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Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia records
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Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia records

Accession 1930

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library

PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807

Finding aid prepared by Marjorie G. McNinch, 1988,

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-04-30T15:25-0400

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia records (Accession 1930), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807


Descriptive Summary

Title: Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia records
Dates: 1832-1982
Accession Number: 1930
Creator: Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
Extent: 35 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: 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.

Administrative Information


Deposit of the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company

Access Restrictions

Some records subject to 25-year time seal.

Use Restrictions

Literary rights retained by Provident Mutual Insurance Company.

Access Restrictions

Some records under a twenty-five year time seal.


Historical Note

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/employ​ee 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.


Separated Material

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).


Access Points

Advertising departments.
Advertising, Direct-mail.
Advertising, Point-of-sale.
Advertising, Public service.
Advertising--Recruiting and enlistment.
Ashbrook, Joseph, d. 1918.
Ashbrook, William S.
Employees--Training of.
Friends Provident Institution (London, England).
Great Britain--Insurance companies.
Insurance companies--Employees.
Insurance companies--Great Britain.
Insurance companies--Investments.
Insurance companies--Pennsylvania.
Insurance, Group.
Insurance, Health.
Insurance, Life--Agents.
Insurance, Life--Policies.
Insurance, Life--Rates and tables.
Insurance, Life--Tontine policies.
Insurance--Statistical methods.
Linton, M. Albert (Morris Albert), 1887-1966.
Longstreth, William, d. 1882.
Marketing literature.
Office practice.
Pennsylvania--Insurance companies.
Philadelphia (Pa.)--Insurance companies.
Provident Life & Trust Company of Philadelphia.
Provident Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
Public relations--Employers' associations.
Public relations.
Radio programs, Public service.
Sales promotion.
Shipley, Samuel Richards, 1828-1908.
Social security--Law and legislation.
Wing, Asa S. (Asa Shove), 1850-1931.

