Racially segregated insurance folders from the early 1960s

My Dad tried and failed to make a living as an insurance salesman back in the early and mid-1960s.  When he left the business, he took with him a bad taste in his mouth and dozens of “Portfolios for an up-to-date Twentieth Century Security Program.”

These were rather clever little folders in which the insured was urged to keep information about insurance records and other important documents.  After my Dad died and my Mom moved into a retirement home, I saved these envelopes, partly out of nostalgia, and partly because I thought they might come in handy.

The folders never came in handy and my need for closet space has outweighed any lingering nostalgia.  Keeping the folders won’t bring either my Dad or my childhood back.  I therefore decided to throw them out.

Before throwing out the folders, though, I riffled through them to make sure that none actually held any of my Dad’s insurance or tax records.  Those would have been historically interesting, but none existed.

What I did notice as I thumbed through the folders was that not all of them had the same photos.  It took me a second to figure out what was going on.  Back in 1963 and 1964, when Twentieth Century (part of the Prudential Insurance Company) was printing up these handy-dandy folders, it prepared segregated versions, one for its black customers and one for its white ones.

There’s nothing demeaning about the black images.  As with the white ones, they have nice homes, sweet children, proud-graduates, and well-insured sick people in nice hospital beds.  It’s just that, both the folders confine themselves strictly to one race.

Here — see for yourself (and click on the images to make them larger):

White Insurance folders

Black insurance folders

I wonder whether Asian families got the black or the white version….