[Mutual Relief Society of Rochester, N.Y. Archive].
1889–1891 Life insurance circulars with assessment notices, financial reports, and testimonials
Archive of notices of assessment issued by The Mutual Relief Society of Rochester, N.Y. Founded in 1879, the society was what was termed an “assessment association,” a type of life insurance plan.¹
Every month members would receive a circular comprising a formal notice of assessment, here typically $2.40/month, and a deadline to make payment. They were informed of the members who died, received reports on the overall state of the society’s funds and testimonials from beneficiaries whose claims had been promptly paid, as well as other news. Other topics discussed in the circulars are dividends, reasons for extra assessments, statements of the “Benefit Fund,” changes to the by-laws, and advertising for The Mutual Relief Society. Each circular is signed and dated by the local secretary.
Interestingly, each month’s assessment (sometimes they were doubled) and other fees are printed beneath the return address of the Mutual Relief Society, right on the transmittal page.
The present circulars—all from 1889 to 1891—are addressed to a Mr. S.G. Austin of Catskill, New York. They are accompanied by 18 postal cards from 1879 to 1887, also addressed to Austin, concerning his various business concerns which include dealing in currants and apples, a paper mill, and insurance.
Austin was associated with the Hope Paper Mill near Catskill which made press board. Six postal cards seen here, sent from various places in New York mention “press papers”; “Press board”; “Bonnet board paper, so called”; and “straw” [wrapping paper].²
Three postal cards touch on Austin’s insurance work: one from 1879 references an assessment and the cancelation of a policy; one from 1884 references “Farmer[s] of Catskill” (an insurance company for which Austin later served as secretary); and one from 1883 concerning a subscription to the Insurance Law Journal.³
A trade card in the archive from G.S. Palmer, wholesale fruit and produce commission merchant in New York City, may refer to an insurance society for fruit growers and dealers. The handwritten message on the card is an itemized list of dollar figures mentioning a “Special meeting of Directors” and “Secretary’s fees” as well as referring to appraisals, “Commission for collection,” and “Delinquents.”
Interesting archive of insurance circulars sent to one person with related postal card communications and a trade card.
Description: [Mutual Relief Society of Rochester, N.Y. Archive].
Rochester and New York, New York, 1879–1887 and 1889–1891. Approx.  pages including some manuscript. 18 Postal Cards (some partly printed), 1 undated trade card, and 22 printed Circulars with integral address leaves (bifoliums). Circulars with transmittal folds; minor wear or soiling to circulars and postal cards; overall, very good.
Note. 1. Hand-Book of Life and Accident Insurance on the Mutual Natural Premium Plan… (New York, 1891), pp111, 166, and 175. 2. Lockwood’s Directory of the Paper and Stationery Trades…1887-8 (New York, 1887), p137. 3. The Insurance Year Book. 1903-1904… (New York, 1903), p254.
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