Marshfield, May 1917: An attempt to spring ahead falls back
Daylight saving time is unsuccessfully introduced in Marshfield
By Kris Leonhardt
Daylight saving time began in Germany in April of 1916 as a way to conserve electricity during the lean World War I era. Creating an additional daylight hour at the end of the day provided sunshine as opposed to artificial light and saved on electricity.
The method soon spread across the European continent before trickling into the United States.
By May of 1917, the method had been tried in various regions across the country. In the prior months, daylight saving time had been unsuccessfully launched in three Wisconsin cities.
Even with the reported disdain in Green Bay, Wausau, and De Pere, Marshfield city officials decided to try the “spring ahead, fall back” method.
Notifying factories and shops on the prior Saturday, Marshfield businesses were asked to open their doors one hour earlier on the secondMonday of the month.
While the city as a whole had been supportive of the move, when businesses opened Monday morning, rumblings of discontent immediately filled the air.
By the afternoon, residents filled City Hall for an emergency meeting called by Mayor A.G. Felker.
Residents and business owners alike raised concerns that the new plan had brought to light. Women were forced to rise early to prepare a hot breakfast, pack a lunch for their spouse, and then later make another meal to accommodate the remaining members of their family.
Others stated that the move created an afternoon too hot for outside work and an early bedtime when it was still too warm to sleep.
The city immediately repealed daylight saving time and resumed normal operating hours.
United States pioneers remained opposed to the concept until March of 1918 when it was enacted nationwide as a wartime move.
Daylight saving was repealed in 1919 but returned during World War II.
After the war, it was repealed once again and was administered by state and local governments. The action created a confusing system of time management within the country.
In order to systemize daylight saving, the United States government introduced the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to regulate the start and end times of the nation’s plan while still allowing state control.
Today Hawaii and Arizona are the only two states in the country that do not use daylight saving time.
Kris Leonhardt may be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 51, Marshfield, WI 54449 or email at [email protected]