Service with Style

Each day, KHC  features the hot topics and great speakers in the Speakers Bureau catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” by Michaeline Chance-Reay.

Harvey Girls in Syracuse, Kansas, c. 1920.
Photo courtesy of, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Harvey House restaurants along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway offered single young women in Kansas a reputable means of employment from the late 1800s through the early 1950s. Dressed in the iconic black and white uniforms, the “Harvey Girls” were the epitome of efficiency and grace as they served meals on fine china to rail travelers in the elegant Harvey House dining rooms.

But, what was it like to be a Harvey Girl? In “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style,” Michaeline Chance-Reay explores the job duties, pay scales, and working conditions of the Harvey Girls and compares them with other occupations available to single women during that time period.

Michaeline Chance-Reay

Michaeline Chance-Reay

“I became interested in the Harvey Girls when I visited the Grand Canyon and saw their exhibit,” shared Chance-Reay, who teaches Women’s Studies and Education at Kansas State University. “How wonderful it was to discover ‘it all started in Topeka’ with Fred Harvey’s restaurant. The real success of the Harvey Company can be attributed not only to the food offered but also to the over 100,000 lovely women employees who guaranteed repeat customers and made history.”

Interested in learning more? “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” will be presented in Topeka on December 1.

Bring Michaeline Chance-Reay’s “The Harvey Girls’ Service with Style” or one of the other presentations in the Speakers Bureau catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC program officer, for more information.