The Harvey Girls and the railroads

In my lecture about finding railroad records that might relate to an ancestor, I discuss some of the railroad-connected jobs in which the workers were not directly employed by the railroads. I love to do this lecture and open the eyes of researchers eagerly looking for records, sharing tactics to take in “tracking” them down, and tell about the myriad of finding aids that are available. My handout for this lecture includes many websites.

One of the occupations I discuss is the Harvey Girls. You may have seen the 1940s movie with Judy Garland or read the book from that era. These women worked in the hotels and restaurants of Fred Harvey that served various stops along the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. Did you know about Lesley Poling-Kemps 1994 book, The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West?

My news feed today showed a link to an article about a new exhibit and a documentary film at the U.S. National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri.  “A documentary capturing first-person accounts of the famous Harvey Girls will premiere Friday at the National Archives in Kansas City in conjunction with an ongoing exhibit there. The free film, “The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound,” will be followed by a panel discussion by the film’s producers and other scholars.” Oh, do I wish I could be there in-person. The exhibit runs till next January 4th. I see a road trip in my future.

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To read the full articles in the online edition of the Kansas City Star, click here.

© 2013 – 2014, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

3 comments on “The Harvey Girls and the railroads

  1. Paula,
    My grandmother – Mary Ellen Harris – is on display as a life-size cutout at the Kansas City NARA Fred Harvey exhibit. She became a Harvey Girl right out of high school and worked for about a year.

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