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Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company Collection (1845 - ca. 1990)
RepositoryNewark Public Library, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center
Collection IDMG MBLI Coll.
Size4 file cabinets and 3 boxes
Collection Description
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 it had offices in Boston and on Wall St. in New York City. 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 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 W. 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.

This collection consists mostly of material compiled by Mildred F. Stone, the company's first woman executive, who was also its historian. Stone wrote the centennial history of Mutual Benefit Life, "Since 1854" (Rutgers University Press, 1957). She oversaw anniversary celebrations, including the lavish "Charter Day Celebration" of January 31, 1945, and selected material for display in the Company's "Heritage Room" at 520 Broad Street.

NOTE: The collection is stored offsite; consult staff for access.
Collection Contents
The collection is stored in 4 file cabinets and 3 boxes. Newark-related contents are as follows:

File Cabinet 1, Drawer 1: company brochures and pamphlets; clippings and other material on anniversaries and company buildings; biographical files; exhibit material, including many photographs; and videotapes of speeches by Robert Van Fossan

File Cabinet 1, Drawer 2: material on new building at 520 Broad St., including correspondence on opening ceremonies; biographical files and photos: John S. Thomson, Milford Vieser, and Mildred F. Stone

File Cabinet 1, Drawer 3: exhibit materials, including original documents such as an Executuve Committee report of 1845; binder of material on construction of Military Park parking garage; files on construction and dedication of 520 Broad St.

File Cabinet 1, Drawer 4: annual reports; company publications; scrapbook on centennial celebration; 2 scrapbooks on 520 Broad St.; audiotapes and record of Paul Stillman speaking on the company's decision to remain in Newark (1954)

File Cabinet 2, Drawer 1: multiple copies of charters, annual reports, and other company publications; special 250th Anniversary issue of "The Pelican" (1916)

File Cabinet 2, Drawer 2: exhibit materials, including original historic documents and photographs; Mildred Stone correspondence; early ledgers and company publications

File Cabinet 2, Drawer 3: historical materials, including large format portraits of officers (some by F. Bachrach); memorial scrapbook for MBLI Vice-President Bloomfield J. Miller (ca. 1849-1905)

File Cabinet 2, Drawer 4: exhibit materials; folder of Bachrach portraits of President John S. Thomson

File Cabinet 2, Drawer 5: clippings; newsletters; Christmas cards; ledger, 1845-1849; "Heritage Room" materials; autographed copy of sheet music of company song, "My Girls, My Men," by J. P. O'Fake, 1943

File Cabinet 3, Drawer 1: extensive files on MBLI buildings at 191 Market St., 300 Broadway, and 520 Broad St.; original historic photo of interior with staff at the "Marble Building," 750 Broad St.; file of photographs of the "Heritage Room" at 520 Broad St., including a mural By E. Whitefield depicting Newark in 1847

File Cabinet 3, Drawer 2: General Files, C to I, including files on Charter Day, Christmas Cards, Civil War and MBLI, Crash of 1929, Gold Rush, and Heritage Room

File Cabinet 3, Drawer 3: General Files, M to P, including files on company history and buildings, and on Newark history in general; chronological files,1846-1958; photo labeled "Spanish-American War Crowds," a street scene with trolleys and crowds in front of the Newark Theater; copy of an early photo showing Jelliff's furniture shop, 301 Broad St.

File Cabinet 3, Drawer 4: biographical files on officers; files of photos, including celebration of 100th anniversary in 1945

File Cabinet 3, Drawer 5: General Files, Q to Z, including files on World Wars I and II and "War with Spain; binders of press releases and other documents (1932-1945); typescript of "Since 1854"

File Cabinet 4, Drawer 1: mounted color photographs of Newark 300th Anniversary parade; 2 VHS tapes of WNET coverage of death of MBLI President Robert Van Fossan (1989)

File Cabinet 4, Drawer 4: material on 520 Broad St., including correspondence, reports, publicity, and a file on "Labor Problems, regarding a strike of Operating Engineers Local 25 at the building in 1956

File Cabinet 4, Drawer 5: files on 520 Broad St., including correspondence on dedication; material on history of MBLI buildings in Newark

Three boxes contain oversize photographs (portraits, groups, events, aerial views of Newark, etc.), reproductions of documents, newspapers pages, decorative color prints, and artifacts (mostly awards).
FormatsArtifacts; Audio materials; Photographic materials; Textual materials
SubjectBusiness / Commerce
Time Periods19th Century; 20th Century
LanguageEnglish
Access policyOpen for research
Finding AidYes
Finging Aid URLhttps://newarkpubliclibrary.libraryhost.com/repositories/3/resources/186