The Importance of Calendar Reform to the Business World – George Eastman (1926) 

By George Eastman, President Eastman-Kodak Company
George Eastman - 1926
George Eastman – 1926

Business men are becoming more and more dependent upon accounting and statistical records for the proper conduct of their affairs. It, therefore becomes increasingly important that the periods of time, which form the bases for all records, should be invariable. The day and the week are invariable and the year practically so, but the month, the quarter and the half-years are not equal and uniform.

Defects in Present Calendar

The variation in the length of the months causes the most difficulty to businesses, There is a difference of 11 percent between the length of February and of March. there is a greater difference between the number of working days and working days are the important factor in industry. Chart No, 1 shows the number of working days in each month of 1926, allowance being made for Sundays and holidays but no allowance for Saturday and half-holidays.Num Working Days Per Month in 1926 - George Eastman 1926

There is a variation from 23 working days in February to 27 in March, or a difference of 17 per cent. If, for instance, output or sales of a concern were uniform throughout the year, the monthly reports would show the same variation as the chart, and obviously the manager would get a misleading impression. For instance, in May he would think that operations had decreased for two months. All monthly comparisons are upset by this variation, and it is expensive to make the necessary adjustments.

Another feature of our calendar which causes great difficulty is that the month is not an exact multiple of the week, some months having four weeks  and some give weeks. Chart No. 2 shows the number of Saturdays and likewise the number of weeks per month during 1926. This variation in the number of pay-days per year causes an endless amount of confusion and adjustment for the manufacturer in interpreting his monthly cost and burden reports.

Num Saturdays in 1926 - George Eastman 1926
Num Saturdays in 1926 – George Eastman 1926

This variation especially upsets monthly comparison in those lines of business in which week-end operations are heavy, as in certain retail stores and railroads. There is also confusion in those small stores that make collections on a weekly basis and pay on a monthly basis, and corresponding confusion for those families whose income is on a monthly basis and whose expenses are on a weekly basis.

In addition to these outstanding defects there are other features of the present calendar which cause confusions. There can be a difference of three days in the two half-years and of two days in two quarters of the same year. Holidays occur on various days of the week, changing each year; shutdowns for holidays occurring in the middle of the week are expensive in certain plants. Complications arise in setting regular dates for meetings in providing for holiday that fall on Sunday and in reckoning the passage of time, as, for instance, in interest calculations.

The “Wandering” Easter, another objectionable feature of the present calendar, causes the church year to be of varying length and sometimes causes dislocation in certain lines of business. Early Easters often cut down the volume of Easter retail trading and sometimes bring unemployment in the clothing and shoe industries.

In view of all of these defects, the question immediately arises as to why the calendar should not be changed. The length of the months in the present calendar was not based upon a well-though-out plan.

Origin of Present Calendar

The Gregorian calendar had its origin in the calendar devised by the Egyptians. The Egyptian calendar was developed through years of study of the length and direction of the noonday shadows case by the pyramids. The Egyptians determined the true length of the year – 365.242 days – and divided it into twelve months of thirty days each with the five extra days (or 6 extra days in Leap Years) devoted to festival holidays.

Julius Caesar adopted the Egyptian Calendar for the Roman Empire, but instead of continuing the equal months, he took care of the five extra days by adding one day to every other month – i.e. January, March, May, July, September, and November, “because odd numbers were lucky” – and by taking one day off February. Augustus Caesar, in order to have thirty-one days  in the month of his birthday (August) moved the twenty-ninth day of February to August. On account of the unequal quarter which this change made, October and December were made 31-day months, instead of September and November.

When the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in 1582 (in 1752 by England and her colonies), no change was made in the months, the only change from the Julian calendar being the arrangement for Leap Years.

All the defects in the Gregorian calendar are due to these three features: (1) the months are unequal: (2) the month is not an exact multiple of the wee: (3)  the ordinary year consists of 365 days, just one day over 52 weeks.

Several plans have been proposed to eliminate these features, but the plan which seems to have the most advantages and to be the most practical from the point of view of modern business is the Cotsworth Calendar.

The Cotsworth Calendar

In brief, the plan is to have thirteen standard months, with each month as follows:

The new month will be inserted between June and July, as at that time of the year the change will cause  the least confusion in the respect to the seasons. The 365th day will be December 29th but will have no week-day name. December 29th, to be known as “Year Day”, will be inserted between Saturday, December 28th and Sunday, January 1st. In a like manner, in Leap Year the extra day will be placed between June 28th and the first day of the new month.

The Cotsworth Calendar
Standard Month
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

All the defects referred it can be overcome by this plan. The proposed calendar will have the following advantages over the present calendar:

  1. All months would have the same number of days (28), the same number of working days, except for holidays, and the same number of Sundays.
  2. All months would have exactly 4 weeks.
  3. Each week-day would always occur on the same four fixed dates of the month.
  4. Quarter-years and half-years would be of the same length.
  5. The month would always end on a Saturday.
  6. A holiday would always occur on the same week-day.
  7. The date of Easter could be fixed.
  8. Yearly calendars would not be longer; one fixed monthly calendar would be sufficient.

These features would be of great benefit to business, accounting and statistical, for all months would be comparable without any adjustments. The month of the exactly four weeks would obviate many of the adjustments no necessary between found and five-week months. the reckoning for the lapse of time for interest and other purposes would be simplified. Meeting dates could be set in advance without difficulty. all holidays could be placed on Monday with advantage to industry and workers. A fixed Easter would prevent undesirable fluctuations in certain industries.

A Faster Money Turnover

As there would be thirteen monthly settlements during the year instead of twelve, there would be a faster turnover in money; the same annual volume of business could be handled with less money.

Any calendar change would cause a certain amount of inconvenience during the first year or two after its adoption. There would be difficulty in making comparisons between the months of the new calendar and the corresponding months of the old calendar. Adjustment tables, however would considerably reduce the time necessary for making these computations. All anniversary dates, birthdays, and holidays would be changes, but there would be little actual difficulty in determining these dates by adjustment tables.

The legal difficulties due to changes in maturity dates of leases, contracts, and mortgages could be easily overcome by appropriate acts of the legislatures.

The inconveniences and difficulties which would be experienced during the first few years of the new calendar are comparatively slight compared with the many advantages which would be obtained in the business, social, and religious worlds by the adoption of the proposed calendar.

In 1922 the League of Nations appointed a Committee of Inquiry to study the question of Calendar reform. More than 130 different proposals were submitted to the committee, but the Cotsworth plan is the one outstanding proposal which meets the needs of business. It has already been endorsed by a number of  business organizations such as the the International Chamber of commerce, New York Merchants Associate, American Statistical Associate, and is fast gaining favor among business men for their records and area already gaining some of the advantages.


Notes: With great thanks to Archive.org for having access to this publication: Nation’s Business 1926-05 (May 1926) which allowed me access to this article which was written by George Eastman of Eastman Kodak: The Importance of Calendar Reform to the Business World – George Eastman (1926)[PDF]) (pgs 42 and 46), because I had a hell of a time trying to find this anywhere on the interwebs!

OCR‘ing did not work in the PDF so I had to transcribe this myself – for myself, for posterity, and so others can find it easier. If there are any transcription errors they are my own. Please let me know so I can correct them.

If I could easily convert something to HTML or update the graphics for ease of reading and not change the content then I tried to do so. Chart #2 was easy enough to do. I used the following link to assist with Chart #1: Calendar for Year 1926 (United States) from TimeAndDate.com as well as some comparative analysis using Photoshop.