03 December 2020

Fanny Steenblik's Award Winning Window Design for Electric Week

Electric Week window designed by Fanny Steenblik, Dec 6 1916. From UDSH.

Miss Fenneken “Fanny” Steenblik was 18 when she won an award for this window that she decorated for National Electric Week in 1916.

National Electrical Prosperity Week started in 1915 and was usually the first week of December. It was organized by the Society for Electrical Development and designed to encourage people to buy electric items. Every city in the US with a population larger than 10,000 was to celebrated Electric Week.

In the 1910s electric items were a luxury but were becoming more accessible to the middle class with monthly payment options. Electric toys, electric sewing machines, electric lamps, electric vacuums, electric stoves, electric kitchen appliances, and electric automobile accessories were all highly desirable items.

At the time, electric goods were so specialized that they were primarily sold through electrical stores which were subsidiaries of electric and telephone utilities. The Western Electric Company was one of these specialty stores. Headquartered in Chicago it had stores and offices throughout the Western US including its store at 41 W Broadway SLC.

Fanny worked for Western Electric as a stenographer. For reasons I did not discover, she was tasked be the window trimmer and to design the showcase window for Electric Week 1916 at a time in which women rarely did such a job.

She received the second prize awarded by the Utah Committee for Electrical Week for the most artistic and comprehensive window out of more than 20 windows in the competition. Frist prize was awarded to James VanDuren, a salesman at Intermountain Electric Co.

Fanny married in 1919 and was forced to quit her job at Western Electric as the company did not allow married women to be in it employ at the time.

Electric Week faded in importance over the decades and the last Electric Week in SLC was barely even acknowledged in 1974.

Of note, Fanny Steenblik’s parents and siblings operated the Steenblik Dairy on the west side of SLC for which Steenblik Park (with its cat statues) is named.

Sources: SL Trib 1915-11-21; SL Trib 1916-12-07

Western Electric storefront in 1916 at 41 W Broadway SLC.
This building has been demolished but the building on the
left is still standing and is now condos. From UDSH.

Electric Week 1916 poster. From Utah Farmer v13.

Electric Week advertisement. From SL Trib 1916-12-03

Say Merry Christmas Electrically advertisement. From SL Telegram 1920-12-19.

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