Spare Time, Leisure and Recreation in Alabama, 1890-1950

- Robb, Frances*
This slide presentation overviews the intriguing subject: How did Alabamians use their spare time in bygone days, and how did these activities (and time to pursue them) change? Between 1890 and 1950, Alabama saw profound cultural change. By 1890, as the work week shortened for office and factory workers, the idea that the “good life” included time for hobbies, leisure and recreation emerged across America. This presentation explores traditional spare-time activities between 1890 and 1950 and introduces emerging leisure activities. The ideal of an 8-hour, 5-day week entered the national consciousness—and with it, the possibility of leisure at the end of the workday and on weekends. Alabamians visited with friends and family; played games; relaxed; and read books, newspapers and magazines. They took up hobbies like needlecraft and snapshooting. They gardened. They hunted and fished for sport, did charity and church work, joined clubs and put on plays. New activities emerged, including amateur sports, going to the movies, recreational shopping and window-shopping. As more people owned cars and trucks, recreational driving became significant, with other activities, like camping, which let Alabamians enjoy experiences of nature.

This presentation will be available in slides and as PowerPoint. For groups that do not have equipment, Robb can provide a slide projector and a screen.