A Guide to the Records of the Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1893-1977 Southern Aid Society of Virginia Records, 1893-1977 36805

A Guide to the Records of the Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1893-1977

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession 36805


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Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
USA
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2000 By the Library of Virginia.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Alex Lorch

Repository
Library of Virginia
Accession number
36805
Title
Records of the Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1893-1977
Size
65 cubic feet (67 boxes)
Creator
Southern Aid Society of Virginia
Physical Location
Business Records Collection, Acc. 36805
Language
Elamite

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Items containing Social Security Numbers (all folders in Box 11 and Folders 1-3 in Box 12) will not be served. Instead, redacted photocopies will be served.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Southern Aid Society of Virginia. Records, 1893-1977. Accession 36805. Business Records Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Atlanta Life Insurance, 216 East Clay Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 on 13 September 1999.


Historical Information

In early 1893, a handful of men in Richmond, Virginia organized the Southern Aid and Insurance Company in an effort both to furnish adequate and affordable insurance protection to African-Americans and to promote jobs for unemployed black youth. Chartered on February 25, 1893, Southern Aid and Insurance was the United States' first black owned and operated insurance company. The company founders chose Z.D. Lewis (1859-1926), pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Richmond, to head the corporation and R. Louis Brown as vice president. The other founding officers and board members were W.G. Carter, Charles Johnson, Jr., W.A. Payne, John E. Taylor, and W.R. Coots.

While the founding members had the insight to realize the possibilities of an insurance society for African-Americans, the business initially lacked the spectacular features of the highly popular fraternal orders and morally established church societies of the 1890's and early 20th century. After nearly a decade of slow growth and moderate profits, company leaders acted to reverse the stagnant business trends and modest cash influx. They replaced the company president Armistead Washington, a local fraternal order organizer and sympathizer, with prominent Hanover County banker and businessman, A.D. Price. Under Price's leadership the Southern Aid and Insurance Company became the Southern Aid Society of Virginia, Inc., a move intended to exploit the popularity of fraternal orders and beneficial societies. With a new president and a new name, the company eventually prospered and expanded with infant branches in other Virginia towns. By 1937 the company employed more than 300 black men and women in branches in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Despite its prominence as the first African-American insurance company, few have written about the Southern Aid Society of Virginia or its members after 1940. While some studies highlight the business' place in local Richmond history or its position as an entrepreneurial endeavor during the period of the beneficial societies and fraternal orders, no comprehensive study of the Southern Aid Society of Virginia exists. Little also was written in the late 1980's when the company's building at 214 E. Clay Street (and presumably the Southern Aid Society of Virginia itself) was bought by the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.

Scope and Contents

The Southern Aid Society of Virginia business records contain 67 es of material ranging from 1893-1977 and arranged in five series. Series I consists of executive committee meeting minutes; Series II is employee records; Series III is financial account records and correspondence; Series IV contains policyholder records and correspondence; and Series V consists of memorabilia and miscellaneous material. The types of material found in those five series are minutes, ledgers, correspondence, claims, policies, invoices, receipts, applications, manuals, lists, registers, annual statements, and memorabilia.

This material provides the researcher with an invaluable resource regarding the ongoing corporate affairs of the premier African-American insurance company in the United States. Executive committee meeting minutes ledgers in Series I document the monthly decision-making process of the company think-tank for much of the period between 1910-1934 and for a smaller period between 1954-1958. In Series III annual statements spanning from 1906-1929 record the monetary growth of the company from the time of the business' name change to the Great Depression. Also in Series III company financial records help fill the years missed by the annual statements by detailing the financial dynamics of this prosperous insurance business. Series III also includes correspondence and invoices that trace some of the stock and bond investments made by the company. Also a few folders of correspondence and receipts in Series III concerns the company's decision to invest their modest profits in the redesign and renovation of their permanent business location at 214 East Clay Street.

Aside from the records' obvious worth as an economic research resource, the collection also helps to document the social effect of the Southern Aid Society on the black community in Richmond's Jackson Ward district and in other Virginia and Mid-Atlantic black communities. Employee and employment records and ledgers in Series II provide evidence of company hiring practices, the demographic make-up of the Southern Aid Society of Virginia staff, and evidence of agents' work ethics, earning power, spending habits, and even religious affiliation. Policyholder records and correspondence in Series IV contain social characteristics and demographic data for the larger black community from 1894-1914. The entire collection of ledgers and other papers authenticates not only the rise of entrepreneurial insurance enterprise in Virginia but the development of a financially self-supporting black community first in Richmond and then throughout the Mid-Atlantic United States.

