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Insurance Records - Polish White Eagle Association
Two databases
1) PWEA Death Claims Database (1,055 records) and
2) PWEA Closed Files Non-Death Claims Database (1,962 records)

Insurance records available at the Immigration History Research Center, Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

History of Polish White Eagle Association
The Polish White Eagle Association (PWEA), a fraternal organization, was established in the autumn of 1906. According to the historical account written for the PWEA Diamond Jubilee publication, the organization had three stated objectives: 1) To promote unity and fraternity within it’s community; 2) To openly express loyalty and appreciation to their adopted country, the United States of America, and; 3) to make it possible for their fellow members to participate in a program offering death benefits to beneficiaries designated in their plan and later in their policies, at low premiums.

In 1926 the organization filed its official “Articles of Incorporation” in the state of Minnesota and the PWEA was allowed to sell insurance as a corporation. At that time, insurance policies with the association were available only to persons who were Roman Catholic and of Slavic origins. This was later changed to accept memberships from all Christians. Policies were written primarily for residents of Minnesota.

At one time, the Polish White Eagle Association had 3,000 members and was organized into groups with each group holding its own meetings and social activities. Each group had a set of officers to determine its activities and responsibilities.

The Polish White Eagle Association later became known as the Eagle Fraternal Life Association. It reflected a change of direction which opened membership to a more diverse clientele and started insurance groups for Hmong, Liberians, Chicano, Gambian and Anuak clients. Finally, in the fall of 2001 it merged into the Degree of Honor Protective Association.

Following that merger, the older Polish White Eagle insurance records were donated to the Immigration History Research Center. For more information on the Immigration History Research Center, log onto the IHRC website.

CAVEAT: These databases are not complete and represent only those PWEA insurance records received and stored at the Immigration History Research Center.

The Death Claims Database
The fields of the database are as follows: surname; first and middle names; claim number; policy number; date of claim; date of death; and age. The first record in this claim collection is dated 1938 and the last death claim record found in the database is dated 1993. There are gaps in the death claim records for years prior to 1938, for the years 1952 through 1969, and the years 1975 -1976.

Content of the Insurance Death Claims Envelopes
Generally there were four basic records included in the claim envelope.
1) Application for membership. The very early insurance applications are three pages in length. Later the application form increased to four pages. The first page contains personal information about the applicant, including the place of birth. Pages 2 and 3 contain the examining doctor’s report including standard medical questions. Page 4 contains administrative information and payment tables.
2) Death Certificate.
3) Policy Certificate.
4) Death Claim Form.

The envelope may also contain miscellaneous documents. Examples are: newspaper obituary notices; correspondence on a variety of matters (some letters are still in the original stamped envelope); funeral bills; Raport Smierci (PWEA Group Report); double indemnity form if applicable; payment (dues) books in a 3 inch by 5 inch format; change of beneficiary forms; and an occasional probate document.

The Closed Files, Non-Death Claim Database
This database indexes Polish White Eagle Association insurance records of policies closed, that is, they are no longer in effect or active. The records in this database are different and separate from the policy records where there was a death claim. The policies in this index were closed because they matured, lapsed, were surrendered, were rejected, were expelled, or closed for other reasons. The files primarily consist of the original application and/or the formal insurance certificate.

Copyright © 2009 John Rys. All rights reserved.
Used by PGSA with permission of the copyright owner.
 
 
 
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