Western Section Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

The Western Section celebrated its 100th Anniversary at its 2004 Annual Meeting held in West Des Moines, Iowa, September 19–22, 2004. Although the IAEI officially was established in 1928, the Western Section dates its history back to 1905.

Historically, a record of electrical inspectors working for various jurisdictions of government, as well as insurance, and testing laboratories goes back to the turn of the century. These inspectors saw the need for uniform interpretation of the code rules as well as fair and dependable inspection to safeguard lives and property. It became apparent that there was a need for inspectors to organize to achieve these goals. Some of the old records show inspector organizations for Eastern, Western, and Southern areas.

William S. Boyd who worked for The Underwriters Electrical Bureau (later renamed to Underwriters Laboratories) was instrumental in forming the Western Association of Electrical Inspectors. The first meeting of this association was held in May 1905, with Mr. Boyd serving as secretary from 1905 until 1926. Mr. Boyd later became chief electrical inspector for the city of Chicago and was instrumental in the creation of the IAEI.

In the 1920s, electrical inspectors throughout the United States began to feel a need for a national or international organization of their group. In the twenties, there were several different organizations of electrical inspectors. Some of these were local clubs such as The Electric Inspection Club of Detroit, organized in 1912. Others were state organizations such as the Wisconsin Association of Electrical Inspectors, formed in Milwaukee in 1920, and the Michigan Electrical Inspectors Club, formed in 1927. However, these organizations were regional. A need for centralization was essential. Many farsighted men felt this need, and they made plans to establish an international organization.

A national committee was formed in 1925 to work on a plan to organize the electrical inspectors of the U.S. and Canada into a national or international organization. The principal members of this committee were William S. Boyd of Chicago, Ellis Cannady of North Carolina, Jim Mahan of Los Angeles, Joseph Forsyth of New York, Victor Tousley of Chicago and Fred Weber of Portland, Oregon. By 1927, the preliminaries to formation of the international association had progressed to a point at which an organizational meeting was held on November 14, 1928, in New York.

By this time, state and regional organizations were anticipating the formation of the IAEI and began changing their name to reflect this even before the international organization was officially formed in 1928. In January 1926, at the annual meeting of the Western Association of Electrical Inspectors, its name was changed to the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, Western Section. Thus, the Western Section dates its history back to 1905 and is celebrating its 100th meeting in 2004. William Boyd, secretary of the Western Association of Electrical Inspectors, continued as secretary of the Western Section until 1934 and even served as IAEI international president in 1930.

The original membership consisted of four classes, Active, Associate, Advisory, and Sustaining. All members had an initiation fee of $2.00 with annual dues being $2.00 per year for Active and Associate Members, $5.00 per year for Advisory members and $50.00 per year for Sustaining Members.

The original organization of the IAEI was based on sections that were previously the various associations of electrical inspectors from around the country. The old Western Association of Electrical inspectors became known as the Western Section, IAEI, and included the states of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Montana, and the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

Although electrical inspectors were organizing throughout the area encompassed by the Western Section in the 1920s, there were only three chapters officially recognized when the section held its Silver Jubilee 25th Annual Meeting on August 26–28,1929, at the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, Michigan. These were the Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin Chapters.

The 1930s saw a dramatic increase in the number of chapters in the section. The Ohio, Rocky Mountain, Missouri-Kansas, Indiana, Iowa, and St. Louis Chapters were all organized during this period.

The 1940s were quiet years in the organization of electrical inspectors, no doubt due to the war and restrictions on travel. The West Virginia Chapter, which ultimately was dissolved to become part of the Ohio Chapter, and the South Dakota Chapter were approved. The Ontario Chapter became the first Canadian chapter formed as part of the Western Section.

Activity picked up during the 1950s with four new chapters being recognized. They were the Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma Chapters, although Oklahoma later seceded from the Western Section and moved to the Southern Section. Divisions started to become a vital organizational part of the IAEI as the Western Section’s first division, the Suburban Division of the Illinois Chapter, was created in 1950. The Western Section hosted the 25th Silver Jubilee meeting of the IAEI in Chicago in 1953. It was also at this meeting that the Canadian Section received its charter and those provinces that were previously part of the Western Section were transferred to the new section. Also, the section celebrated its 50th Golden Jubilee meeting in 1954 at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.

With the exception of North Dakota that became a chapter in 1961, Arkansas in 1971, and the Kansas Sunflower Chapter in 1990, most of the activity within the Western Section during the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s involved the forming of divisions, primarily in Illinois and Ohio. The section held its 75th Diamond Jubilee in 1979 at the Sheraton Century Hotel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with Philip H. Cox serving as section president for the Jubilee.

The Wyoming Division of the Rocky Mountain Chapter became the latest chapter in the section in 2003 and celebrated its first meeting as a chapter at the section’s 100th Anniversary Meeting in West Des Moines in September 2004.