Time keeping in the United States, indeed, in many parts of the world, was very much a local option based on the movement of the Sun, until railroads began to cross great distances in short amounts of time. The variations in local times caused confusion to travelers and employees alike, so in 1883, the railroads established a standardized time for the country, allowing for movement of the Sun by creating time zones.
Some areas were reluctant to have big business, in the form of railroads, dictating something as personal as time, but by the time of World War I, so much of the country had accepted it that when the Calder Act was passed in 1918, it was just a legal acknowledgment of what was common practice. However, the Calder Act also established Daylight Saving Time, which did not meet with approval by many and was repealed in 1919.
The advent of World War II resurrected the idea of Daylight Saving Time, making it year-round in an effort to conserve energy. The end of the war signaled the end of Daylight Saving Time as a standard, but communities were allowed to use it as a local option, usually from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in September, although some areas extended it to the last Sunday in October.
The Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966, which standardized DST as the last Sunday of April to the last Sunday in October. States were allowed to opt out, and Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, and Michigan did so. Over the years since, some of these states have opted in and and out, as the various populations pushed. Indiana finally went to all DST in 2006, after many years of wrangling in the state legislature.
Daylight Saving Time has had an impact on many lives through the years. My uncle, a farmer in Kentucky, railed against it every year. His day, like that of most farmers and many others, ran by when the Sun came up in the mornings, and altering the pattern of the day seemed foolish. My father always considered my oldest sister's birth day "wrong" because she was born during WWII, and without DST, she would have shared her birthday with George Washington. But growing up, I never minded Daylight Saving Time. With a birthday in late October, it was thrilling to a 13-year old to have an extra hour in her birthday!
So use this extra hour this fall to consider what effect standardized time and DST have had on you and your family, and remember to pass those stories along to the next generation!