It's Time to Spring Ahead!

In honor of the belief that Daylight Saving Time was designed to benefit farmers, here is one of the paintings from our collection of California artworks.
Rural California, 1940
Evylena Nunn Miller (American, 1888-1966)
Oil on Canvas; 30 x 36 1/2 in.
Gift of Evylena Nunn Miller 

This landscape with white barn, tall eucalyptus trees, farm wagons and equipment is now a period work of a view seldom seen. It is thought that this work was painted along Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, a favorite area of the artist. It is signed in the lower left, E. Nunn Miller. This painting is from 1940 and is oil applied with brush on canvas. The artist, Evylena Nunn Miller, grew up locally in Santa Ana and taught at Pomona College and throughout Southern California.

Nunn Miller was born in 1888 in Kansas, but moved to Southern California in the early 1900's, and graduated from Santa Ana High School in 1908. After getting her Bachelor’s degree with honors in art, she became a local high school art teacher. She traveled the world writing stories about and drawing sketches of her adventures. She married Howard Earl Miller in 1923, and they frequented the US National parks where she painted en plein air. She was very active in bolstering her local arts community including serving as a member of the Bowers Museum Foundation Board. In 1955 she made a donation that helped instigate plans for a large museum renovation. She passed away in 1966 in Santa Ana and was survived by her husband.

While many people consider daylight saving time to have been created by Thomas Jefferson for the benefit of farmers, both those counts are actually incorrect. Thomas Jefferson was living in Paris in 1784 when he had the idea that if Parisians woke up earlier they could save money by not relying as much on candlelight. He didn’t actually propose changing the time. The idea of daylight saving was only implemented because of World War One. While it was an Englishman who in 1905 campaigned for England to adopt the saving of time, it was Germany who adopted the idea first. By changing the times of regular business to include an ‘extra’ hour of sunlight, the country was able to save on electricity costs. England adopted daylight saving the following year in 1917.

In the United States, daylight saving time was not implemented until 1918 – again because of wartime conservation. However, farmers were some of the fiercest opponents to the change. Schedules on farms are set by the sun, not by the clock. The change in hours of operation for markets and railways and expectations of laborers disrupted the farmers’ daily routines. It is actually traditional businesses and urbanites that benefit the most from daylight saving.

The US Congress voted to repeal daylight saving in 1919, but even after its repeal there were still cities and states that maintained their own versions of daylight saving. In this period, lasting decades, each city or state set its own calendar of when to “fall back” or “spring ahead” – rather than the federal government. This created more than a little chaos, especially for travelers, transporters, and distributors. It wasn’t until 1966 with the Uniform Time Act that daylight saving was normalized across the country.
Text and images may be under copyright. Please contact Collection Department for permission to use. Information subject to change upon further research.
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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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