The Harvey Girls will be the topic of a Sunday afternoon at the Harvey County Historical Society.

At 2 p.m. Nov. 19 the museum will host a Kansas Humanities Council presentation about The Harvey Girls — just blocks from the location of a former Harvey House Resturant that was operated at the Newton Train Station. The Historical Society is located at 203 N. Main.

Opened in 1882, the Harvey House in Newton served meals around the clock for nearly 75 years. The Newton location closed May 5, 1957.

The Harvey House chain of restaurants got its start in Topeka, Kansas, when Fred Harvey opened a café geared to those traveling on the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad line. Harvey, who ended up owning 20 hotels, 30 restaurants and 50 newsstands across the country, is considered to be the father of hospitality management.

Preferring the term “Harvey Girls” to waitresses, he recruited single women to work at the Harvey Houses that gradually sprang up all the way to California and Texas. Between the 1880s and the 1950s more than 100,000 women, many of them Kansans, proudly wore the black and white uniform of the internationally known Harvey Company.

The Harvey Girls were taken by train to a city to learn their duties, then signed a contract for a six-month or year-long assignment at a Harvey House. They were paid $17.50 per month and were provided a uniform, along with room and board. Harvey Girls lived in a dorm-style residence adjoining the restaurant, and were watched over by a house mother.

The presentation will explore the adventures of these pioneering young women.

Program presented by Michaeline Chance-Reay courtesy of the Kansas Humanities Council. The program is free.

For more information, contact museum curator Kristine Schmucker at or (316) 283-2221.