NAPHCC was originally called the National Association of Master Plumbers (NAMP). In 1953 it became the National Association of Plumbing Contractors; in 1963 it became the National Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors (NAPHCC). In the years before the organization was started and during its early years, most plumbers were self-employed individuals rather than employees of larger contracting companies. Their wives were likely to be involved in the business. Often wives answered inquiries, kept the books, made appointments, and performed other duties in addition to their own domestic tasks.
NAMP was founded in 1882 to promote the interests of plumbers who considered themselves "true craftsmen" at a time of rapid transition from outdoor to indoor plumbing and of major technological improvements in residential and commercial buildings. These master plumbers tended to be specialists in metal work or gas fitting. They saw their mission as ensuring a safe and sanitary public plumbing system, and this remains their mission. They also promoted what was termed "trade protection" and opposed the sale of plumbing materials to anyone other than master plumbers. They foresaw, accurately, a time when there would be stringent governmental regulations on public sanitation facilities.
NAMP's Women's Auxiliary was founded at the 1919 NAMP convention by Emily Hornbrook (b. 1857). A year later the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving American women the right to vote. However, this auxiliary was not allowed to use the name and seal of the Association until 1921. In these early years, the Auxiliary was involved in scholarships for the children of members, raising the profile of the plumbing profession, discovering ways to help their husbands' businesses, and advocating for better public sanitation.
Over time the Auxiliary's activities expanded, and these activities are extremely well documented in the scrapbooks in the collection. For example, in response to the increasing governmental regulation of public sanitation, the Auxiliary formed a very active Sanitation Committee. In 1938, Anna Corcoran, the Chair of this committee, reported, "The Sanitation Program has become a march of progress for the Auxiliary…The women are now demanding, and in some cases getting, clean and sanitary restrooms, lavatory and toilet facilities in public theaters, restaurants, stores, parks and filling stations." They worked with Texaco to set standards of sanitation in their gas station restrooms. Texaco used these changes to their benefit in their ad campaigns, and other oil companies followed suit. During the World War II years, the Auxiliary promoted educational efforts to spread the word about the transmission of water-borne diseases including polio, typhoid, TB, and diphtheria, and advocated for the need for proper sanitary systems to reduce the incidence of diseases. In the decades that followed, the Auxiliary was active in promoting such issues as water pollution, labor practices (such as the Family Medical Leave Act), civil rights, pipeline safety, fuel economy standards, conservation, and recycling. They continued to fund scholarships for the education of the children of members, and they also had a loan program for members in need.
The mission of the Auxiliary today is to work in partnership with the National Association and the industry through cooperation, communication, and education. More specifically, its goals include promoting the industry to the public; drawing more young people into the industry through educational programs in an effort to address the shortage of people with these essential skills and filling a gap once filled by trade and vocational high schools; and protecting the nation's health through advocacy and grass roots efforts to improve public sanitation and the water supply.