Series Descriptions and Inventory

I. Corporate Records, 1832-1968
1 Original Act of Incorporation and 3 facsimile copies, 22 March 1865
1 Original Certificate of Incorporation, Incorporation and Capitalization papers, 1863-1870
1 Proposed charter, printed, 1864-1865
1 Charter, printed, 25 March 1865
1 Charter (3 copies) and By-Laws (2 copies), printed, 1877, 1896, 1907, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1923, 1932, 1941, 1945, 1946-1947
1 Original charter amendment, 1866, 1869, 1871, 1873, 1968
1 First Provident Life & Trust Co. check (hereafter referred to as PL&TCo.), 10 July 1865
1 PL&TCo. check, December 1866
1 Mutualization Papers, Corporation name change certificate signed by Pennsylvania secretary, 1921-1922
1 Dr. Charles H. Willits, Medical Director - correspondence re applicants; medical office space requests from agents; medical policy changes; Instructions to Medical Examiners (1918, revised) by PL&TCo. of Philadelphia, 1912-1935
1 House of Delegates (employee group) minutes, 1900-1920
2 Finance Committee minute books, 1876, 1906-1911; 4 volumes
2 Mortality experience, 1866-1883; 1 volume
2 PL&TCo. Death Losses - Matured Endowments, 1866-1889; 1 volume
2 Memos of Cost of Lots & Improvements, N.W. corner of 4th and Chestnut [Philadelphia], undated; bound volume
2 Friends Provident Institution, Annual Reports, 1832-1886; 1 volume
2 Cash Book #1, 1865-1868; oversize
3 Annual Statements, 1870-1900
4 Annual Statements, 1907-1951
4 Annual Investments, 1930-1951
II. General Agent's Files, 1867-1980
5 General Agents Convention Proceedings, 1931-1935
5 Provident Mutual Leaders Association meetings, 1960, 1962-1963, 1966, 1968
5 General Agents and Managers Leaflet Book, 1960
6 Agents rate books, bound copy rate books, 1865-1953
6 Agents handbooks and manuals, 1867-1926
6 Cincinnati Agents Policy record, 1916 June-1922 July; oversize
7 Agency records notebook and agents dates book (GA appointments), 1868-1933; bound
7 Special Agents Leaflet Book, Pt. 2, General Section, 1950
7 Insurance Department Agents Agreements, 1867-1873, 1896-1907, 1916-1932
7 Joseph Ashbrook's agents circulars, 1894-1900
7 Joseph Ashbrook letter to Mr. Day (GA) re raise for clerk of $35/month to $50/month, 1895; photostat only
7 “Provident Life & Trust Co. of Philadelphia”, by Robert I. Murray, 1896
7 The Provident Plan of Supplementary Compensation for Agents, 1944, 1947
7 The Provident Retirement Allowance Plan for General Agents, 1948
7 Travel brochures, circa 1940s
7 The Provident Agent , 1936-1947
7 The Provident Score Board, 1935
7 Provident Notes, Vol. 1, 1918
7 Provident Notes, 75th Anniversary/Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., 22 March 1940
7 Provident Notes, New Orleans Convention Number, February 1938
7 1960 Million Dollar Round Table, June 1960
7 "A Corporation with a Soul” by Asa S. Wing, 1917
7 Files on Agents entering New York and Massachusetts, 1866-1913
8 Field Management Newsletter, 1967-1980; bound
8 Management Digest, 1966
9 Collaterals, 1897-1899, 1915
8 Coupons and mortgage agreements, 1900s
8 Contracts and bonds on 4601, Mechanics and Suppliers, 1927-1928
8 Investments, specimen policies, 1913
8 Syndicate agreement, Provident Mutual seal, 1901-1910
III. Personnel Records, 1895-1979
Scope and Content
Personnel records are primarily twentieth century, mainly because training programs were not instituted by PM until 1905.
A. General
10 Agency profiles; 2 volumes
10 Group profiles; 1 volume
10 Agent profiles; 6 pamphlets
10 Agreement of Employees as to Disclosure of Business, Provident Life & Trust Co., 1895-1901; bound
10 “As the Field Sees Us: A Report on PM's inventory of job attitudes”, March 1979
10 "Appraisal for Progress: A Report on PM's Employee Attitude Survey”, December 1979
10 “A Brief Description of Home Office Depts. for the use of new employees & visitors”, undated; 3 pages, typed
10 Brochure advertising PM's Retirement Plan Sales Manual
10 In Their Country's Service, 1917-1918; 2 volumes
10 Letters to servicemen, 1945
10 George D. Wood, Letters to Provident Service Personnel World War II, 1944-1945; 1 volume
10 Cornerstone Honor Roll: Agents who in February, March and April paid for a total for $30,000 or more of insurance, 16 May 1927
10 Joseph Ashbrook letter to W.G. Day re the advisability of employing a woman as a clerk, 8 March 1899; photostat
10 Travel expense account kept by W.F. Grace, 1946
10 Pamphlets - “Here's How at Provident Mutual,” a secretary's and stenographer's manual by Doris Russell
10 Pamphlets - “Home Office Rules and Regulations”
10 Pamphlets - “Our Business Correspondence... Can We Improve It?” by Mabel S. Marsh
10 Pamphlets - "You and Provident Mutual”, 1950, 1958, 1960, 1964, 1970
B. Recruitment and Training
11 Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. Trainer's Conference Guide--Intermediate (notebook) with attached letter, E.B. Clark, Jr. to Mrs. Adams, 30 June 1973
11 You...Life Insurance and the Provident Mutual, undated; notebook
11 The Provident Mutual Training Course [Young Men and Women/Provident Mutual; Chart for Living; Income Protection; Juvenile], 1948
