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Q&A: What is the history of daylight saving time?

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. the second Sunday in March, so remember to set your clocks ahead one hour.

Getty Images (2007)

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. the second Sunday in March, so remember to set your clocks ahead one hour.

History of daylight saving time

Can you tell me a little bit about daylight saving time?

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March, so we push the clocks forward one hour this Sunday, March 8. It continues through 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November, which this year is Nov. 1.

We do this to provide an extra hour of light in the afternoon. It's generally thought to be an energy saver, though there are plenty of arguments for and against the practice.

The idea of DST is generally credited to English builder William Willett in 1905. He thought too many people wasted sunshine in the summer by sleeping through it, and also liked the idea of extra daylight for golfing. He lobbied unsuccessfully for the bill until he died in 1915.

But in 1916, Germany decided to try it. Britain soon followed, and the United States adopted the measure in 1918 for a short time, abandoned it after seven months and brought it back in 1942 through 1945. From 1945-66 there was no law mandating its use, so it fell to local and state governments to decide whether to adhere.

Finally, Congress decided consistency was needed and passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Since then the rules have changed several times, the latest in 2005, when the period DST is in effect was lengthened by a month.

Most of the United States observes the time change, but there are holdouts: Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam.

Eye care addendum

Responding to a recent Ask the Times question about free eye tests and glasses, reader Robert Lloyd points out that help for those in need is available locally through the Lions Club.

Lions Clubs International, which has about 1.3 million members in 200-plus countries, also collect old eyeglasses and redistribute to those in need in foreign countries. Collection boxes are located at libraries, schools, community centers, churches, coffee shops, video stores, optometrists' offices and other high-traffic areas.

The Lions took on the cause of helping the blind and visually impaired in 1925 when blind and deaf author and political activist Helen Keller challenged the club to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness" at the Lions' annual convention.

According to the Lions Clubs Web site, there are local chapters in Beverly Hills, Brandon, Clearwater, Crystal River, Floral City, Gulfport, Holiday, Hudson, Inverness, Land O'Lakes, Largo, Lutz, New Port Richey, Palm Harbor, Pinellas Park, Plant City, Safety Harbor, Seminole, South Hillsborough, Spring Hill, St. Petersburg, Sun City Center, Tampa, Tarpon Springs, Thonotosassa, the University of South Florida and Zephyrhills.

For more information, go to

Q&A: What is the history of daylight saving time? 03/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 4:12pm]
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