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Did You Know, November 6, 2023

Yesterday, with the end of daylight saving time, we gained an hour of sleep. The purpose of this time change is to gain more daylight in the mornings through most of the fall and winter and to add more daylight in the evenings through most of the spring and summer. Did you know that the Dahlgren Naval Base has not always participated in daylight saving time?

The April 7, 1960, edition of The Dahlgren Laboratory Log noted that, “as in 1959,” when the Washington metro area reverted to daylight saving time, the Naval Weapons Laboratory would continue on standard time. Related to that, the base commander, Captain T. H. Morton, invited each employee to complete a questionnaire stating their opinion on what the base’s work hours should be. In 1959, the “working hours were changed from 0730-1615 to 0700-1545…as a result of an employee survey.”

For a little background, standard time came into existence in the United States in 1883, when the heads of the railroads met to adopt a time standard before the government could do so. They feared that the government’s plan would not be advantageous to them. As the Wikipedia article on standard time relates, “The members agreed that on Sunday, November 18, 1883, all United States and Canadian railroads would readjust their clocks and watches to reflect the new five-zone system on a telegraph signal from the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh at exactly noon on the 90th meridian.” It wasn’t until 1918 that Congress passed a law to officially implement standard time, daylight saving time, and the borders of the American time zones.

Prior to the adoption of the Uniform Time Act in 1966, each state could choose when daylight saving time began and ended and, in some instances, which parts of the state would observe it. With the passing of the act, the beginning and ending dates were set nationally. (Although Hawaii, Arizona, and five of the U.S. territories do not participate in daylight saving time.)

Perhaps one day there will be no more daylight saving time; but, for now, attempts to do away with it have stalled in Congress.

We hope that you will use some of your time to visit the museum. We are open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm.

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