North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives, 1850, 1888-2000s, bulk 1920-2008
Using These Materials
- Access note. Files in the Office of the President Subseries are restricted for 25 years from the last year of each presidency. Permission to access these records must be granted by NC Mutual in...
- North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
- The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in Durham, N.C. in 1897, and was dissolved in 2022. Its archives document the company's founding and development, 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, the material covers nearly every aspect of N.C. Mutual's operations, management, and milestones. Includes corporate office files, including the records of five company presidents; annual statements; reports; surveys; memos; legal and financial papers; original life insurance policies; training material; programs; ephemera and artifacts; and a large number of historical photographs of male and female staff and their families, offices, buildings, and Durham scenes dating back to the late 1890s. 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. Throughout there are numerous images and narratives about the many women workers and administrative staff who held positions at the company dating back to the turn of the 20th century. 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 North Carolina Mutual'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.
230 Linear Feet
- Material in English
- Collection ID:
- Scope and Content:
The records in the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Archives document the history of one of the largest 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; thousands of historic photographs; public relations and outreach material; memorabilia; and audiovisual recordings as well as some films and videos.
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 valuable information on public health issues affecting 20th-century African Americans, and information about public health programming created by NC Mutual as well as by other entities. 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.
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.
Most of the records relates to the history and operations of the home office in Durham, N.C. but there is a significant amount of material that relates to district offices located throughout the United States, particularly in the South but also in cities such as Philadelphia, as well as records that refer to other related organizations such as insurance companies and financial institutions.
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). Extensive public relations materials date from the earliest years to the mid-2000s, and include 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.
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.
- Biographical / Historical:
Timeline for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Date Event 1883 The Royal Knights of King David, a fraternal organization, formed by John Merrick, John Wright, W. A. Day, J. D. Morgan, and T. J. Jones to provide insurance for African Americans, chiefly for burials 1898 Inspired by the Royal Knights of King David, North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association founded by John Merrick, Dr. Aaron Moore, P. W. Dawkins, D. T. Watson, W. G. Pearson, E. A. Johnson and J. E. Shepard John Merrick, born enslaved, named first president; Dr. Aaron Moore, first medical director 1899 North Carolina Mutual incorporated by the North Carolina General Assembly, began doing business selling burial insurance 1900 Charles Clinton (C.C.) Spaulding named general manager 1901 Dr. Aaron Moore and John Merrick founded the Lincoln Hospital in Durham to serve African Americans, with Moore as its first superintendent 1903 First full-time insurance agents hired NCM began to buy lots in Durham and build houses for influx of black workers Launch of first internal publication: The North Carolina Mutual 1907 NCM founded and provided capital for Mechanics and Farmers Bank in Durham, to better serve African Americans NCM began issuing ordinary whole life policies in $100, $200, and $500 face amounts 1910 Merrick-Moore-Spaulding Land Company formed; as NCM real estate subsidiary, constructed hundreds of low-cost rental houses in African American neighborhoods in Durham 1919 Death of President John Merrick; Dr. A. M. Moore appointed as successor NCM charter amended, changing the name to North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company 1920-1921 Dr. Donnell, new director of Medical Department, organized modern medical facilities in new Home Office 1923 C.C. Spaulding became president after the death of Dr. Moore 1943 The Liberty Ship S.S. John Merrick built, named in honor of the company's first president, was launched from Wilmington, N.C.; participated in the invasion of France in June 1944, making many voyages ferrying troops, tanks and supplies between English ports and Utah Beach; returned to Brooklyn, New York, April 1945 1948 North Carolina Mutual marked its golden anniversary, producing short film, Success Story 1950 The company reached its goal of having $200 million of life insurance in force 1952 William J. Kennedy, Jr. appointed president after the death of C. C. Spaulding 1959 Asa T. Spaulding appointed president after William J. Kennedy, Jr.'s retirement from the office 1960 Director of Medical Department, Dr. Donnell, retired, succeeded by Dr. Charles Watts 1966 The company dedicated its headquarters on Chapel Hill Street with Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as the keynote speaker 1967 The Board of Directors established the Merrick-Moore-Spaulding National Achievement Award 1968 Joseph W. Goodloe became president after Asa T. Spaulding's retirement from the office 1971 NCM broke into "Billion Dollar League" by having more than one billion dollars of insurance in force 1972 William J. Kennedy, III became president after Joseph Goodloe's retirement from the office 1983 Opening of the Heritage Room, an image-based exhibit of the company's history 1986 The company forms NCM Capital Management Group, Inc. to expand its presence in the financial arena and to diversify its business and investment mix 1987 Director of Medical Department, Dr. Charles Watts, retired, succeeded by Dr. John Daniel, Jr.; several years later, Medical Department is discontinued 1990 Bert Collins appointed president and CEO after William Kennedy III's retirement from the office 1995 Board member Thelma J. Smith was named chair of the audit committee; first woman to head a major NCM committee 1997 NCM licensed to operate in 22 states and the District of Columbia with offices in 11 states and Washington, D.C., and more than $9 billion of insurance in force 1998 NCM celebrated its centennial anniversary 2004 James H. Speed, Jr. appointed president and CEO after Bert Collins' retirement from the office 2015 James Speed retired; Michael Lawrence becomes new President and CEO 2022 October Following an investment manager's misappropriation of millions of dollars which crippled the company's finances, NC Mutual was ordered liquidated by the NC State Insurance Commissioner and a NC state Supreme Court
Founded in 1898 and headquartered in Durham, N.C., the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was the oldest active African American-owned insurance company in the U.S. In 2022, the company was ordered liquidated by a N.C. court, following an external financial investment manager's misappropriation of funds which crippled the company.
