• The first Harvey House opened in 1876 in Topeka, Kansas.
  • At the height of his empire, Harvey had established 23 hotels and 54 dining rooms.
  • At first, men served as waiters. But after a midnight brawl in New Mexico in 1883, Fred Harvey followed his manager’s advice to hire women because they’d be less likely “to get liquored up.”
  • Although the ads didn’t specify, he meant white women of good character. Harvey Houses never hired blacks and seldom hired Hispanics or Indians to be Harvey Girls.
  • A reporter for the Leavenworth Times in 1905 wrote, “The girls at a Fred Harvey place never look dowdy, frowsy, tired, slipshod or overworked. They are expecting you—clean collars, clean aprons, hands and faces washed, nails manicured— “
  • According to Lesley Poling-Kempes, author of The Harvey Girls, from 1883 until the late 1950s, when train travel lost out to the private automobile and airlines, and most Harvey Houses closed, some 100,000 young women had signed contracts to become Harvey Girls.
  • Harvey Girls often worked 12-hour days—usually split shifts scheduled around train schedules—six or seven days a week.