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What time Is It? A History of Daylight Savings Minnesota and Elsewhere

A History of Daylight Savings

The purpose of daylight savings time is to move the clock ahead by an hour in the springtime to gain more daylight time . The clocks are moved back in the fall. Daylight savings time in some form has been tried as far back as ancient civilizations.



When I was probably about five years old my sister, a teenager, was always on my case because I couldn’t tell time . I don’t know why I couldn’t learn to tell time but now I suspect that I really had no motivation. I didn’t care what time it was . In later years I’ve been a slave to the clock. It was in about that same time period that the Second World War was raging. I do somehow remember we had a form of daylight savings time. Its purpose, I think, was to save electricity. Also to have fewer lights on that might attract enemy air attacks. We also had light blocking shades on the windows.

After the war the daylight time was rescinded and it wasn’t until the 1960’s that it was reintroduced in Minnesota. At the time I was going to the University and earning the money to live and pay tuition by delivering newspapers on a motor route. That is delivering by automobile in areas too spread out for foot carriers. It was kind of nice in springtime that some early dawn light made it easier and more pleasant to deliver. Then they reinvented daylight savings time and I was back to delivering in the dark.

I’ve never cared for the use of daylight time although it was quite popular at the time. There were a lot of mix-ups on time back in the 1960’s. Maybe it was somehow symbolic of the times. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I lived, the city went on daylight time but the State didn’t. This meant that businesses ran on daylight time but that any state office was operating on standard time..

The University of Minnesota, being a state facility, stayed on standard time, which made it confusing to the students put signs over the street which went through the campus warning “You are entering a standard time zone .”



Ancient times

Sometimes schedules were adjusted for flexibility, which might divide daylight into twelve hours making it so that the daylight hours were longer during the summer. Roman water clocks, for instance, had different scales for different months of the year. In later times hours were equal length and time no longer varied by season. In some traditional settings such as Jewish ceremonies unequal hours are still used.

Benjamin Franklin in 1784 presented a plan for saving daylight as a joke. In an essay “An Economic Project,” Franklin made fun of Frenchmen who sleep late. He published an anonymous letter suggesting candles could be saved if people got up earlier to take advantage of morning sunlight. Satirically he suggested taxing shutters, rationing candles and waking the public by firing canons and ringing church bells at sunrise. I’m afraid a satire like this now would probably be taken seriously and a czar would be appointed to implement it.

18th Century


It wasn’t until the 18th Century that railroads and communications networks made it important to standardize time

Modern DST

New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson was the first to propose modern daylight savings time (DST). He did shift-work  which gave him time to collect insects and he thought it might be good to have more daylight hours to pursue his avocation. He presented a paper in 1895 to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight saving shift.  Interest in the idea was expressed and he presented another paper in1898.

English builder and avid golfer, William Willett independently conceived of DST in 1905.He proposed advancing the clock an hour in the summer. English parliament member Robert Pearce introduced a bill but it did not become law.

World War I

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April 1916 Germany and its allies first used daylight savings time to conserve coal. Britain and most of its allies and neutrals did so as well.

In the United states Daylight Savings Time was established by the Act of March 19, 1918 or the Standard Time Act intended to save electricity for seven months of the year. During World War I. It was repealed in 1919 but standard time in time zones stayed in law. The  Interstate Commerce Commission got authority over time zone boundaries making daylight time a local matter.

Daylight time

Daylight savings time

World War II

January 20, 1942 Congress enacted the Wartime Act, which reinstated DST in the United States as a wartime measure to conserve energy. September 1945 and it ended after the war. It was called wartime.

Between 1945 and 1966 federal law did not deal with DST. Without standardization there was a hodgepodge of places being on different time schedules. This made it a problem for travelers passing through various time zones on even short trips. In the mid-1960’s the transportation industries lobbied for uniform standards.

Daylight Savings Time 1966


 The U.S. federal uniform time act was made law April 13, 1966 mandating DST begin nationally on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October. Starting in 1967.

Although the act preempted state laws previously in effect states were able to pass state laws to opt out of daylight time.

In the energy crisis in 1973 daylight in the United States began earlier in 1974 and 1975.

In 2007 DST was extended four to five weeks longer and became part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Advantages of DST

Daylight time tends to favor those who want to engage in outdoor activities such as golf during afternoon daylight hours. Its primary advantage in saving energy is mostly from effects on residential lighting.

Retailers, sporting goods makers, and some other businesses gain from the extra daylight time. On the other hand, farmers, prime time broadcasting, and drive-in theaters and other theaters. DST can create extra work and cost to support such things as support for remote meetings and computer applications.

In the U.S. there are indications that there are fewer traffic fatalities during DST. There seems to be some increase in accident at the beginning   of DST periods, which might be due to sleep interruption.