11 “The Provident Plan”
11 “You are important people”
11 Career Sales Development Program--Basic I and Basic II; 2 notebooks
11 Training seminar time schedule; 3 pages
11 New Agent's Career Development Kit [Career Opportunities with PM; Career Opportunities at PM]
11 Recruiting pamphlets - "Salesmanship” by Dr. Frank Crane, 1913
11 Recruiting pamphlets - "A Worthwhile Career”
11 Recruiting pamphlets - “The Acquisition of An Agent”, 1958
11 Recruiting pamphlets - "Recruiting Aids”, undated
11 Recruiting pamphlets - "Career Opportunity”
11 "The Time for Decision," ; text of slideshow
IV. Advertising and Sales Records, 1870-1982
Scope and Content
Advertising and sales records are relatively complete and document a national ad campaign launched by Provident Mutual in 1923.
A. Sales Records
12 Sales promotion literature, 1920-1969
12 Sales reply cards, booklets and leaflets, 1910-1919
12 Broker promotional material, 1970
12 Annual statements of a promotional nature, 1870-1919
12 A Guidebook to Early Production, undated
12 A Salesbook for Continued Production, 1933
12 Publications of M. Albert Linton, PM Vice President
12 Instructions to Medical Examiners, PL&TCo., 1907
12 The Providor Visual Sales Talk, undated
12 Agents Kit Book, 1920s
12 The Provident Mutual Cash Register, 1982
B. Advertising Records
13 Sales promotion material, 1900s
13 Testimonials, claims, and stories, 1940-1941
13 Provident proposals; forms in notebook
13 My Campus Market, undated
13 Campus Advertising, 1958-1965
13 Campus Prestige kit, undated
13 Early Ads
13 Ads - New Agents-Relocation
13 Ads - Professional Men & Associations
13 Individual Representative ads
13 Ads - General
13 Ads honoring agents
13 Campus recruiting ads
13 Ads - unnamed
14 Magazine ad proofs, 1923-1936, undated
14 Annual statements--Philadelphia newspaper ad proofs, 1888-1891, 1935-1957
14 “Story behind the Claim” radio script
14 Radio spots, 1934
14 Survey results and comment from the field
14 “PM is on the Air” radio spot
14 APPS Kit - ad brochures, 1975
14 Direct Mail Handbook, 1979
14 Agent Co-op ad analysis, 1970-1971
14 Agency Management Handbook: Prestige advertising, 1970; 2 copies
14 College handbook of newspaper advertising, 1969-1973
14 Directed Markets Programs, 1970-1972
14 Agent Co-op Ad Program, 1969-1975
14 Agency and Group Bulletin Boards, 1982
14 Trade journal ads, 1950s, 1971-1974, 1976
14 Provident Mutual window displays, 1937
14 Broker Ad and Mailer Program, 1977-1978
14 Pamphlets - “What every businessman should know about pension and profit sharing plans”
14 Pamphlets - “Introducing PM's 6 Golden Rules for...”
14 Pamphlets - “Newspaper Advertisements”
15 Provident Mutual early advertising, 1904, 1919-1923
V. Centennial, 1956, 1966
Scope and Content
Consists of material collected for the centennial.
A. Centennial Dinner
16 Centennial Dinner Program, 1956
16 100th Anniversary memos, recommendations, budgets, 1956
16 Printing plates for 100th Anniversary dinner, 1956
16 Correspondence re Centennial, 75th Anniversary folder, 1956
16 Centennial commemorative blotters, 1956
16 Provident Mutual Centennial Celebration scrapbook, 1956
B. Subject Card File
Scope and Content
Consists of Robert Flemming's history notes for Provident Mutual's centennial publication.
17 “The Co. moves to 46th St.” (extracts from local newspapers)
17 Provident plus points
17 Highlights of years 1953-1964
17 Officers, 1906-1931
17 Key employees
17 50th Anniv. Celebration
17 The Get-Together Meetings
17 Advent of Provident Notes
17 Mutualization
17 General Agents Association
17 Special Agents Meetings
17 Field Education & Training
17 Recruiting techniques
17 The J.A. Club
17 Development of portfolio
17 Correspondence Dept.
17 Development of Between Ourselves
17 Birth of Printing Dept.
17 Addressograph
17 The Night Men, 1926
17 M. Albert Linton
17 Office equipment
17 Provident library
17 Legal Dept.
17 Actuarial Dept.
17 Women in Business
17 Office Efficiency
17 Job Evaluation
17 Employee Merit Rating
17 Mail Room
17 The Cooperative Store
17 Salaries
17 Capitalization increase, 1917
17 H.O. Education
17 H.O. activities, chorus, etc.
17 1922 on
17 H.O. Working Hours
17 Athletic Assn.
17 Mrs. Tomson & diners
17 H.O. Buildings
18 Thomas A. Bradshaw
18 The Nation, 1906-1914
18 The Nation, 1914-1917
18 World War I Field Club
18 Influenza Epidemic
18 The Nation, 1919
18 Agents Benefit Program
18 Policy Owners
18 Chart for living
18 Field Club
18 Provident 25-year Club
18 Underwriting Division
18 The Roaring 20s
18 The Aftermath, 1930-31
18 Asa S. Wing
18 General Agents & Mgrs Assn.
18 Field Force after 1900
18 The General Agencies
18 The Nation Depression
18 World War II
18 Dev. of L.I. business from 1931
18 Agency & P.O. publications
18 Medical Dept.
18 Publications Section
18 Treasures Dept.
18 Mortgage Loan Dept.
18 Insurance Operations
18 Accounting Dept.
18 Production levels, 1931-53
18 Policy equipment, 1931-53
18 Zone Plan of agency contacts
18 Persistency
18 Advertising Agcy & Co.
18 Evolution of Employee Benefits
