Reddy Kilowatt Records at The Smithsonian, 1926-1999

Looks like the Smithsonian Institution has 199 boxes of Reddy Kilowatt history. Everything was donated by Xcel Energy in 2005.

Bio / His Notes:
The Reddy Kilowatt trademark was created in 1926 by Ashton B. Collins. Reddy Kilowatt, Inc. licensed the trademark promotion and identification purposes by more than 150 investor-owned electric utilities in the United States and at least 12 foreign countries. The company later changed its name to Reddy Communications, Inc. In 1998 Northern States Power Company bought Reddy Communications and its assets, later changing its name to Xcel Energy.

Scope and Content:
Records documenting the development and use of Reddy’s licensed trademark, the stick figure “Reddy Kilowatt.” The figure was used to promote electrical appliances and other consumer use of electricity, as well as to promote energy conservation during World War II. The records include historical materials about Ashton B. Collins, Reddy’s creator and founder of the company. These include letters, speeches, memoranda, photographs and scrapbooks documenting his early career in the electrical power industry. Also included are company publications, advertisements, presentation materials, reports, company histories, and promotional items including materials directed at children such as comic and coloring books. Audiovisual materials include motion picture films, audiodiscs, audiotapes, and filmstrips. The audiotapes include recorded speeches by persons such as Benjamin Hooks, Barry Commoner, and John W. Gofman.

More: Reddy Kilowatt Records, 1926-1999.

Not a mascot, but ‘The Helper’

Meet The Helper, a slightly Reddy-inspired Donald Duck character. Well, maybe you’d already met him but I hadn’t. He’s been around since the 1950s and is “a kind of microbot.”

In Gyro’s First Invention Don Rosa shows that the Helper was constructed in 1952. He is built out of a lamp previous owned by Donald Duck. Some mysterious way the lamp became alive and intelligent when Donald accidentally hit Gyro in his head with it so that Gyro’s head hit his unfinished mindbox. Later Gyro gave the main part of the lamp mechanical legs and arms so that it could be able to cross obstacles. To avoid vibrations while moving it was also equipped with dolls shoes … and finally Donald put on a light-bulb so that it could light up its surroundings.

Pretty neat. Hat tip to Tom R. for pointing him out.

Reddy Killowatt as a real Railroader

Check out the Gopher State Railway Museum’s train featuring Reddy Kilowatt as the engineer (scroll down after following the link).

Photo by Adam Kosel.

Jeff Braun says:

From Just a brief history — the locomotive was built in 1940 by Electromotive Corporation for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. NSP accquired the locomotive in approximately 1973 from the Burlington Northern Railroad, to switch its St Paul, Minnesota coal-fired High Bridge power plant, where it worked unitl 1996. It wore the slightly modified Reddy Killowatt figure from 1973 until it was retired in 1996. Because of its heritage and unique paint job, NSP generously donated the locomotive to the Gopher State Railway Museum (located in New Prague, Minnesota just south of the Twin City Metro area) where it now resides, still prominently featuring Reddy in his hard hat and railroad lantern in hand.

Thanks Jeff and Adam!

A couple contributions…

Here are some items sent in by readers. Thanks!

First, a great certificate from 1949 for “Proficiency in coloring” from the Reddy Kilowatt Club. Victoria Sabbato was six years old and in kindergarten at Sierra Seville School in Fontana, California when she received this.

Second, here’s a cooking chart provided by the Ohio Edison Home Service Department, submitted by Brian G.

Thanks folks! Feel free to send in your Reddy memorabilia.