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Saturday, March 11 2017

It's time to reset our clocks an hour ahead for daylight saving time (DST). 

The idea of daylight saving time was first proposed by an entomologist in New Zealand who wanted extra daylight hours to study his bugs -- but that's another story.  Closer to home, it was during World War I that many European countries and the United States passed laws adjusting the clock to conserve energy resources.  The United States Congress passed the first law on daylight saving time on March 19, 1918.  The bill was entitled “An Act to Save daylight and to provide standard time for the United States.”

That law not only established DST but also formally divided the nation into the five time zones we know today -- Standard Eastern Time, Central, Mountain, Pacific and finally Standard Alaska time.  

However, this law was in effect for only about a year and a half. In 1919, daylight savings time was repealed, and adjustments were made to the five standard time zones.  It was not until the beginning of WWII that Congress took up the issue of daylight saving time again.

In 1942 Congress passed a law “To promote the national security and defense by establishing daylight saving time.”  This law was scheduled to take effect twenty days after its passage and to cease within six months “after the termination of the present war,” or earlier if designated by a concurrent resolution. In September 1945, Congress passed a law “To provide for the termination of daylight saving time.”

Image: Victory! Congress passes daylight saving bill.
Poster by United Cigar Stores Company, 1918. //

For the next 21 years, there was no Federal legislation mandating daylight saving time.  Then in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, establishing daylight saving time to run from the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October.  However, this law provided the allowance of an entire state to exempt itself from observing daylight saving time.

This legislation has been modified several times since 1966.  In 1973, Congress passed the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in response to severe energy shortages. With this emergency legislation, daylight saving time was continuous from January 6, 1974, through October 26, 1975.

In 1986 daylight saving time was extended by changing the beginning date to the first Sunday in April instead of the last.  Most recently, under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight saving time was extended by several weeks running from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.  

This post is excerpted from the Library of Congress Prints and Photos Blog:

Spring forward, fall back – it’s daylight saving time
March 6, 2014 by Margaret Wood

Springing Forward into Daylight Saving Time
March 10, 2017 by Kristi Finefield   

Posted by: AT 07:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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