Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.
After many years of consideration around the World, Imperial Germany became the first country to institute Daylight Saving Time. On April 6, 1916, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) passed an order directing a change in the clocks to “add” an hour of daylight to the day during the months of May through September.
The U.S. embassy in Berlin reported this initiative in the following despatch that enclosed a translation of the notice of the order:
Shortly after Germany instituted daylight saving time, Austria-Hungary did the same. On May 1, 1916, the U.S. embassy reported that the “Daylight Saving plan so long agitated in Europe” went into effect by imperial decree. Four days later, the embassy sent a copy and translation of the decree of the Joint ministry of Austria implementing the decree in the following despatch:
 U.S. Embassy Germany to Department of State, Despatch 2870, April 8, 1916, file 862.92511, 1910-29 Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State. The Department sent a copy to the Secretary of the Navy for the information of the Naval Observatory. See Counselor Frank L. Polk to the Secretary of the Navy, April 27, 1916, file 862.92511/1, 1910-29 Central Decimal File, RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.