Department Publication

Working At Play

A History of Vacations in the United States

Cindy S. Aron

Professor Emerita
( Oxford, May 2001 )

Most Americans take taking a vacation for granted, but in this fascinating study Aron shows that the idea of taking time away from work for leisure is a relatively recent development. She traces the growth of vacationing as a family and a social ritual. Beginning from when vacations were the privilege of the early nineteenth-century elite, she chronicles how vacations became a middle-class custom. Because one of Aron's interests is in how vacation resorts themselves became agents of change, she limits her survey to vacations taken within the U.S. and concludes it at the beginning of World War II. She also suggests that vacations stirred "cultural anxieties," that many "struggled with the notion of taking time off from work." Aron shows how many vacations were devoted to intellectual, religious, and therapeutic activities.

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904

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