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Travelers Insurance records of the 1917 Atlanta fire

 Collection — Location: MSS OS Box 2.109
Collection number: ahc.MSS688f

Scope and Content

This collection contains documents pertaining to the 1917 Atlanta fire and subsequent property damage suffered by Travelers Insurance policy holders. Correspondence includes letters and telegrams between Travelers Insurance and the Cliff C. Hatcher Insurance Agency and Haas & Company. This correspondence discusses insurance policies affected by the fire. There are two legal-sized lists of affected policy holders including their addresses, loan numbers, policy numbers, mortgage amounts, insurance amounts, and associated underwriter companies. Also included is the report prepared and written by the National Board of Fire Underwriters, Committee on Fire Prevention, entitled "Report on the Atlanta Conflagration of May 21, 1917." This report includes details on the origin of the fire, its progress through the city, contributing weather conditions, the response of the fire department and other aid, and the resulting damage after the fire was extinguished. The report also includes fifteen images of the fire, both during and after the event, as well as a map outlining the area consumed by the fire and associated fire incidents in Atlanta on May 21, 1917.


  • 1917, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

This material is protected by copyright law. (Title 17, U.S. Code) Permission for use must be cleared through the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. Licensing agreement may be required.

Administrative/Biographical History

The Atlanta fire of 1917 began at 12:45pm on May 21, 1917, near the corner of Fort Street and Decatur Street. It is believed that the fire was a result of embers blowing in the wind from a fire, which had started at Woodward Avenue and King Street thirty minutes prior. The fire spread quickly due to the overwhelming presence of wood shingle roofs and closely packed shanties downwind. By the time the fire was eventually extinguished at 10:00pm, the Fourth Ward was completely burned. In total, the fire consumed over 300 acres and destroyed 1,983 structures. Of these structures, 1,682 had wood shingle roofs. This prompted the City of Atlanta to pass an ordinance on May 31, 1917, prohibiting wood shingle roofs within the city limits. Among the buildings and homes lost, several churches were destroyed including Grace Methodist Episcopal Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church. Underwriters estimated that the loss of property totaled over $5,000,000. One life was lost due to a heart attack upon seeing her property burned down, but more than 10,000 residents were displaced as a result of the fire.

Travelers Insurance, founded in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1864, offered property and casualty insurance for commercial and residential properties through independent insurance agents and brokers. Two Travelers associated companies in Atlanta in 1917 were Cliff C. Hatcher Insurance Agency and Haas & Company. In 1917, the president of Travelers Insurance was L. F. Butler, and the Manager of Mortgage Land Division was G. B. Newton. In 2011, the company, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, is known as the Travelers Companies, Inc. and is led by C.E.O. Jay S. Fishman. The main predecessor companies comprising the current Travelers Companies, Inc. include the St. Paul Companies, Inc. and Travelers Property Casualty Company.


1 folder(s) (oversize)



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, 1972

Description Control

Collection processed in 2011.

Travelers Insurance records of the 1917 Atlanta fire
Paul Crater
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305