Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Records
SFH 438  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (60.19 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Related Materials
  • Conservation Note
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    Title: Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Records
    creator: Fireman's Fund Insurance Company
    Identifier/Call Number: SFH 438
    Physical Description: 2 Cubic Feet One small flat box, one small pamphlet box, one oversized flat-file, one oversized framed item, one glass plate box.
    Date (inclusive): 1898-1940, circa 1970
    Date (bulk): 1898-1906
    Abstract: In 1863 William Holdredge created the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. His company established a fireman’s retirement fund with financing coming from 10% of his company’s annual net profit. This simultaneously reassured his customers that they were safe from fire and encouraged the firefighters to protect the city from fire.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.
    All requests for permission to publish from photographs must be submitted in writing to the Photo Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Fireman's Fund Insurance Compancy Records (SFH 438), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    Provenance

    Donated by the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in 2015.

    Related Materials

    Researchers are encouraged to see also the catalog holdings of the San Francisco Public Library for related materials.

    Conservation Note

    During processing, the entire collection was re-foldered and re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.

    Administrative History

    In 1860s San Francisco fire was a persistent and frequent threat to the city’s wooden structures. Volunteer firefighters received no compensation for their work which made them inconsistent and unreliable. The city suffered fires so frequently that insurance companies were wary of insuring San Francisco businesses. In 1863 William Holdredge created the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company to insure San Franciscan’s against fire. His new company established a fireman’s retirement fund with financing coming from 10% of his company’s annual net profit. This simultaneously reassured his customers that they were safe from fire and encouraged the firefighters to protect the city from fire.
    The 1870s brought three devastating fires to the country, all insured by the Fireman’s Fund. Beginning in 1871 with the Great Chicago Fire, in 1872 a massive fire burned Boston, and in 1875 the mining town of Virginia City (Nevada) burned to the ground. Each fire brought enormous losses to the Fireman’s Fund Company but they paid out their claims and continued to grow while many of their competitors folded. By January 1906 Fireman’s Fund had 6,000 agents and offered marine and the first national auto insurance policies.
    The April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake proved too much for the Fireman’s Fund. The company’s headquarters and records were destroyed during the Earthquake and Fire but the firm accepted each claimant’s word as evidence of their coverage. Estimates put client claims at $11.2 million which exceeded their assets by $4.2 million. To compensate for the company’s gap in assets they paid half the claim in cash and half in stock settling 8,600 claims without litigation. After the earthquake claims were paid Fireman’s Fund distributed its remaining assets to stockholders and went out of business.
    The company was immediately succeeded by the debt free Fireman's Fund Corporation with identical leadership. The new corporation appropriated all of its predecessor's ongoing business and agency network and continued to grow and profit throughout the twentieth century. In 1982 the corportation moved its headquarters to Novato.

    Scope and Content

    The Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company was founded in San Francisco in 1863 and paid policy holders half cash and half stock after the 1906 Earthquake. The collection consist of ephemera, photos, framed art, glass plates and realia.

    Arrangement

    The Collection is arranged in 3 series. Series 1: Ephemera, Series 2: Graphic Materials, Series 3: Realia. Series 2 has 3 sub-series. Sub-series 2.1 Photos, Sub-series 2.2: Framed Art, Sub-series 2.3: Glass Plates.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Fireman's Fund Insurance Companies.
    Fireman's Fund Insurance Company.
    Earthquakes -- California -- San Francisco -- Photographs.
    San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, Calif., 1906.
    Fireman's Fund Insurance Company