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The History of Daylight Saving Time

by Maureen Hagrman

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 28, 2009 at 11:30 PM

Over the past few days I have had several people, including Doug Proffitt, ask me when Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends and we "Fall" back to Standard Daylight Time (SDT). Before I give you the answer lets fire up the "Flux Capacitor" and travel back in time so we may better understand Daylight Saving Time.

First there was Apparent Solar Time (True Local Time)... For hundreds of years people have measured time based on the position of the sun; it was noon when the sun was highest in the sky. Sundials were used well into the Middle Ages, at which time mechanical clocks began to appear on the scene. Cities would set their town clock by measuring the position of the sun. The problem... every city would be on a slightly different time.

Time keeping stood "still" until the mid 1800s when railways in Britian got tired of all the inconsistencies of local mean time, and they forced a uniform (Standard) time on the country. America would follow, but it would take another 43 years and again it would be the railroads acting as the time keeper. The challange in the U.S. and Canada... The vastness of North America, one time zone was not going to work.

In 1883 Standard time was instituted in four time zones in the US and Canada by the railroads. However it was not established into U.S. law until March 19, 1918 by the Standard Time Act. The act also included Daylight Saving Time, an idea that was not very popular then. Daylight Saving Time was repealed a year later, but standard time in time zones remained. Daylight time would remain a local matter until early in World War II, when it was nationally re-established and continuously observed from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. After the war its use varied among states and cities.

It wasn't until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act finally provided some standardization in the dates of the beginning and end of Daylight time in the U.S but the act did allow for local exemptions from its observance. The Uniform Time Act stated that daylight time begin on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October, with the change over occuring at 2 am local time. These dates and time were chosen because Congress believed it would create the least amount of problems and most people would be at home to change their clocks. Over the next 40 years the starting date would change several more times, but the ending date would not.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed both the starting and ending dates in hopes of conserving energy. Daylight Saving Time now starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.

So Doug to answer your question, Daylight Saving Time ends this year on November 1st.


 

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