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Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company Records

Identifier: MG MBLI Records-(Offsite)

Scope and Contents

This portion of the MBLI collection is comprised of 160 bound volumes of records. The records date to the founding of the company, and increasingly reflect the nationwide scope of the business. In many cases the place of residence of policy-holders is not noted. The content of the volumes is as follows: 4 Dead Annuity Registers (1951-1980), 6 books of policy forms (1845-1936), 2 cashbooks (1845-1852), 2 Policy Ledgers (1889-1890), 1 Agents Ledger (1845-1847), 4 Insurance Tables (1887-1893), 10 policy and annuity forms (1900-1947), 10 account books (1877-1946), 28 Endowments Books (1866-1997), 71 Loss Registers(1845-1983), 4 Dividend Scales (1912 and 1915), 12 Docket Books (1907-1983), and 2 Salary and Compensation Books (1915-1919).

NOTE: The donation of Mutual Benefit records also includes many bound volumes of company magazines and newsletters (The Pelican, 1903-1983, with gaps; Mutual Benefit Life, 1933-1978; In the News, 1964-1965; Currents, 1979-1990; and Channels, 1980-1983), and a small selection of books.


  • 1845 - 2001


Biographical / Historical

The Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company (MBLI), based in Newark, was chartered by the state in 1845, the first such company in New Jersey. Of the twelve founding directors five were from Newark: Charles McNett, Lewis C. Grover, Marcus L. Ward, Samuel Meeker, and William M. Simpson. Ward served on the Bylaws, Executive, and Account Committees. The life insurance business was then in its infancy, but the company grew rapidly and by 1851 had offices in Boston and on Wall St. in New York City. Among the many prominent Newarkers associated with the company in its early years, Joseph P. Bradley served as "Mathematician" (actuary) from 1851 to 1863; he was succeded by Amzi Dodd, who went on to become president. Dodd oversaw the emergence of the company as a major force in the industry nationwide, and finally stepped down in 1902, when Frederick Frelinghuysen took over as president. Over the years the company refined and elaborated its statistical models in response to the medical crises of tuberculosis, cholera, and other epidemics, and issued policies (with special premiums) for military personnel in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and two World Wars.

The opening of the Mutual Benefit's new headquarters building at 520 Broad St. in 1957 signaled its commitment to maintaining its base in Newark. Eventually the company's operations expanded beyond life insurance, and it became a major developer of commercial property. In 1966, for example, Finance Committee Chairman Milford A. Vieser presided at the dedication of a 20-story office building at 550 Broad St.; it was the sixth building Mutual Benefit had financed in the area within ten years, and Board Chairman Paul Stillman announced plans for yet another building nearby. By 1991, after losses in an overheated real estate market, the Mutual Benefit was seized by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, and was liquidated and dissolved in June 2001. At that time Mutual Benefit's collapse was the largest ever of an American insurer.


160 Volumes

Language of Materials


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Repository Details

Part of the Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center, Newark Public Library Repository

3rd Floor
Newark Public Library
5 Washington St.
Newark NJ 07102 United States