{ subscribe_url:'//blogs.loc.gov/share/sites/library-of-congress-blogs/inside_adams.php' }

Illuminating our Holidays

Photo shows night view of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., decorated with electric lights for the first inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are highlighting another Everyday Mystery relevant to this time of the year: Who invented electric Christmas lights?

The short answer is Thomas Alva Edison and Edward H. Johnson. After all, Edison created the first practical light bulb and successfully strung together the first strand of electric lights outside his Menlo Park Laboratory during the 1880 holiday season. Two years later Edward H. Johnson, Edison’s friend and partner, hand- wired a strand of red, white, and blue bulbs to go around his revolving Christmas tree.

President Coolidge illuminating the community Christmas tree, which has been erected on the Monument Grounds, south of the White House

Edison and Johnson demonstrated to the public the use of electric lights for the holiday season. However when talking about the popularization of electric Christmas lights, we must acknowledge the work of Albert Sadacca. Sadacca saw a future in selling and marketing electric Christmas lights. By the 1920’s, Albert and his brothers organized the National Outfit Manufacturers Association (NOMA), which became NOMA Electric Co., with its members cornering the Christmas lights market until the 1960’s.

There is much more about the history of electric Christmas lights that I am not mentioning here. I go into more detail in Who invented electric Christmas lights mystery, as well as list resources where you can find more information.

Happy Holidays!

No Comments

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.