Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia recordsCreation: 1832-1982
The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company was organized by a group of Philadelphia Quakers in 1865, and by World War I it had become one of the largest life insurance companies in the country with a strong presence in the New York and Boston markets. The records of the Provident Mutual Insurance Company of Philadelphia are a collection of fragments assembled by the Advertising Department in connection with the company's centennial history.
- Creation: 1832-1982
- Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia (Organization)
35 Linear Feet
The Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company was organized by a group of Philadelphia Quakers in 1865, and by World War I it had become one of the largest life insurance companies in the country with a strong presence in the New York and Boston markets.
The Provident Life & Trust Company of Philadelphia was incorporated on March 22, 1865, and opened for business on July 31, 1865. In addition to the main office staff, the company employed an increasing force of special agents or "canvassers", who moved into New York and Massachusetts in 1866, as well as Maryland, New Jersey, and upstate Pennsylvania.
The Provident Life & Trust prospered through the 1873 national depression, and kept paying annual dividends. PLT also weathered the Armstrong Investigation of the insurance industry in 1906, and was specifically cited for its voluntary limit on expenses and public inspection of its books. That same year Asa Wing became President, and Joseph Ashbrook instituted the first formal training for agents. The training programs for Home Office employees materialized after a PLT Home Office employer/employee relations group was established in 1912. The agency force was organized under the General Agency plan, in which the General Agent directed all agent activities, the manager handled field activities, and the cashier performed all clerical duties. By 1920 two thousand persons were employed in the agency and office work force; forty agencies with five hundred agents were in operation across Americirca
In 1922 the Pennsylvania legislature revised state tax laws affecting mutual life insurance companies, which allowed for an expanded trust business. Provident Life & Trust decided for mutualization and by December 1922 had separate life insurance and trust departments. On December 29, PLT officially changed its name to Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia. In 1923 Provident Mutual undertook a national advertising campaign to stimulate sales. The advertising strategy, which included journal advertising, direct mail and radio programs, became an integral part of Provident Mutual's operation.
In 1931 M. Albert Linton became Provident Mutual's third President. In March 1935 PM distributed a new rate book. Since interest rates on investments had been lower than expected, PM had to increase the gross premium rates on policies by three percent. The Social Security Act became law later that same year. Linton initially opposed the Social Security Act fearing an adverse effect on insurance sales. Sales did not suffer, as the public sought more adequate protection to supplement a savings program. Linton published extensively on Social Security and life insurance. After World War Two, sales increased to over one billion dollars of insurance in force, a level reached once before in 1930. Advertising became decentralized with agents handling advertising in their locale. As PM approached its 100th anniversary, it entered both the health insurance and group insurance fields. Thomas F. Bradshaw became PM's fourth president after Linton retired at the mandatory age of 65 in 1952. In 1969 Edward L. Stanley became President, and John A. Miller succeeded him in 1976.
Provident Mutual developed several in-house publications. For agents there were: Provident Notes, The Scoreboard, The General Agent, and Campus Notes. For employees there was "Between Ourselves". For the policyowners The Policyowner circulated.
On October 1, 2002, Provident became a subsidiary of Nationwide Financial Services, Inc., and was renamed Nationwide Life Insurance Company of America, with the trade name "Nationwide-Provident." At the same time, it was de-mutualized, with policy holders receiving stock or cash payments.
Scope and Content
The records of the Provident Mutual Insurance Company of Philadelphia are a collection of fragments assembled by the Advertising Department in connection with the company's centennial history.
Literary rights retained by Provident Mutual Insurance Company.
Some records under a twenty-five year time seal from the date of creation.
Litigators may not view the collection without approval.
Language of Materials
On Deposit from Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company.
Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia photographs (Accession 1987.237), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library.
Published materials, including the employee magazine are cataloged in our online library catalog.
- Fleming, Robert. Provident Mutual: A Centennial Portrait (Kutztown, Pa. : The Kutztown Publishing Company, 1966).
Finding Aid & Administrative Information
- Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia records
- Marjorie G. McNinch
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