Organization

Organized into the following series: I: Executive Committee Meeting Minutes. II. Employee Records. III. Financial and Investment Account Records and Correspondence. IV. Policyholder Records and Correspondence. V. Memorabilia Miscellaneous.

Index Terms

  • Annual reports.
  • Business records-- Virginia.
  • Corporate minutes.
  • Employees' manuals.
  • Insurance agents--Virginia--19th century.
  • Insurance agents--Virginia--20th century.
  • Insurance claims--Virginia- -20th century.
  • Insurance claims.
  • Insurance companies--Virginia-- Richmond--20th century.
  • Insurance companies--Virginia--Richmond--19th century.
  • Insurance policies--Virginia-- 20th century.
  • Insurance policies--Virginia--19th century.
  • Insurance policies.
  • Insurance records.
  • Ledgers.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Richmond (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Richmond (Va.)--History--20th century.
  • Second Baptist Church of Richmond (Va.)
  • Southern Aid and Insurance Company of Virginia (Richmond, Va.)

Contents List

Series I
Executive Committee Meeting Minutes, 1910-1958
6 volumes

Executive committee meeting minutes are ledgers (6 volumes) dated 1910-1917, 1922-27, 1931-1934, and 1954-1958.

  • Box 1
    Minutes: 24 October 1910 - 21 July 1917
  • Box 2
    Minutes: 25 May 1922 - 17 April 1924
  • Box 3
    Minutes: 22 April 1924 - 4 February 1926
  • Box 4
    Minutes: 9 February 1926 - 6 October 1927
  • Box 5
    Minutes: 25 June 1931 - 8 March 1934
  • Box 6
    Minutes: 7 October 1954 - 19 August 1958
Series II
Employee Records, 1913-1969

Employee records (6 volumes and .90 cu.ft.) consist of agents' debit and credit accounts ledgers (3 volumes), 1927-1969; employees' training and fieldwork manuals (1 volume), n.d.; applications for employment and other employment documents arranged alphabetically (.675 cu. ft.), n.d.; employee lists (.1 cu.ft.), n.d.; employee payroll and earnings statements (1 volume), 1965; weekly letters to employees from company management (.025 cu.ft.), 1945; agents' resolutions and appeals to management (.1 cu.ft.), 1913; and an agent's salary and commissions ledger (1 volume), 1946. Employment applications include questionnaires inviting responses concerning marital status, religious affiliation, age, disability, residence, and academic history.

  • Box 7
    Agents' debit and credit account ledgers, 1927-1953
  • Box 8
    Agents' debit and credit account ledgers, 1940-1956
  • Box 9
    Agents' debit and credit account ledgers, 1940-1969
  • Box 10
    Employees' training and fieldwork manuals
  • Box 11
    Folder 1
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, A-B
  • Box 11
    Folder 2
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, E
  • Box 11
    Folder 3
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, E-F
  • Box 11
    Folder 4
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, G
  • Box 11
    Folder 5
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, H
  • Box 11
    Folder 6
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, H
  • Box 11
    Folder 7
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, H
  • Box 12
    Folder 1
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, H-J
  • Box 12
    Folder 2
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, P-R
  • Box 12
    Folder 3
    Applications for employment and other employment documents, S-T
  • Box 12
    Folder 4
    List of salaried employees in the Richmond District, n.d.
  • Box 12
    Folder 5
    Weekly letters to emmployees, n.d.
  • Box 12
    Folder 6
    Agents' resolutions and appeals to management, 1913
  • Box 13
    Employee payroll and earnings statements, 1965
  • Box 14
    Agent's salary and commissions ledger, 1946
Series III
Financial and Investment Account Records and Correspondence

Financial account ledgers (85 volumes and 1.35 cu.ft.) consist of financial statements of rental agents (1 volume), n.d.; executive's correspondence concerning accounts and audits (.35 cu. ft.); Board of Directors' minutes concerning stock value (.05 cu.ft.), 1926; income tax and earnings statements (.05 cu.ft.), 1926; company cash account ledgers (30 volumes), 1914-1916, 1918-1919, 1923-1945, 1947-1960; check registers (3 volumes), 1932-1943; annual statements (24 volumes), 1906-1929; monthly rental property account ledger (1 volume), 1918; correspondence, invoices and receipts concerning investments and Club 533, Inc. (.90 cu.ft.), 1968-1980; miscellaneous financial account ledgers (2 volumes), 1940-1950, 1953-1973; Virginia Beneficial Life Insurance Company (Norfolk, Va.) financial account ledger (1 volume), 1916-1917; policy account number ledgers (22 volumes), 1894-1914; and a policy account number ledger (1 volume) for the African-American Aid and Endowment Order of Virginia, n.d. Policyholder account ledgers are arranged by policy number and include policyholder's name, age, benefits, premium, beneficiary, agent's name, and year. Some ledgers also list county or Southern Aid Society of Virginia agent's branch location. Branches were found in Alexandria, Bristol, Charlottesville, Danville, Farmville, Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke, Saluda, Suffolk, Winchester, Virginia; and Washington, D.C.

