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Preliminary Guide to the Slavery Era Insurance Documents
Wyles Mss 97  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Materials

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Slavery Era Insurance Documents
    Dates: ca. 1846-1860, 2001-2002
    Collection number: Wyles Mss 97
    Collection Size: 0.9 linear feet (3 oversize boxes).
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Dept. of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Photocopies of documents collected by the State of California Insurance Department in pursuance of California Code Regulations, Title 10, Sections 2293-2398, which required insurance companies to provide documentation about insurance polices from the slavery era which coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves.
    Physical location: Del Sur Oversize.
    Languages: English

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    Slavery Era Insurance Documents. Wyles Mss 97. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donation from California Department of Insurance, May 2002.


    In August 2000 the California legislature found that "Insurance polices from the slavery era had been discovered in the archives of several insurance companies, documenting insurance coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves, issued by a predecessor insurance firm. These documents provide the first evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today." SB2199 Sec. 1 (a). Governor Davis signed the bill (SB2199) in to law, September 2000. This legislation had been introduced by then Senator Tom Hayden in May 2000. The statute took effect January 1, 2001. California Code Regulations, Title 10, Sections 2293-2398 implement the statute.
    The regulation required carriers to submit the requested data by October 13, 2001, the effective date of the regulation. Reports were to be provided on paper with names of slaves and slaveholders to be provided to the Department in an electronic format as well. A vast majority of responses indicated, in some fashion, that as the insurer it had been incorporated sometime after the end of the defined slavery era and since there was no predecessor company that existed during the applicable period, that the insurer had nothing to report.
    The Department also received a few responses indicating that the company or its predecessor was doing business during the applicable period, and conducted a thorough search of its archives and records, but was unable to find responsive information or documents. A variation of this response was that the insurer routinely destroyed documents beyond a certain age and therefore, had no way of knowing whether or not a slavery era predecessor existed. A permutation of this response was that a slavery era predecessor existed, as evidenced by other corporate archives, but that responsive documents had been lost or destroyed.
    The insurers listed in the report and register, were able to locate and provide the California Department of Insurance, information and/or records responsive to the regulation. To date, the compliance response rate is approximately 92%. The department is continuously in contact with insurers that have either not responded or that have not responded completely.
    Major portions of text from: California Department of Insurance. Slavery Era Insurance Registry Report to the California Legislature. (May 2002). This document is available at: http://www.insurance.ca.gov/docs/FS-SEIR.htm  [Accessed: 7/31/02].

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Slavery Era Documents are photocopies donated by the California Department of Insurance. The documents are arranged in the following two series:


    Series I: Slavery Era Insurance Registry. This series contains one folder, which includes the official report (important when interpreting insurer correspondence) and the Slavery Era Insurance Registry. The registry was created by the California Department of Insurance, from data reported by insurance companies in compliance with SB 2199. The Slavery Era Insurance Registry contains the slave registry and legislation passed by the California Legislature. This legislation establishes guidelines for reporting any records of slave insurance policies issued by any insurance company and its predecessor during the slavery era (defined as prior to 1865). The series also contains a donation letter listing other California institutions and state depositories that received the Slavery Era documents.
    Series II: Insurance Companies. This series includes the insurers responses to California Code of Regulations, Title 10, Section 2394, requiring all insurance companies doing business in California on or after January 1, 200l to submit reports documenting their activity during the slavery era. This series is arranged alphabetically by insurance company names. The container list for this series includes dates (ca. 1800s) of original document copies from insurers and their most current correspondence (2000-2001) with the California Department of Insurance. These documents include correspondence, insurance ledgers, slave premiums, slave policies, minutes from board meetings and some copies of book texts that provide details of insurer policies during the slavery era. Some insurance companies did not write slave policies and had no data to report, while other companies like ACE USA, AIG, AETNA, Manhattan Life, New York Life, Penn Mutual, and Royal & Sun Alliance include more detailed accounts of their companies past participation or non participation of insuring slaves. AETNA submitted copies of seven slave policies that had been written during the late 1840s to 1860. New York Life submitted archival records from its predecessor Nautilus Insurance Company, which includes copies from three separate ledgers, copies from Index of Applicants, and copies from its Death Claim Book, and the following exhibits: Exhibits A-1, Exhibit A-3, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C.
    Additions to the collection are anticipated.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Shepard, Isaac F. (Isaac Fitzgerald), 1816-1889
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--African Americans.

    Related Materials

    Official California Legislative Information website: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/ , maintained by Legislative Counsel. Search this website for more details on SB 2199 and SB 1737 (mandates that the University of California sponsor research colloquia to explore and identify the issues related to the economic legacy of slavery). This legislative database provides bill history, text, votes, and analyses. When searching for SB 2199 and SB 1737 select sessions held during 1999 to 2000.
    Slavery Era Registry

    Includes official report, Slavery Era Insurance Registry, and locations of public viewing rooms in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
    Slavery Era Document Locations
    Copies of the Slavery Era Insurance documents from the California Department of Insurance also are available at: UC- Berkeley, UC-Davis, UC-Los Angeles, UC- San Diego and UC- Santa Cruz, Alameda Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Santa Clara, San Diego and the California State Library in Sacramento.
    Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
    The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999. A comprehensive database that provides information about the 27,233 slave voyages to the New World between 1527 and 1866. This resource is available in UCSB's Davidson Library with the following call number: HT 1322.T656 1999.