Security Benefit Life Insurance Company records
This collection includes records and photographs from the Security Benefit Life Insurance Company, a fraternal beneficiary society that evolved into a life insurance company over the 20th century. Records include financial information and reports, administrative and legal documents, insurance rate books, correspondence and contracts regarding two organizations' merger to become Security Benefit, promotional information, manuals, and documentation regarding the building of a hospital on office grounds in Topeka, Kan.
- Creation: 1892 - 1992
- Security Benefit Life Insurance Company (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
No access restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
Administrative History of the Security Benefit Life Insurance Company
The Security Benefit Life Insurance Company was chartered in Topeka, Kansas in 1892 as the Knights and Ladies of Security. This early fraternal beneficiary society followed the model established by other successful fraternal societies in existence at that time. Local lodges called Councils were established and sent representatives to the governing body, the National Council. By 1895 there were 10,770 members and by 1896, 9 states were being served by the organization. These early Councils were highly ritualistic with elaborate ceremonies, uniforms, and secret passwords and held well attended social functions for members.
The first National President to hold office for an extended length of time was William B. Kirkpatrick, who served from 1896 to 1916. He was succeeded by his son, James M. Kirkpatrick. The National Secretary was another important post in the organization. John V. Abrahams served in that capacity from 1893 to 1940 and was in turn succeeded by his son, J. H. Abrahams, who was appointed Secretary-Treasurer by the Association. In 1953 he became Executive Vice President; two years later he became President and served in that capacity until June 1975, when he was elected Chairman of the Board.
The society grew steadily and in 1916 a Commission was authorized to consider the creation of a facility to care for orphans, invalids and aged members. In 1917 the Knights and Ladies of Security Home and Hospital Association was established to administrate these services. Land was purchased outside of Topeka and in 1918 work began on a two-story dormitory. Eventually the facility grew to include a working farm, orphanage, home for the elderly, hospital, and clinic.
The Knights and Ladies of Security merged with the National Americans Association of Kansas City in 1919 and effective Oct. 1 of that year, the name of the society was officially changed to the Security Benefit Association.
Two world wars and a major depression had a great impact on fraternal societies throughout the United States. World War I and the Great Depression led to increases in the number of claims and reevaluation of benefits offered. In the period following World War II, societal norms changed, bringing about a different life style for many Americans. Greater mobility contributed to less interest in fraternal social functions, and the laws regulating life insurance companies became more strict.
Fraternal organizations were therefore forced to make changes. After 1948, the National Council took steps to bring the Association closer to being a life insurance company. The transformation was complete by Jan. 1, 1950. Security Benefit ceased to be a fraternal benefit society and became the Security Benefit Life Insurance Company.
In the years following mutualization, new avenues of business were developed and the company grew rapidly to become the largest life insurance company headquartered in Kansas. Security Benefit Life celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1992.
11 Linear Feet (22 boxes + 3 oversize boxes, 7 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
RH MS 534
RH MS-P 534
RH Misc. 12
RH AD 9
RH MS R403
RH MS R536
Other Finding Aids
Inventory of the records located at RH MS 534 is available as a pdf: ksrl.kc.securitybenefit.ead.pdf.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Security Benefit Life Insurance Company.
- Guide to the Security Benefit Life Insurance Company Collection
- Security Benefit Life Insurance Company records
- Finding aid prepared by rs, 1993. Finding aid compiled by mg, 2004; revised by kl, mnm, 2016.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid writtenin<language> English.</language>
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Security Benefit Life Insurance Company Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 534, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.