Wikipedia History of time in United states

Daylight savings time

© 2011 Don A. Hoglund


Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 09, 2012:

Thanks for commenting B.Leekley.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 09, 2012:

Interesting history.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 09, 2012:

Thanks for commenting tammyswallow. Daylight time has never woked well for me. I usually end up getting up in the dark and going to bed in the daylight.

Tammy from North Carolina on March 09, 2012:

Such a great idea supported by so many. If you have a young child, daylight saving time makes it difficult on a child's schedule. I am not a fan for this reason and many more. Excellent points!

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on November 03, 2011:

sam7muldersmom.That time of year again. I don't think it is as popular as it was many years ago. Possibly because there are other choices now. Thanks for commenting.

sam7muldersmom on November 03, 2011:

I would like to see it stay at spring forward and not return to fall back. Everyone I have to talked to about the subject feels the same way. I would like to see it on the ballot. If everyone got the chance to vote on the subject. I'm sure it would pass.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 13, 2011:

I'm with you. thanks for commenting.

suejanet on March 13, 2011:

I wish they would just leave the time on one time.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 09, 2011:

crystolite thanks for giving this a read and commenting.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 09, 2011:

Thanks for commenting Wayne. In my own observation recreation like golf seems to gain the most. It may be my imagination but it seems that golf has become very popular since the 960's. Maybe people just have more money for it.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 09, 2011:

Kim 039

Thanks for reading and commenting. Depending on what activities you engage in it will work out fine.As I get older I find it is harder to adjust my sleep schedule.

Emma from Houston TX on March 09, 2011:

Nice documentary.thanks for sharing.

Wayne Brown from Texas on March 08, 2011:

I am amazed that daylight savings time could have such a checkered past. I always lived in the south so DST has always created issues with my body clock. Once it is invoked down here in TX, we get up to a dark day...the sun is not up yet. Then, we spend hours upon hours in the sunshine. In the timeframe of early June, our sunsets come around 9PM in the evening. There was a time when that sunshine had value to me me...but no longer. The days are so hot here that I long for the sun to set just so we can cool down a wee bit. I am sure someone will come along and find a reason we shoud not be doing this....i.e. it pollutes the atmosphere! God forbid! Thanks for the research and the sharing. WB

Kim Harris on March 08, 2011:

I checked no i don't like DST but it's actually the changing time I don't like. More daylight is good, but keep it that way! thanks for the historical explanation, dahoglund. I figured there was one, and now I know! Thanks:)

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 08, 2011:

KoffeeKlatch Gals

Thanks for the compliment and for commenting. I try to make what I write about interesting. I'm also glad to hear when I succeed at it.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 08, 2011:


Maybe you should be a fan of Ben Franklin.Like Washington Irving and Mark Twain, Franklin worked in publishing. A good practical joke or hoax was not out of order back then.When he was in Europe he wore a coon skin cap because people in Europe thought that was how Americans dressed.

A hub on Franklin might be interesting. let me think about it.In the mean time you might want to read some of "Poor Richards almanac" to get an idea of his humor and philosophy.You should be able to get it from your library.

Thanks for commenting.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on March 08, 2011:

Great history, I'm always fascinated by the way you put together the historical facts. I believe you are right, I believe it was to save electricity.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on March 08, 2011:

Fascinating! I believe I might have been a huge fan of Benjamin Franklin, had he been on my side of politics. Whatever side that is. Or he was. Frankly speaking... da, does this phrase refer to his earnest and humorous reflections? I know you will hub about it and I look forward to discovering more trivia from the likes of you.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 07, 2011:

Arizona, except for the Navajo Indian Reservation and Hawaii do not observe DST.

DST has never worked for me. I had a pretty good internal clock when I was young and never needed an alarm clock. DST messed that up. It is time to change the clocks again and I haven't adjusted from the last time.With the flexibility of work hours for most people in today's world

it really doesn't seem necessary.

Thanks for commenting.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 07, 2011:

As you say...some people benefit at the cost of others. I always hate losing that hour of sleep when we "Spring Forward" each year setting the clock one hour ahead. When we "Fall Back" gaining an hour...ah...nice! Useful hub. Aren't there a couple of states that opt out?

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 07, 2011:

I think it still baffles me.Thanks for commenting.

Rob from Oviedo, FL on March 07, 2011:

The whole DST thing used to baffle me as a kid. Thanks for the history lesson.

Don A. Hoglund (author) from Wisconsin Rapids on March 07, 2011:

I'm glad if it helped. thanks for the first comment.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 07, 2011:

Love this topic! I have always wondered how this custom started, and now you have helped me out. Great hub and thank you!

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