18 Provident Leaders Club, 1930 -
18 Provident Round Table, 1939-
18 Provident Round Table, to, 1961
18 Regional Meeting, 1938
18 Company officers, 1931-53
18 Field Force, 1931-53
18 The Provident Spirit
18 Developing professionalism
18 CLU movement
18 75th Anniversary, 3/22/40
18 Samuel R. Shipley
18 Joseph Ashbrook
18 Early Co. history (Per. Accts)
18 The Nation, 1865-1980
18 Early field force
18 1st meeting of Special Agents
18 The Agencies
18 Early Officers of the Co.
18 Annual Reports, 1865-1905
18 Annual Reports, 1906-22
18 Annual Reports, 1931-52
18 Annual Reports, 1953-64
VI. Miscellaneous
19 Acceptance of Risk by Security Insurance and Annuity Co., 8 December 1865
19 Samuel Shipley - Asa S. Wing job letters, 1867; 3 items
19 Letters to Asa S. Wing recalling organizational efforts, 1908
19 Friends Provident letter, 1863
19 Reinsurance correspondence, 1870
19 Economy Campaign, Suggestions for H.O. economies, 1917
19 Federal Reserve Stockholder Certification, 1919
19 Papers re moving of securities, 8 April 1928
19 Corporate Name Change certificate signed by Pennsylvania Secretary, with pen used to sign it, 29 January 1945; oversize pen holder included
19 Calendar brochures, pocket calendars, 1936-1977
19 Envelopes of PM agents
19 Illustrated ink blotters
19 Edward Snowdon - application and first PL&TCo. policy, 31 July 1865; original and photostat
19 Edward Snowdon - proof of death certificate, 6 February 1872; original and photostat
19 Emma Hatfield, insurance application, 1870; photostat only
19 Gilbert Hatfield, Physician's report, 2 December 1870; photostat
19 John Frederick List, PL&TCo. 24th policy holder, original policy, 3 October 1865
19 Henry C. McIlvaine, insurance policy, 1879; photostat
19 William Patten, original policy, 1867; oversize
19 Paul Schenck, first policy sold in North Carolina to Margaret A. Schenck, 1912; photostat
19 Justus Sinexon, M.D., original insurance policy, 8 September 1895
19 “Victory Liberty Loan,” pamphlet by Philadelphia National Bank, 1919
19 War Chest news article and publications, 1919
19 The Liberty Line news bulletins, 1918-1919
19 War Savings Bulletin , 30 Dec. 1918
19 The Thrift Spirit, 1919-1921
19 Blueprints, History Room Plan, Casement drawings
19 Agreement between Isabella Donohue & PL&TCo., for ground rent at Montrose & 22nd, Philadelphia, 24 September 1900
19 Letter, William Conant, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Dept. to Asa S. Wing, 1876 November 13
19 “The Foundation of Life Insurance...” diagram of insurance scale, PL&TCo., 1870
19 Statement of business, PL&TCo., 1868
19 Presidential biographies; 6 items
19 Types statements by early PL&TCo. organizers
19 “Strange letters” file, 1870-1886, 1944
19 Provident firsts, handwritten notes on cards, 1866-1910
20 Actuarial Society of America, Vol. III, No. 29, 1903
20 Survey report on company operations, 1946
20 Tables of Monetary Insurance & Endowment Units by W. C. Wright, 1904
20 Valuation Tables by Elizur Wright, 1871
20 Elizur Wright Treatise: “A Curiosity of Law”, 1866
20 Elizur Wright letters, 1866-1867
20 Savings Bank Life Insurance with illustrative tables by W.C. Wright, 1872
20 Tables of Single & Joint Life Annuities--Male & Female, 1904
21 PM Publications - Campus Notes, 1956
21 PM Publications - The Cornerstone Honor Roll, Speeches, 1927 May 16
21 PM Publications - “Important Dates Respecting Changes in the Company's Practices”, circa 1917; 3 copies
21 PM Publications - “A Low Death Rate, PL&TCo., 1865-1915”
21 PM Publications - Laying of Cornerstone Program, May 16 1927
21 PM Publications - “The New Home of Provident Mutual”
21 PM Publications - “The PL&TCo. of Philadelphia”, 1871, 1878
21 PM Publications - “PL&TCo. Profile”, 1909
21 PM Publications - “The PL&TCo., 1865-50 Years-1915”
21 Provident Mutual: A Centennial Portrait by Robert Fleming
21 PM Publications - “The Provident Policy Owner”, 1932-1937
21 PM Publications - “70 Years of Provident Progress”
21 PM Publications - “75 Years of Provident Protection”
21 "," 1955-1956
21 Other Publications - Behind the Scenes of a Great Business, 1926, 1937
21 Related Publications - A Synopsis of Life Insurance Business since 1870 by W. W. Byington, 1877
21 Related Publications - Tables for 1889-- [based on the results of Tontine Policies maturing in 1889]
21 Related Publications - War Risks compiled by Edward Bunnell Phelps, 1898
21 Related Publications - The Financier, Vol. 6, No. 20, 1877 May 14
21 Related Publications - The Standard, 1890 June 21
21 Related Publications - U.S. Review, 1892 December 24
22 New York State Legislative Assembly Committee - “Condition of L.I. Co.'s of State of New York”, 1877-1907; 2 volumes
22 New York investigation of insurance rates and fees, 1948-1951
22 Scrapbook - Samuel R. Shipley, 1900
22 Scrapbook - Asa S. Wing, 1917
22 Scrapbooks - M.A. Linton; 2 volumes
22 ","
22 Annual Reports, 1865-1867, 1870-1878, 1914-1964
22 The Christian Spectator, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1 February 1824
22 Sur l'application des Procedes Graphiques aux calculs d'assurances by Rene Poussin, undated