Skip to main content
COLLECTION Identifier: Mss:797 1870-1919 E64

Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States records

Records of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, as well as papers relating to the personal activities of its founder, Henry Baldwin Hyde (1834-1899), and his son, James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959).

Dates

  • 1870-1919 (inclusive)
  • Majority of material found within 1869-1906

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials stored offsite; access requires advance notice. Contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Extent

22 linear feet (66 volumes, 13 cases)

Principally correspondence, business and personal, of Henry B. Hyde and his son, James H. Hyde, vice-president of Equitable from 1899 to 1905. The loose material in this collection consists of 13.5 cu. ft. of files from 1870 to 1919, the bulk of which falls between 1870 and 1905. It includes extensive files on setting up and running a life insurance company across the country and around the world. The aspects covered are financial, medical, managerial and political. It also includes a substantial amount of material on safety deposit companies. In addition there is a good deal of information on the founding, outfitting, and running of proprietary and social clubs with much attention given to material detail. Of particular interest are the Jekyll Island Club, the Lawyers' Club, the Underwriters' Club, the Café Voisin (est. 1887) of Paris, the Café Saverin in New York (a proprietary club of the ELAS), and the French Club (le Cercle) at Harvard. Henry B. Hyde and ELAS invested in real estate and there is considerable information on the subject. Finally, both Henry B. Hyde and his son, James, took exceptional interest in outfitting their houses, consequently, the files are filled with detailed information on renovating and decorating. The collection also includes 66 volumes consisting of letter books, memos, and reports.

Historical Note:

The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (ELAS) was founded in 1859 by Henry Baldwin Hyde (1834-1899). It became, by the year of Hyde’s death, the largest life insurance company in the world. Hyde sought to guarantee that his son, James Hazen Hyde (1876-1959), would continue family control of the company after his death, but in 1905 the younger Hyde lost control in a struggle which resulted from an investigation of the insurance industry by New York State.

Series Outline

The collection is arranged into six series: Series I. Hyde family correspondence, 1861-1919, Series II. General correspondence, 1789-1904 (inclusive), 1869-1904 (bulk), Series III. Equitable Life Assurance Society of the Unites States branch files, 1875-1904, Series IV. Administrative files, 1875-1917, Series V. Letterbooks and other bound volumes, 1870-1906, and Series VI. Hyde Stamp Collection, 1894-1897.
Title
Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States records, 1789-1919 (inclusive), 1869-1906 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Author
Baker Library
EAD ID
bak00116

Repository Details

Part of the Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University Repository

Baker Library Special Collections holds unique resources that focus on the evolution of business and industry, as well as the records of the Harvard Business School, documenting the institution's development over the last century. These rich and varied collections support research in a diverse range of fields such as business, economic, social and cultural history as well as the history of science and technology.

Contact:
Baker Library | Bloomberg Center
Soldiers Field Road
Boston MA 01263 USA
(617) 495-6411