Daylight Saving Time Affected Monroe County

By Amy Leiser
Executive Director, Monroe County Historical Association

Daylight Saving Time and its enactment in Monroe County have an interesting history. In 1917, the United States Congress passed Daylight Saving Time for the entire nation as a means to conserve energy and resources during World War I. Estimates from the early 1900s suggested that working the entire daylight hours would not only increase productivity in the workforce, but also mark a decrease in use of gas, electricity, and coal. This excess of natural resources would be used to support the American military and their efforts in Europe.

Germany had enacted its own Daylight Saving Time in 1915, and Great Britain followed in 1917. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin discussed the idea of “daylight savings” in an essay he had written in 1784. Following the end of World War I in 1918, Congress repealed the Daylight Saving Act in August 1919.

After Congress repealed the Daylight Saving Act, states were free to enact their own policies and laws. In 1929, Pennsylvania did just that. The Pennsylvania Legislature supported the notion of daylight saving by ruling that the decision to enact it should be held at the local levels of Pennsylvania government. Each county, after consulting with each borough and township, would determine if the county would participate in Daylight Saving or not.

It quickly became apparent that this would be a difficult task. The Borough of East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg immediately began to disagree. The Stroudsburg Council favored Daylight Saving Time while the East Stroudsburg Council opposed the proposal. Each borough government had their own special interest groups to satisfy. From the schools and manufacturing companies to bankers and municipal officials, it appeared Monroe County citizens had their own opinions. Many felt Monroe County should follow the decision of neighboring counties such as Pike, Carbon and Northampton, while others disagreed.

Almost immediately, Monroe County citizens began to take sides, and East Stroudsburg and Stroudsburg continued to be divided. The first civic organization to attempt to solve the problem was the Lions Club. On April 20, 1929, Lions Club members drafted seven resolutions and submitted them to each Borough Council. At their April 22nd meeting, both boroughs met to review the resolutions presented by the Lions Club – nothing was resolved. The Morning Press newspaper headline read, “Lions Take Militant Stand For Fast Time.” (“Fast Time” was the wartime term for Daylight Saving. The Kiwanis Club was undecided on the issue, and both the Rotary Club and the Elks favored Daylight Saving Time.

Amid the debate, local businesses began to establish their own times of operation, causing much confusion for both consumers and employees. Town clocks remained unchanged while churches offered two services – one for followers of Standard Time, one for followers of Daylight Saving Time. Theater owners chose not to become embroiled in the controversy and offered shows at alternating times. County property sales were announced in Standard Time, and auctioneer Wayne Posten also conducted his business on Standard Time. During the second week of Daylight Saving Time, Monroe County newspapers printed 25 names of East Stroudsburg businesses not operating under Daylight Saving Time.

This confusion would last the entire summer of 1929; some Monroe County Citizens lived under Daylight Saving Time, others under Standard Time. Eventually, the debate settled down, and today, all of Monroe County follows Daylight Saving Time.

On August 5, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This Act moved Daylight Saving Time to the second Sunday in March and to the first Sunday in November. (Previously, Daylight Saving Time ran from March to October.) Arizona and Hawaii still do not participate in Daylight Saving.

More information: