Bridge 3: Envisioning Complexity Reflection

For the Bridge 3 Envisioning Complexity project, I chose to research into the origins of the daylight-saving time (DST). However, it was little challenging to decide who started it first, because it can be viewed differently depends on how one defines its origin. For example, George Hudson from New Zealand is known to be the first person who specified the concept of DST in 1895, which was to advance the clocks for 2 hours from October to February. Similar idea was also issued in Britain in 1905 by William Willett as well, yet neither of their bills had taken effect until later. Some people concern Benjamin Franklin’s “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” in 1784 as the start of the DST. Different from these individuals, the first country that enforced the DST nationwide was Germany in 1916. It was during the period of World War I, and the German government introduced DST to conserve the fuel used in lighting so that they can focus more on the war. Other European countries such as France and Britain followed Germany’s footstep, which disappeared after the war was over.  For the case of the United States, the Congress passed the Standard Time Act, or Calder Act, in 1918, which established the five standard time zones (Eastern, Central, Midwest, Pacific, and Alaska) and the DST from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October of each year. Interestingly, the DST was welcomed by the merchants, especially those in New York, but not too popular to the farmers. For the merchants, who were largely involved in the railroad industry, the DST expected to save over 1,500,000 tons of coal annually and provide increased quality of life with the extra hour of leisure time in the afternoon. Nevertheless, despite its apparent benefits claimed by the merchants, the DST seemed to take away the hour during the day that the farmers need to work and transport the goods.

To me, the DST feels like it has been around for a very long time, but through the research I learned that it is only about 100 years old. Further, it was interesting how it was largely imitated by World War I, and there are contrasting viewpoints between the different interest groups over the issue. Even though the DST started with good intention, some people soon found it detrimental to their daily lives back then. The initial motivation of the DST was the war and the industry of the time, which is not directly applicable in recent days. Considering how there are many countries that do not observe DST, it made me wonder how the views of people living in these days towards the DST differ from the arguments opposing the side. I would like to find out what kind of geographical and personal factors could influence an individual’s perspective regarding the DST.


Primary – The Standard Time Act, 1918,

Germany’s Daylight Saving Time Act, 1916


Secondary – Cory E. Clark and Lynn J. Cunningham. Daylight Saving Time,

“Daylight Saving.” CQ Researcher by CQ Press.

Stephanie Schoh. “Change Your Clocks-Daylight Savings Time-Mar 10.”

“The History of Daylight Saving Time.”

Ian R. Bartky. One Time Fits All: The Campaigns for Global Uniformity. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2007. (246-247)

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