From the Archives: Featured Document


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By Adina Brizel

The Baltimore Life Insurance Company, founded in 1830, issued this list of rates of insurance during the presidency of John Donaldson, who was also one of the company’s directors. Although the exact year of this document is unknown, it is correct to assume it is dated before the Civil War.

Baltimore Life Insurance CompanyDue to pre- Civil War Maryland being a slave state, there is a specific section which mentions insurance rates that one can pay for one’s slaves. A table lists the rates of insurance of $100 on the life of a slave. The youngest slaves, starting at age 14, can be insured for a premium of $1.28 a year and a $1.54 premium per annum over seven years. The age caps out at 60, where one must pay a premium of $5.65 a year and $6.16 per annum over seven years.

Baltimore Life Insurance CompanyThis document notes that one is required to pay extra premiums for “Negroes employed in Engineer service, Coal Pits and Steamboats.” In addition, the rates were lower for white customers.

Baltimore Life Insurance Company

Thomas J. V. Cullen, Sr. Collection Donated to the Davis Library

The estate of Thomas J. V. Cullen of Orange County New York donated 47 boxes of his personal papers and books to the Kathryn and Shelby Collum Davis Library in April, 2015. Mr. Cullen passed away on May 22, 1966 in Washington D.C.

He received an A.B. degree from Fordham University, New York, NY in 1911. From 1913 to 1929 he was a statistician with The Spectator, an insurance publication in New York. He was editor of the Spectator from 1929 to 1961 and then editor in chief of that publication.

Mr. Cullen was also president of the Callen Farms Printing Company of Jeffersonville, New York; publisher of The Sullivan County record, a weekly newspaper of Jeffersonville, an a senior partner of the Thomas J. V. Cullen Insurance Agency of Goshen, N.Y.

He was actively involved in politics on the local and national level as well. He was the Orange County. N.Y. Democratic chairman from 1935 to 1953, and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from 1940 to 1952.

From the Archives: A. Leslie Leonard Collection

A. Leslie Leonard (1914-2011) was the first president of The College of Insurance from the College’s inception in 1962 until his retirement in 1984. This collection contains materials about and by Dr. A. Leslie Leonard, and his career as the first president of The College of Insurance, including biographical information, photographs, articles both by and about Leonard, and transcripts of speeches he gave at numerous conferences and awards dinners. This collection also contains a bound copy of his Ed.D. dissertation on the founding of The College of Insurance.

View the Finding Aid

A. Leslie Leonard

The Davis Library is moving


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As you may be aware, St. John’s University’s Manhattan Campus, including the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library, will be relocating to 101 Astor Place (aka 51 Astor Place building).

The Library’s space at Astor Place is brand new but also limited. To fit most of our resources in the new space, we must rearrange our entire 112-year-old collection.  As we reorganize, we will also be taking the opportunity to reevaluate the Library’s services, procedures, and operating costs. As a result, the Davis Library will be closed to students, faculty, members and the general public from May 15th to August 3rd, 2014. Limited access and services will be provided only to students and faculty participating in summer classes at the new Manhattan Campus.

Please note the following changes related to our relocation:


·    A small part of the collection will be sent to an off-site facility.

·    Most of the collection will be transferred to the new location and distributed between the 2nd and concourse floors of the new campus.

·    The 2nd floor will be the public access area, with open stacks; the concourse area will be closed to the public and accessible only by staff. Most frequently used resources will be located on the 2nd floor. The rest will be in the concourse, including the journals/magazines, the historical collection, the Archives and rare books, and the subject files. All realia will also be in the concourse.


·    As of today, the Davis Library has temporarily suspended new memberships or renewals as we evaluate this part of our public service operations. Any changes to our membership policy will be announce early this fall.

·    Memberships that expire after May 14, 2014, a three month extension will be granted at no additional cost once we reopen.

New Address.

·    Our new address will be:

Davis Library
101 Astor Place
New York, NY 10003

·    Send mail to our new location only after June 16, 2014.

Books on Loan, OCLC Requests and Donations.

·    Please do not send books or OCLC requests to the Library between May 12 and June 16. After June 16, send borrowed books, OCLC requests, or donations to our new address at 101 Astor Place.

·    No fines or overdue charges will be levied during this period.


·    Telephone and fax numbers will remain the same.


The staff and Library’s email will remain the same.

·    Ismael Rivera-Sierra (
·    Richard Waller (
·    Galina Spicehandler (
·    Andrew Seville (
·    Davis Library (


·    During our reorganization, we expect to post more than 25,000 holdings to OCLC. Currently less than 15% of the Library’s holdings appears on OCLC. We estimate that in the future there will remain an additional 20,000 titles that will require posting to OCLC.


·    We expect to add to our online catalog approximately 15,000 analytical records of articles published in journals, magazines, books, and proceedings. Currently our online catalog contains 36,500 analytical records from sources dating back to the 1880’s.

“First Insured” by Peter R. Thibeault


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Image“First Insured”

By Peter R. Thibeault

Boston, Massachusetts

© September 19, 1990

The schooner A.F. Thorne was the first vessel insured by the Atlantic Mutual Companies in 1842. In 1990, the Atlantic Mutual Companies commissioned artist Peter R. Thibeault to create this ship hull of the A.F. Thorne. This piece is now on display at the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Library at St. John’s University.


From the Archives: Records of the Special Commitee on Black Tom Island


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The Records of the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster are now available for research at the Davis Library, St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. To view these materials, please make an appointment.

Black Tom Island

Source: Report On Explosion at Black Tom, N.J., July 30, 1916, by Colonel B.W. Dunn, Chief Inspector of The Bureau of Explosives. February 1, 1917. Photograph No. 3, page 7.

The Black Tom Island explosion occurred off the coast of New Jersey on July 30, 1916. Soon after, a group of insurance companies organized the Special Committee on Black Tom Island Disaster to make sabotage claims against Germany. The case was heard by the German-American Mixed Claims Commission and Germany was originally found not liable, but after a rehearing in 1939, several Germans were found responsible for the explosion. The result was a settlement of $50 million to be paid out to a group of 72 insurance companies. This collection includes newspaper clippings, Committee meeting minutes, correspondence, briefs on the hearings, damage reports, auditors’ reports, account books, bank statements, and additional records from 1916 to 1969.

From the Archives: Records of the CPCU Society – New York Chapter


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The Records of the CPCU Society – New York Chapter are now available for research at the Davis Library, St. John’s University Manhattan Campus. For more information please visit our website, or contact us to make an appointment to visit the archives.

The Society of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriters (CPCU) was founded in 1944 in the interest of promoting professional ethics through fellowship and continuing education. Members are required to pass CPCU examinations, meet experience qualifications, and uphold the Society’s code of professional ethics. In 1994, the organization became known as the CPCU Society. The New York chapter was established on March 5, 1945. The chapter co-sponsors meetings with other professional insurance organizations and sponsors educational forums and other events that advance continuing professional development.

These records include meeting minutes and agendas from monthly Board of Directors and Officers meetings, correspondence, memoranda, press releases, reports, newsletters, programs and other publications generated by the New York chapter, other chapters, and the national organization. The collection also includes photographs and awards.



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