Company cash account ledgers includes chronological lists of expenditures for checks, claims, telecommunications, salaries, commissions, advertising, real estate expenses, medical fees, traveling expenses, sundries, and postage. Also contains dated entries for company deposits stemming from premium collections, application fees, assessments, mortgages and bonds, loans, rents, employee deposits, and sundries.

  • Box 15
    Statements of rental agent
  • Box 16
    Folder 1
    Correspondence from P. H. Robinson, Superintendant, concerning audits and accounts
  • Box 16
    Folder 2
    Correspondence from C. W. Murray, Superintendant, concerning audits and accounts
  • Box 16
    Folder 3
    Correspondence from P. J. McPhail, Acting Superintendant, concerning audits and accounts
  • Box 16
    Folder 4
    Correspondence sent to S. H. Bell, Superintendant, from W. R. Allen concerning audits and accounts
  • Box 16
    Folder 5
    Board of Directors minutes concerning stock value, 1926
  • Box 16
    Folder 6
    Income tax and earnings statement, 1926
  • Box 16
    Folder 7
    Miscellaneous receipts and disbursements reports, n.d.
  • Box 17
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1914
  • Box 17
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1915
  • Box 17
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1914
  • Box 17
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1915
  • Box 18
    Company cash account ledger, 1916
  • Box 19
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1918-1919
  • Box 19
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1923-1924
  • Box 20
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1925-1926
  • Box 20
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1926-1927
  • Box 21
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1928-1929
  • Box 21
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1929
  • Box 22
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1930-1931
  • Box 22
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1931-1932
  • Box 23
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1933-1934
  • Box 23
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1934-1936
  • Box 24
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1936-1938
  • Box 24
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1938-1940
  • Box 25
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1940-1941
  • Box 25
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1942-1943
  • Box 26
    Company cash account ledger, 1944-1945
  • Box 27
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1942-1945
  • Box 27
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1947-1948
  • Box 27
    Folder 3
    Company cash account ledger, 1948-1960
  • Box 28
    Company cash account ledger, 1949-1950
  • Box 29
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1949-1950
  • Box 29
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1950-1951
  • Box 30
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1951-1952
  • Box 30
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1953
  • Box 31
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1954
  • Box 31
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1957
  • Box 32
    Folder 1
    Company cash account ledger, 1953-1954
  • Box 32
    Folder 2
    Company cash account ledger, 1959-1960
  • Box 33
    Folder 1
    Check register, 1932-1936
  • Box 33
    Folder 2
    Check register, 1936-1940
  • Box 33
    Folder 3
    Check register, 1940-1943
  • Box 34
    Annual statements, 1906-1929
  • Box 35
    Monthly rental property account ledger, 1918
  • Box 36
    Folder 1
    Miscellaneous financial account ledger, 1940-1950
  • Box 36
    Folder 2
    Miscellaneous financial account ledger, 1953-1973
  • Box 37
    Miscellaneous financial account ledger, 1940-1950, Virginia Beneficial Life Insurance Company (Norfolk Va.)
  • Box 38-59
    Policy account number ledgers, 1894-1914
  • Box 60
    Policy account number ledger, African-American Aid and Endowment Order of Virginia/Virginia State Relief Association, n.d.
  • Box 61
    Folder 1
    Correspondence, contracts, and invoices pertaining to the construction of the home office at 214 East Clay Street, 1930-1931
  • Box 61
    Folder 2
    General School Refunding Bonds for Rutherford County, North Carolina, 1940
  • Box 61
    Folder 3
    Correspondence, invoices and receipts pertaining to public improvement and civic bonds purchased by Southern Aid Society of Virginia 1951
  • Box 61
    Folder 4
    Real Estate Collateral Trust Notes, 1931
  • Box 61
    Folder 5
    Surety bonds for Southern Aid Society of Virginia employees, 1938, 1952
  • Box 61
    Folder 6
    Correspondence, invoices and receipts pertaining to stocks and bonds purchased by Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1947-1978
  • Box 61
    Folder 7
    Correspondence, invoices and receipts pertaining to stocks and bonds purchased by Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1921-1959
  • Box 62
    Folder 1
    Correspondence and documents pertaining to Club 533, Inc. insurance and loans, 1968-1980
  • Box 62
    Folder 2
    Schedules of Direct Reduction Loan for Club 533, Inc., 1968-1980
  • Box 62
    Folder 3
    Correspondence and documents pertaining to Club 533, Inc., insurance and loans, 1967-1980
  • Box 62
    Folder 4
    Managers' and Superintendants' reports, 1961-1977
  • Box 62
    Folder 5
    Property rental records and accounts, 1914-1929, 1977-1980
Series IV
Policyholder Records and Correspondence

This series contains individual homeowners' policies and claims together with correspondence between agents and policyholders (.45 cu.ft.), 1950-1980. Also contains indices to agents' correspondence with policyholders ledgers (3 volumes), 1938-1939, 1950-1951, 1957-1963.

