Office of Public Affairs

Bischof talks time and daylight saving with Maine Public

USM’s Libby Bischof joined a radio panel that explained the history and some pros and cons of daylight saving time on Maine Public’s “Maine Calling.”

Neither daylight saving nor time zones existed for most of the 19th century, said Bischof, a professor of history and the executive director of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education. 

“We didn’t get time zones  — eastern, central, mountain and pacific —  until 1883,” Bischof said. The reason was a growing network of trains and they needed a set, widely agreed upon schedule. 

“All time was local and solar,” she said. “The railroads came in, and they tried to standardize 55 different times. There was no common schedule. It was a mess.”

For more than thirty years, many people kept two times, train time and local time. Then, in 1918, Congress passed the Standard Time Act. It standardized the time and created daylight saving.