An Extra Hour of Sunshine

It’s that time of year again, when Americans turn their clocks forward one hour.

A Coming Boon. For an hour of darkness - an hour of sunshine. Title from a newspaper article on Daylight Savings.

The original Daylight Savings law was first enacted in the United States in 1918 when Isabella was 77 years old. In the years before it became law, proponents of the bill had to sell the idea to the American public. For years lawmakers and lobbyists ran ads and articles in newspapers and magazines to tell Americans how good life could be if they just turned their clocks ahead one hour.

Sometimes the ads highlighted how a longer day would benefit the simple things in life:

Often when I get my evening paper it is too dark to read, but—

Newspaper illustration of a man standing under a street lamp at night trying to read a newspaper. In the background a clock on a church tower shows nine o'clock.

—the new Act will give daylight for Tennis in the Park.

Newspaper illustration of a man and woman playing tennis. In the background the sun in still shining brightly in the sky and a clock on a building shows the time is nine o'clock.

Backers of the bill encouraged average Americans to “think of evening walks in the park, or games out of doors, instead of being indoors, with only gas or electric light.”

Even in Summer we have to light the lamp about 9 p.m., but—

A man and woman sit at a table in a darkened room. The woman is sewing under a single lamp on the table. In the background a clock on a mantel shows the time is nine o'clock.

—in future it means motoring by daylight the whole evening.

Newspaper illustration showing a man on a motorcycle passing a woman and her chauffeur driving an automobile. In the background the sun shines brightly in the sky.

The scientific community liked the idea, too, and pointed out the advantages one additional hour of recreation would have on school children, and the effect it would have “in the preservation of eyesight.”

Newspaper excerpt: It is estimated that 210 hours of daylight are now wasted every year! Let us not be so faint-hearted nor unwise as to oppose the change, when the cost is so trifling, and when the reward is likely to be such a grand physical, mental, moral and economic advantage for our nation.

All the ads and arguments worked; Congress enacted the Daylight Saving Time law on March 9, 1918, and Americans have been arguing about it ever since!

Do you like Daylight Savings Time? What do you do with your extra hours of sunshine?

Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead on Sunday, March 14!