Edited with an introduction by Alan R. Havig
Missourians spend their time away from work in a variety of ways. Video and computer gaming, attending sporting events and movies, exercising, or listening to music appeal to many of us. The articles in Filling Leisure Hours: Essays from the Missouri Historical Review, 1906-2006 discuss several of the pastimes enjoyed by Missourians during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Editor Alan Havig has selected essays that describe popular arts and entertainments rather than high culture amusements. Circus tours instead of opera performances and dance halls rather than ballet stages engage the writers of these thirteen selections. Even lawn care as leisure makes an appearance.
Through articles published between 1920 and 2006, Havig traces leisure time pursuits of rural residents and city dwellers. From antebellum circuses to theatrical productions staged by small-town organizations in the 1950s, the writers chronicled amusements that attracted Missourians “after the tasks of life are done.” In Springfield in the early 1910s, boxing gained prominence during the search for the “great white hope.” Kansas Citians danced, roller-skated, and attended amusement parks and movies during the same time period. Many of the state’s residents heard the distinctive voice and vocabulary of Dizzy Dean as he called major league baseball games.
In addition to describing amusements, the introduction and essays note the demise of many popular pastimes as taste and technology evolved. The editor and writers also examine a “problem” associated with leisure—oversight and censorship by governments and organizations that feared certain activities would have a negative impact on the participants or the larger society. Filling Leisure Hours provides a new lens for examining the role of popular arts and amusements in Missouri.
Third volume in the Century of Missouri History Scholarship Series
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Alan R. Havig is professor emeritus of history at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where he taught for thirty-nine years. He now serves as the college’s archivist. His publications include From Southern Village to Midwestern City: Columbia, an Illustrated History (1984), Fred Allen's Radio Comedy (1990), “It's a Proud Business”: A History of the Shelter Mutual Insurance Companies, 1946-1996 (1995), and A Centennial History of the State Historical Society of Missouri, 1898-1998 (1998).
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