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Who started Daylight Savings Time?

Happy Daylight Savings Time (DST)! You now get an "extra hour" of sunlight at the end of the day (don't worry about the hour you lose in the morning). Of course, there are several people/places who don't recognize Daylight Savings Time. And surprisingly it's surrounded by a level of controversy today as it was when it was first suggested. Which brings me to my Daily Doodle question, "Who started Daylight Savings Time?"


Although modern DST has only been used for about 100 years, ancient civilizations engaged in comparable practices thousands of years ago. One example is the Roman water clocks, which used different scales for different months of the year to adjust the daily schedules to the solar time.


It is often mentioned Benjamin Franklin was the first to suggest modern day Daylight Savings Time in his essay "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," which was published in the Journal de Paris in April 1784. Some thank New Zealand scientist, George Vernon Hudson, for the Daylight Savings idea. In 1895, Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society, proposing a 2-hour shift forward in October and a 2-hour shift back in March. There was interest in the idea, but it was never followed through. Others suggest it William Willett was a main player in Daylight Savings Time. He penned a pamphlet called "The Waste of Daylight" in 1907. Although the British House of Commons rejected Willett's proposal to advance the clock one hour in the spring and back again in autumn in 1908.


Ontario, Canada was the first to implement Daylight Savings Time. They turned their clocks forward one hour (just before the clock struck midnight) to start July 1, 1908 at 1am instead of midnight. Other locations in Canada soon followed suit. On April 23, 1914, Regina in Saskatchewan implemented DST. The cities of Winnipeg and Brandon in Manitoba did so on April 24, 1916. According to the April 3, 1916, edition of the Manitoba Free Press, Daylight Saving Time in Regina “proved so popular that bylaw now brings it into effect automatically.”


William Willett continued his plight of Daylight Savings Time until his death in 1915, just a year before United Kingdom's Parliament introduced British Summer Time in 1916, a few weeks after Germany introduced Daylight Savings Time on April 30, 1916—2 years into World War I. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting to save fuel for the war effort. Most of them reverted to standard time after World War I, and it wasn’t until the next World War that DST made its return in most of Europe.


Many other countries changed their clocks when adjusting to summer time, but the United States only began doing so towards the end of World War I in an attempt to conserve energy. The House of Representatives voted 252 to 40 to pass a law "to save daylight," with the official first daylight saving time taking place on March 15, 1918, to much dismay. Despite the public outcry, government officials enforced the time change until 1919, and allowed state and local governments to decide whether to continue the practice. It was reinstituted during World War II but, again, after the war the decision fell to the states... which today still falls to the states, but has to be approved by the federal government. For example, Florida voted to remain on Daylight Savings Time in 2018 but it hasn't yet been approved by Congress.


In my opinion it really needs to be an all or nothing situation or else things start getting weird. I can handle the "exceptions to the rule"--Arizona and Hawaii, but can you imagine if you had to remember that Arizona and Hawaii were standard time, and California, Floridia, Ohio, and Kentucky were Always Daylight savings time, and other states could come and go... talk about confusion! What's your take? Should we keep it, toss it, keep on standard time or daylight savings time...?





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