Women's History

Entertaining the Harvey Girls … A New Documentary Experience

The Fred Harvey Company, in reaction to growing tensions between staff and customers, decided to bring out women from the East and Midwest to stay in dormitories and work in their restaurants on an initial 6-month contract. The Harvey Girls were an instant hit, and many women stayed on, requesting further employment and marrying locals. Ultimately, this workforce spanned almost 100 years and involved over 100,000 women … many of the Fred Harvey Company’s most prominent restaurants and buildings which were designed by their chief building designer, Mary Colter. Colter was way ahead of her time, not only in her chosen profession, but also in her unique aesthetic which fused Native American and Hispanic Southwestern traditions. Colter’s work is still in evidence at The Grand Canyon in Arizona, La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona and at Union Station in Los Angeles, California.