Daylight Saving Time in Iowa

Have you recovered from the change in time yet? Ever wonder why we have to reset our clocks twice a year? The merits of Daylight Saving Time (DST) have been argued ever since Benjamin Franklin took a trip to Paris in 1784 and “saw the light,” penning a proposal to economize the use of candles during the daytime.  In 1907, Englishman William Willett wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘The Waste of Daylight’, which led to several European nations adopting his plan for saving daylight. In 1918 the United States officially observed DST but repealed it the next year. According to an article in the Des Moines Tribune on January 14, 1919, the Polk County Farm Improvement Association condemned the law,  stating that quitting at the same hour ”new time” shortened their working day by one hour since they had to get up “before the moon had gone to bed.” A proposal to adopt Daylight Saving Time brought before the Des Moines City Council in 1927 was opposed by such diverse groups as street railway workers, the carpenters union, motion picture operators and post office employees. It didn’t pass. The Iowa House opposed “War Time” in 1943 which the U.S. Congress had passed the year before in order to conserve electricity, but the Iowa Senate refused to go along. By 1962, Iowa communities had 23 distinct combinations of dates for starting and ending DST, leading a September 6, 1964 Des Moines Register headline to state, “Daylight time spreads nightmare of chaos across Iowa.” In Springville (Linn County), for example, city government made the switch to Central Standard Time, while the schools and local merchants stayed with DST. Finally, in 1966, Congress passed and President Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, standardizing Daylight Saving Time across the country, although it included a provision that a state could exempt itself by passing a state law (which Arizona and Hawaii have done). Folks in the other 48 states, including Iowa, can at least now be fairly sure at what time to line up at Starbucks in the morning.

These books can be found in the Des Moines Public Library:

Spring forward: The annual madness of Daylight Saving Time by Michael Downing.

Seize the daylight: The curious and contentious story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau.



2 Responses

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