Using the Collection

Digitized items in the Golden State Mutual collection can be accessed through the UC Calisphere platform. Physical items are available for research and are located in our off-site storage facility (Southern Regional Library Facility). Request physical items using the "Special Collections Request" links in the UC Library Search catalog record. View our video tutorial or contact Library Special Collections for more help on how to request items.

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About the Collection

The Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded on July 23, 1925 in Los Angeles by William Nickerson Jr., George A. Beavers, Jr. and Norman O. Houston. Their mission was to provide dignified employment for African Americans and to provide them with insurance protection. Golden State Mutual operated for 84 years and grew to become one of the largest Black-owned companies in the United States. The collection spans from 1909 to 2009 and consists of minutes books, annual reports, corporate history files, ledgers, public relations and advertising files, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, plans, reports, agreements, manuals, policy specimens, Certificates of Contribution and Advancement, publications, files about the company's historical murals and Afro-American art collection, architectural drawings, awards, memorabilia, and audiovisual materials.


Golden State Mutual founder William Nickerson, Jr. moved to Los Angeles from Texas in 1921 as an official representative of the Texas-based insurance company American Mutual Benefit Association. When he arrived in California, he soon discovered that the state's existing insurance agencies viewed its 40,000 Black citizens as either uninsurables or extraordinary risks. Black residents were only accepted at discriminatory premium rates, or denied insurance coverage altogether.

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