Americans on Vacation

Main Gallery, Lilly Library
June 18th 2017 to September 9th 2017
(All day)
Vintage image of passengers on a train from Americans on Vacation exhibit, summer 2017

A journey by train from Chicago to California. A week visiting grandparents.

Lounging on a sunny beach. Camping at a state park. A ski trip during winter school break.

The word “vacation” means something different to everyone. It can conjure up memories of childhood trips or future plans for a getaway. It can also remind us of the vacations we haven’t taken, through lack of time or money or both. This exhibition explores the history of Americans on vacation from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s. It tells the stories of elite travelers, writers looking for a change of scenery, and kids at day camp. It also delves into the history of paid vacation which allowed working people the time and resources to get away, as well as the historical challenges faced by African-American travelers in the era of Jim Crow. Viewers can read letters from travelers, learn about the history of travel guidebooks, and explore how vacations worked before the time of Google Maps and online boarding passes.


Curators: Erika Dowell. Hosted by: Lilly Library.

Today's Hours

9:00am - 6:00pm All hours


  • Building Access Front entrance facing Showalter Fountain is fully accessible. Building Access

Contact Info

1200 E Seventh Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
812-855-3143 (Fax)
Joel Silver
Joel Silver - Director, Librarian
(812) 855-2452