Qualitative in-depth interviews with 30 African-American women were conducted to examine the contemporary meanings of leisure within the context of lifelong work histories. Respondents followed a pattern of unpaid agricultural work in childhood, paid work in mostly domestic and service jobs as adults, and volunteer work in church and senior centers as retirees. The women continued their history of self-reliance by incorporating their lifetime of hard work into their leisure experiences and service to self and others in old age.

Author notes

This research was supported by the National Institute of Health through the American Nurses' Association. We also thank Karla A. Henderson, University of North Carolina, for her insightful comments.