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CONSUMERS: SLAVERY ERA INSURANCE REGISTRY

In August 2000 the California legislature found that

"[I]nsurance policies from the slavery era have 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).

Some of the documents on this website are created in Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). To view and use these PDF documents, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 or higher on your computer. A free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader can be downloaded from the Adobe website.

Governor Davis signed the bill (SB2199) into law in September 2000. The statute took effect January 1, 2001. California Code of Regulations, Title 10, Sections 2393 - 2398  implement the statute.

§13810 The Commissioner shall request and obtain information from insurers licensed and doing business in this state regarding any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by any predecessor corporation during the slavery era.

§13811 The Commissioner shall obtain the names of any slaveholders or slaves described in those insurance records, and shall make the information available to the public and the Legislature.

§13812 Each insurer licensed and doing business in this state shall research and report to the Commissioner with respect to any records within the insurer's possession or knowledge relating to insurance policies issued to slaveholders that provided converage for damage to or death or their slaves.

§13813 Descendants of slaves, whose ancestors were defined as private property, dehumanized, divided from their families, forced to perform labor without appropriate compensation or benefits, and whose ancestors' owners were compensated for damages by insurers, are entitled to full disclosure.

Below are links to the Department's report to the California Legislature describing the information received from insurers in response to this statute, including the database of slave and slaveholder names and identifying information.

After the publication of the Department's report on Slavery Era Insurance, New York Life Insurance Company pointed out clarifying information (pdf, 5,347 kb) that it had provided to the Department before the publication of the report.

All reports submitted in response to this statute, together with all documents attached thereto, such as copies of policies, ledgers and documents that discuss slave insurance, can be examined at the Department of Insurance public viewing rooms in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

For both locations, please call in advance to schedule an appointment.

LOS ANGELES

SAN FRANCISCO

300 South Spring Street, 12th Floor Los Angeles, California 90013 213-346-6707 Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm

45 Fremont Street, 23rd Floor San Francisco, California 94105 415-538-4300 Hours: 8:30am - 5pm

The public viewing room staff will photocopy pages for 54 cents per page, or copies can be made through a photocopying service.

In addition to the report and documents made available at the Department, after consultation with the California State Librarian, the Department has sent copies of the slavery era insurance documents we received from the insurers to libraries at the:

  • University of California at Berkeley
  • University of California at Davis
  • University of California at Los Angeles
  • University of California at Santa Barbara
  • University of California at Santa Cruz
  • University of California at San Diego

The documents were also sent to the county public libraries for Alameda, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties and to the California State Library in Sacramento.

The Department copied for the libraries' collections, the reports and documents of those insurers that were in business prior to 1865, when slavery was outlawed.

Please contact the individual libraries for information on when they will make the documents available to the public.

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