection, hundreds date from the first decades following the company's founding, and offer important and vivid historical evidence concerning NCM's history, its employees and their families, and the history of Durham, N.C. Many are oversize, and feature twenty panoramic photographs of conventions and other events from the early to mid-20th century. The collection also contains photographs of founders Merrick and Moore and their families, NC Mutual office buildings throughout its history, and many large photographic portraits of senior administration from the earliest years to the mid-2000s. Other photos capture employees at banquets and conventions throughout the company's history; some large sets of images from the early to mid-20th century document employee's homes as well. From the historic photographs and other images not represented in the collection, NCM created a permanent exhibit in its home office's "Heritage Hall" commemorating the company's history; these exhibit images, panels, and labels are also preserved in this collection.
Acquired and jointly curated by the North Carolina Central University's University Archives, Records, and History Center, and the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University.