  • Box 63
    Folder 1
    Correspondence with policyholder Nannie B. Higganbotham, 1914
  • Box 63
    Folder 2
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Null and Anne E. Knight of Portsmouth, Virginia, 1952-1953
  • Box 63
    Folder 3
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Robert and Alma Merriman of Norfolk, Va., 1955
  • Box 63
    Folder 4
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Elsie Miller of Norfolk, Va., 1957
  • Box 63
    Folder 5
    Correspondence concerning the real insurance of Mary A. Moore of Norfolk, Va., 1954, 1956, 1959
  • Box 63
    Folder 6
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Levi Muntford of Portsmouth, Va., 1955-1958
  • Box 63
    Folder 7
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Isaac and Evelyn Murphy of Portsmouth, Va., 1956
  • Box 63
    Folder 8
    Homeowners' policy documents for William L. Nance and Ruth A. Nance of Richmond, Va., 1955-1956
  • Box 63
    Folder 9
    Correspondence concerning the lease of Mattie L. Patterson in Princess Anne County, Va., 1958
  • Box 63
    Folder 10
    Homeowners' policy documents for Samuel O'Brien Payne of Fredericksburg, Va., 1951-1964
  • Box 63
    Folder 11
    Correspondence concering the real estate insurance of Ernest, Edward, and Lillie Ann Pendleton of Norfolk, Va., 1959
  • Box 63
    Folder 12
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Lawrence R. and Elsie M. Penn of Norfolk, Va., 1955-1957
  • Box 63
    Folder 13
    Correspondence concering the mortgage accounts of Edwin James and Georgette Pierce of Norfolk, Va., 1958-1959
  • Box 63
    Folder 14
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Peter Ray and Bertha Pitchford of Norfolk, Va., 1956-1960
  • Box 63
    Folder 15
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Kathryn Pretlow of Norfolk, Va., 1960
  • Box 63
    Folder 16
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Paul R. Raskin of Norfolk, Va., 1959-1960
  • Box 63
    Folder 17
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of William and Rosa Mae Ricks of Norfolk, Va., 1958
  • Box 63
    Folder 18
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of Walter A. and Amelia Riddick of Norfolk, Va., 1959
  • Box 63
    Folder 19
    Homeowners' policy documents for Peter S. and Madlyn Ridley of Washington, D.C., 1967-1979
  • Box 63
    Folder 20
    Correspondence concerning the real estate insurance of various policyholders, 1957-1958
  • Box 64
    Index to agents' correspondence with policyholders ledger, 1938-1939
  • Box 65
    Index to agents' correspondence with policyholders ledger, 1950-1951
  • Box 66
    Index to agents' correspondence with policyholders ledger, 1957-1963
Series V
Memorabilia and Miscellaneous, n.d.
0.45 cubic feet

This series consists of miscellaneous memorabilia including blank forms, Southern Aid Society calendars, envelopes, notices, and company licensure forms along with some correspondence with other African-American businesses.

  • Box 67
    Folder 1
    Pennsylvania insurance company licensure documents for Southern Aid Society of Virginia, 1926
  • Box 67
    Folder 2
    Miscellaneous memorabilia including Southern Aid Society of Virginia calendars and a receipt book with an image of the company headquarters building, n.d.
  • Box 67
    Folder 3
    Blank Southern Aid Society of Virginia forms, n.d.
  • Box 67
    Folder 4
    Blank forms pertaining to death claims, n.d.
  • Box 67
    Folder 5
    Other companies blank insurance forms, n.d.
  • Box 67
    Folder 6
    Correspondence related to miscellaneous real estate, 1967
  • Box 67
    Folder 7
    Correspondence with other African-American organizations, 1916, 1917
  • Box 67
    Folder 8
    Notice of Southern Aid Society of Virginia special meeting, n.d.
  • Box 67
    Folder 9
    Southern Aid Society of Virginia envelope
  • Box 67
    Folder 10
    Virginia Beneficial Insurance Company letterhead, n.d.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Richmond (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Richmond (Va.)--History--20th century.