A Brief History of Daylight Saving Time

Changing clocks to take better advantage of daylight hours is an idea that has been around for almost 100 years, but only a mandated national event in the United States for the past 50 years.

Daylight Saving Time begins on March 12, when we turn our clocks forward an hour (yes, it means “losing” an hour).

For most people in the United States, DST has been an annual rite of spring and fall. Although Benjamin Franklin sarcastically wrote about the concept in the 1700s, the idea has only been implemented in the past century.

Why DST? The idea for DST is to coordinate daylight hours with most people’s schedules to conserve on the use of artificial light. Today most people get up later and stay up later than previous generations, so light later in the day is more important than in the early morning.

Canadians were the first. DST was first used in Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 1908. Neighboring areas adopted it soon after.

World War I makes it go international. Germany instituted DST in 1916 to reduce the use of artificial light to save energy for the war effort. England did the same the following year and the United States put it into practice in 1918.

Not a popular concept in the States. After just one year, the United States quit using DST. Since most people were farmers who started the day early, they preferred having more daylight at the beginning of the day.

Another World War. In 1942, during World War II, the United States again put DST into practice, which lasted until 1945. Then it was back to a free-for-all, with some cities and states using DST and others not.

Uniformity at last. In 1966, in order to end the confusion with areas using different time designations, the U.S. Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which put everyone on DST starting the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October.

Extending DST. In 2007, the length of DST was extended. It now starts on the second Sunday in March and goes until the first Sunday in November.

Not quite nationwide. Two states do not observe DST – Arizona and Hawaii. Indiana had been part of that group but began observing it in 2007.

International DST. Daylight Saving Time is observed in 70 countries, affecting about 1 billion people.

Reminding your friends. For many people who attend church services on Sundays, the time change can be confusing and easy to forget. Some people have even been known to be late for work on Monday because clocks and alarms weren’t changed. Now would be a great time to send out reminders to friends and colleagues.

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