This month, EC&M celebrates a century of dedication to the electrical industry. As I sit back and reflect on this historic moment, I can't help but feel a sense of overwhelming pride to serve as Editor-in-Chief on EC&M's special 100th anniversary issue. What started out as a simple monthly journal for a newly formed electrical association back in 1901 has flourished into a highly respected technical trade magazine, described by most of you (our loyal readers) today as a “must read” industry publication. This is an honor I won't soon forget.
Before my staff and I reviewed what seemed like an endless supply of back issues and archives in preparation for this special issue, I found it hard to believe that EC&M had published close to 1200 monthly issues in the past 100 years. But after spending countless days in the library turning faded, brittle magazine pages and suffering motion sickness from viewing thousands of feet of microfilm, I soon became a believer. As we began to uncover the rich heritage of our magazine, what amazed me the most is how EC&M survived (even prospered) during difficult times — like the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Great Depression, several wars, and the Energy Crisis of the '70s.
How did the magazine stay on track all these years and not fall by the wayside? It did so through the strength of its editorial team. EC&M has always relied on technically trained electrical personnel, with industry-related real-world experience, to lead its editorial initiatives. Who better to report on industry changes than those who have actually served in its ranks? Through the years, the magazine's mission hasn't changed. Just as it did in 1901, EC&M strives to provide you with authoritative, technical hands-on articles that teach new techniques while reinforcing traditional electrical concepts. That's the EC&M of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The History of EC&M Magazine
The magazine was first published in November 1901 as The National Electrical Contractor, the official trade journal of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Many of the articles in these early issues focused on activities related to the Association and on business issues related to electrical contractors.
In May 1918, the magazine changed its name to the Electrical Contractor-Dealer. As the official journal of the National Association of Electrical Contractors and Dealers (formerly NECA), this “bigger, better journal” promised to “keep the members of the organization well informed on matters pertaining to the association and its activities.” The move to include the word “dealer” in the title was made to mirror the Association's efforts to unite the contracting and merchandising branches of the industry in a common cause — to make electricity a necessity rather than a luxury.
However, the new name didn't last long. In November 1921, the magazine changed names again to the National Electragist, and more simply to The Electragist in June 1923. The term “electragist” was adopted to replace the term “electrical contractor-dealer.” The name change coincided with the renaming of the Association to The Association of Electragists International at its annual meeting in 1922.
In November 1928, the magazine became an independent publication when it was sold to the Electrical Trade Publishing Co. of Chicago, at which time its name changed to Electrical Contracting magazine. As the name suggests, the editorial focus shifted back to the contractor and away from the merchandising end of the business, as other magazines and organizations began to focus exclusively on the distributor segment of the market.
Things remained relatively steady for close to 20 years until the magazine (purchased in July 1936 by McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. of New York) changed its name to Electrical Construction and Maintenance (EC&M) in March 1947. This name change coincided with a major shift in the industry to recognize the important role maintenance played in an aging electrical infrastructure. As is the case today, the magazine recognized the importance of serving not only contractors, but also plant engineers and electricians, design and consulting engineers, electrical inspectors, and estimators.