North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company Presidents Date Event 1898-1919 John Merrick 1919-1923 Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore 1923-1952 Charles C. Spaulding, Sr. 1952-1958 William J. Kennedy, Jr. 1958-1968 Asa T. Spaulding, Sr. 1968-1972 Joseph W. Goodloe 1972-1990 William J. Kennedy, III 1990-2003 Bert Collins 2004-2015 James H. Speed 2015-2022 Michael L. Lawrence
- Acquisition Information:
- The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archives were received by the Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library and by the North Carolina Central University University Archives, Records and History Center, from the company as a gift in 2009 and 2016.
- Processing information:
Processed by Paula Jeannet, L. Colby Bogie, Jessica Carew, Carrie Mills, Elizabeth Shesko, Jennifer Snow, Andre D. Vann, May 2011
Updated December 2014 to reflect addition of items scheduled for conservation, Paula Jeannet.
Addition processed and encoded by Paul Sommerfeld, December 2016.
Additional description of fragile items slated for conservation, Paula Jeannet, January 2017. Digital file access and description added for oversize panorama, 2017, [Matthew] Farrell.
Description updated by Paula Jeannet following liquidation of NC Mutual, May 2023
Accessions represented: 2009-0231 and 2016-0296.
The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archives are arranged in the following series, described more fully in this collection guide: Company Offices (86 boxes), Corporate History Files (2 boxes), Digital Media (3 boxes), Exhibit Materials (25 boxes), Memorabilia and Artifacts (16 boxes), Other Organizations (9 boxes), Photographic Materials (24 boxes), Printed Materials (51 boxes), Recordings (5 boxes and 19 film cans), Social Groups and Events (1 box), and Scrapbooks (6 boxes). There are Oversize Material sections consisting of 54 flat boxes and 10 oversize folders) listed most often after each relevant series in this collection guide.
The Company Offices Series is subdivided into these series: Actuary, Agency, Auditing, Controller, Corporate Planning, Executive Committee, Facilities, Medical Department, Office of the President (the largest subseries; some restrictions), Public Relations, and Personnel Files (restricted).
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Related Material:
- Asa and Elna Spaulding Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- C.C. Spaulding Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- Lincoln Hospital Records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- North Carolina Mutual Digital Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- Charles DeWitt Watts Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
- William A. Clement Papers, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.
Advertising -- Insurance
African American business enterprises -- History
African American business enterprises -- North Carolina -- History
African American businesspeople -- History
African American executives -- North Carolina
African American families -- Economic aspects -- North Carolina
African American women -- Employment -- History
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham -- Economic conditions -- 20th century
African Americans -- Health and hygiene
African Americans in advertising
African Americans -- Diseases
African Americans -- Employment -- History
African Americans -- Medical care -- 20th century
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham -- History
African Americans -- North Carolina -- Durham -- Photographs
Insurance companies -- United States -- History
Insurance companies -- Employees
Insurance companies -- Management
Industries -- North Carolina -- Durham
Insurance companies -- North Carolina -- Periodicals
Life insurance -- History
Life insurance policies -- 20th century
North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company
John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture
University Archives, Records, and History Center (North Carolina Central University)
Watts, Charles DeWitt
Spaulding, Asa T. (Asa Timothy), 1902-1990
Spaulding, C. C. (Charles Clinton), 1874-1952
Merrick, John, 1859-1919
Moore, A. M. (Aaron McDuffie), 1863-1923
Kennedy, William Jesse, 1889-1985
Kennedy, William, III
Goodloe, Joseph W.
Durham (N.C.) -- Church history
Durham (N.C.) -- Economic conditions
Durham (N.C.) -- History
Durham (N.C.) -- Photographs
Durham (N.C.) -- Social conditions
North Carolina -- Economic conditions
Southern States -- Economic conditions
Using These Materials
Access note. Files in the Office of the President Subseries are restricted for 25 years from the last year of each presidency. Permission to access these records must be granted by NC Mutual in writing prior to use.
Access note. Some materials in this collection are electronic records that require special equipment. Contact Research Services with questions.
Access note. Collection contains fragile audiovisual/photographic formats that may need to be reformatted. Contact Research Services for access.
Access note. Some materials in this collection are personnel records. Records, such as search committee files or others pertaining to employment where individuals are identified, are closed for 70 years.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University or North Carolina Central University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
- BEFORE YOU VISIT:
- Please consult our up-to-date information for visitors page, as our services and guidelines periodically change.
- PREFERRED CITATION:
[Identification of item], North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University, and University Archives, Records and History Center, North Carolina Central University.