Karen's Reviews > The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West

The Harvey Girls by Lesley Poling-Kempes
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Jul 24, 09


I picked up a copy of this book while I was at the Grand Canyon this spring (since we ate all of our meals at a Harvey hotel -- El Tovar). We also drove through many of the little railroad towns that are discussed in this book (e.g. Kingman, Seligman, etc.)

The history of Harvey's establishment and the first person accounts from Harvey employees were quite interesting. I can't help but wonder what it must have been like to be a 16 year old girl leaving my Kansas home to take a train to a desert town in New Mexico to start a new life. I'm a sucker for these historical stories.

While Harvey's hiring practices were certainly discriminatory by today's standards (he rarely hired Native Americans or Mexicans despite their large communities in the southwest), the respect and fairness he offered women in the late 19th and early 20th century was incredibly uncommon.

A very interesting, enjoyable read.
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