The Adequate Wiring Bureau

Nowadays, to describe something as 'adequate' sounds like it's damning with faint praise. It doesn't come across a ringing endorsement. It's like getting a 'B' on a homework assignment instead of an 'A'. It's merely adequate, not great.

But evidently the word once had a much stronger positive association in general usage, as seen in the existence of the National Adequate Wiring Bureau. Many states also had their own Bureaus of Adequate Wiring. Their goal was to encourage homes to have proper, code-compliant electrical wiring.

As far as I can tell, the National Adequate Wiring Bureau came into existence as early as the 1890s, but there is no such thing today. By the 1970s, Adequate Wiring Bureaus had quietly begun to change their names, dropping the word 'adequate'.

It reminds me of the "Miss Typical" awards that used to be bestowed on young women. In today's culture, being typical or adequate no longer sounds like a compliment.

Brandon Times - Mar 12, 1953

I like this 1974 ad from the Adequate Wiring Bureau of Western New York, which used the idea of the sun suddenly going out, and the Earth being plunged into a freezing-cold apocalypse, as a way to promote the need for adequate wiring.

Wellsville Daily Reporter - Feb 13, 1974

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 28, 2019
     Category: Languages | Odd Names | Public Utilities | Power Generation

Have you ever been in a very old building with totally exposed wiring? Just the two conducting wires tacked to the wall on insulators to keep them in place? That scares the willies out of me. Better wiring standards may have been largely locally administered during the time of the Adequate Wiring Bureaus but it was a step in the right direction towards national standards.
Posted by KDP on 09/28/19 at 08:49 PM
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