Menu JTA Search

J.D.B. News Letter

Download PDF for this date

(By our Washington Correspondent)

Jewish religious leaders are greatly interested in the recent formation here of a National committee on Calendar Simplification which is charged with the task of formulating a plan for ascertaining the sentiment of the people of the United States for the reform of the calendar. This effort is being made in connection with the project proposed by the League of Nations to change the calendar.

George Eastman, chairman of the Committee, announced that the data which will be gathered by the committee, which was formed at the suggestion of the Secretary of State after the project had been proposed by the League of Nations, will be summarized in a report to be submitted to the Secretary of State at Washington to the Secretary of State at Washington, which will present a basis for later participation by the United States in an International Conference to decide the calendar question.

The national committee as composed of representatives of various Government departments, of American industry, banking, journalism and transportation. Dr. C. F. Marvin, chief of the Weather Bureau and appointed by the Department of Agriculture and State as chief representative of the United States on the committee, is vice-chairman.

Following the meeting, Dr. Marvin stated that the committee had been organized in accord with a request by the League of Nations that each country report on the sentiment existing among its nationals for the reform of the calendar.

At the meeting, committees were appointed representing various phases of American social and business life: commerce, transportation, labor, agriculture, women, social and journalism. These committees will send out questionaries and take other steps to ascertain the setiment of the group which they represent for the reform of the calendar.

The committee, acording to Dr. Marvin. confirmed the election of Mr. Eastman as chairman, Dr. Marvin as vice-chairman, and Colonel O. N. Solbert as secretary.

Those who attended the meeting were: Mr. Eastman, Dr. Marvin, Dr. C. K. Burgess, Chief of the Bureau of Standards; David E. Finley, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury; Ethelbert Stewart, Commissioner of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor; Mary Anderson, Chief of Women’s Bureau, Department of Labor; Dr. Max O. Lorenz, Interstate Commerce Committee; Dr. Fred E. Wright, National Academy of Sciences, and David Lawrence.

In addition to the National Committee for the United States, the National Academy of Sciences has appointed a special committee on calendar. The Chamber of Commerce of the United States, the American Bar Association, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, and other important organizations have taken similar action. The Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York has approved of the callini of an international conference on calendar revision.

The Committee of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States will study and report on the necessity for calendar revision from the standpoint of commerce, finance, industry and transportation. It is well equipped for this task, as the members represent diversified interests and various sections of the country. The scientific and legal aspects of calendar simplification will receive special consideration at the hands of distinguished specialists.

The request which the League of Nations addressed to Secretary of State Kellogg is the outcome of three years study of the calendar question by the Committee of Inquiry which the League appointed in 1923 at the request of the International Chamber of Commerce to make a thorough examination of the calendar situation. This Committee of Inquiry analyzed 185 proposals submitted by thirty-eight nations and embodied its conclusions in a report in which it is recommended that national committees be formed in the various countries to study and report on calendar reform.

The United States not being a member of the League of Nations, Secretary Kellogg suggested to Mr. Eastman on January 4, 1928, that the national committee on calendar simplification, as requested by the League, be formed under his direction. He stated that after consultation with interested Government Departments and Bureaus he saw no obstacle to the formation of an unofficial committee similar to the one created in this country in 1925 for the purpose of collaborating with the Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League Nations.

“While this Government is not in a position actively to participate in the creation of such a committee,” he said, “you are, of course, at liberty to seek the unofficial cooperation of the interested Federal Departments or Bureaus in the selection of members to serve on the proposed national committee.”

Mr. Kellogg further suggested as a liaison in the formation of the Government section of the National committee, Dr. C. F. Marvin of the United States Weather Bureau. Department of Agriculture, who has long been actively interested in the subject of calendar adjustment.

The procedure when the National Committees of the different countries have reached their conclusions is for an international conference to be called similar to the Washington convention called by President Arthur in 1884 which established Standard Time. The agreement on calendar revision at the international conference will take the form of a treaty, to become effective at a date determined upon, which when ratified by a government will become the law of the land. The transfer of dates from the old to the new calendar, maturity dates of contracts and other legal items will be covered by appropriate conversion tables.

Recent official approvals of calendar simplification have been received by George Eastman from the International Association of Machinists. 134,000 members, and the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, 130,000 members. Other labor organizations have previously gone on record in a similar way.

At the Pan American Conference just held at Havana, the matter of calendar simplification was presented to the delegates from the various nations by Moses B. Cotsworth, originator of the International Fixed Calendar of thirteen equal months and the expert on calendar, who examined the proposal submitted to the League of Nations.

At the plenary session February 18, 1928, the following resolution was unanimously adopted by the delegates of the twenty-one nations:

“That it be recommended to the countries, members of the Pan American Union, that they each appoint a National Committee with a view to studying the proposal relative to the simplification of the calendar, and that they make the necessary preparations in order to participate in an International Conference to determine which is the best method of reform.”

Similar action to that of the United States in forming its national committee on calendar simplification is being taken by countries abroad.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund