GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2000-03 > 0953849945
From: Judy McIntyre <>
Subject: Re: [GM-L] "Harvey Girls" - mill workers
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 14:19:05 -0800
Being a "rail fan" this was an easy one for me. The Harvey girls were
waitresses who worked for Fred Harvey. Harvey established a chain of
hotels and restaurants along the route of the railroad. The food in the
restaurants catered to the wealthy.
"In the early 1880s when conventional wisdom decreed that working women
were socially inferior and morally suspect, an English gentleman brought
the first of thousands of young women to the American West to work in
restaurants along the Santa Fe Railroad line. Preferring the term Harvey
Girl to waitress, Fred Harvey recruited single women between the ages of
18 and 30 to work 10-hour days serving 4-course meals in under 30
minutes at Harvey Houses from Kansas to California.
Harvey Girls usually lived above the Harvey Houses and were chaperoned
by a house mother. Their uniforms were modest, makeup and ewelry were
forbidden, and each Harvey Girl signed a year-long contract. In exchange
for these stringent rules, a Harvey Girl enjoyed room and board,
railroad passes, and job security. In the 70-year history of the Harvey
Houses, more than 100,000 women proudly wore the black-and-white uniform
of the Harvey Girls."
Source: Far From Home: West by Rail with the Harvey Girls, Book 1, by
Leslie Poling Kempes