The Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia was incorporated December 22, 1794. The organizational meeting was held in December of 1795 and policies began to be written in March 1796. The complete collection of policies of the Society from 1796 to 1867 (31,138 policies) are now in the possession of the Library of Virginia. These policies are available to researchers on twenty-three reels of microfilm, Accession number 30177. The Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission created a paper index for these policies. In 1993, the Center for Historic Preservation at The University of Mary Washington, completed computerizing this index.
To understand the breadth of materials available about the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia a researcher may wish to review the Accession Listing from A Guide to the Business Records in the Virginia State Library and Archives compiled by Conley L. Edwards, Gwendolyn D. Clark, and Jennifer D. McDaid. Richmond: Virginia State Library and Archives, 1994. Pp. 105-109. This document is reproduced with express written permission of the Virginia State Library and Archives.
An explanation of the fields of information available in the database will help a researcher understand what kinds of research is possible.
To understand the descriptions that these policies contain read the Instructions provided to enumerators in 1806.
A glossary to abbreviated terms is available.
Dr. David Ayersman of the Center for Instructional Technology at The University of Mary Washington has mounted a database containing all 31,138 records. The server allows you to use a version of FileMaker Pro 4.0 over the internet. Once you are in the database select the search bar at the top of the window. This will open a criteria screen that allows you to specify what criteria (last name, first name, policy number, year of policy, or abbreviation for building type) you wish to find. The default display in table view limits how many fields you be able to scroll to see, but for any record that you wish to see the full contents select form view and a tabular record of just that entry will be displayed. You may return to this screen for an explanation of the information each field includes.
To use this index requires patience. With such a large database you can expect to wait perhaps a minute before a search is complete. Traffic on the Internet will make loading the database and interacting with it very slow, especially in the afternoon (Eastern Standard Time). However, the system operator for the server that carries the database has changed the configuration so the initial view is for a single record. This should help the load time and reduce the possibility of being timed out. If you desire to see all the records in numerical policy order choose table view and the records will be visible twenty-five records in each screen.
To begin to search the Mutual Assurance Policy Index please mash this button then scroll to the database "MAS.fp5".
If you prefer, or if you have difficulty accessing this database you can right-click the download button and bring the data to your machine as a tab-delimited text file and open the file in your spread sheet program. Be certain to set your fields to text before you open this file in Microsoft Excel or it will assume all dates are twentieth century. download
If you are researching a property in Fredericksburg, Virginia, you might want to use this table of the Mutual Assurance policies written for buildings within the corporation or within a mile of the town. These policies were written between 1796 and 1857. As a table in html it is a very large file, it could be timed out on a slow connection. Fredericksburg
Last Update: 13 March 2011
Name: Gary Stanton, Dept of Historic Preservation
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