House of Opportunity

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “The Harvey Girls’ Multicultural Workforce ” by Michaeline Chance-Reay.

Staff at the Fred Harvey House in El Paso, Texas, c. 1950. Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Staff at the Fred Harvey House in El Paso, Texas, c. 1950. Image from kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

The Fred Harvey Company not only hired recent immigrants to work in their famous Harvey House restaurants, they actively recruited them. Eventually African American workers became a part of the workforce, and during World War II American Indians and Mexican Americans were hired as well. This restaurant work along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad lines, provided reputable work for women who had few choices in the workforce. Michaeline Chance-Reay’s presentation will explore the job duties and working conditions of Harvey Girls from 1876 to the early 1950s.

Michaeline Chance-Reay

Michaeline Chance-Reay

“Women in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries who wanted jobs or careers outside of the home had few choices,” said Chance-Reay, “but the Harvey Company offered unique opportunities. It was demanding work but also offered a decent salary in a protected environment, in addition to travel and adventure.”

Michealine Chance-Reay teaches coures in Women’s Studies and Education at Kansas State University. Her current research focuses on the Harvey Girls and historic sites on the K-State campus, especially those related to women.

You can attend Michaeline Chance Reay’s “The Harvey Girls’ Multicultural Workforce” on Tuesday, July 29th in Dodge City. You can also bring this topic or one of the other presentations in the Humanities 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, director of programs, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.