A History of Daylight Saving Time

Spring ForwardWilliam Willett is mainly credited with Daylight Saving Time (DST) when he came up with the idea of moving clocks 20 minutes forward each week in the spring and 20 minutes back each week in the fall to take advantage of the light during the summer. Willett’s plan caught the attention of Robert Pearce who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in 1908. The first Daylight Saving Bill was drafted and presented to Parliament in 1909, but was denied because of strong opposition.

During World War I, Germany and Austria began saving daylight at 11 p.m. on April 30, 1916, but advancing the hands of the clock one hour until the following October in an effort to conserve fuel needed to produce electric power. Other countries followed suit, including Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, Tasmania, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Great Britain. In 1917, Australia and Newfoundland began DST as well.

In 1918, the U.S. enacted ‘An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States‘ on March 19. However, after the War ended, the law was so unpopular that it was repealed in 1919. Daylight Saving Time became a local option, and was continued in a few states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and in a few cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The early years of DST have been controversial, but since then the idea has grown in popularity. Today, Arizona, Hawaii and the territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the American Samoa are the only places in the U.S. that don’t observe DST.

Many areas of Africa and Asia do not observe DST still. In South America, most countries closer to the equator do not observe DST, but more southern countries do. In Oceania, New Zealand and parts of Australia observe DST.

This year, DST is Sunday, March 9. Clocks will be spring forward to 3 a.m. after 1:59 a.m. You may lose an hour of sleep that night, but you’ll gain an hour of sunlight each day until November 2 when DST ends.