The Harvey Girls



Cynthia is giving away a copy of An unconventional Lady

to one lucky responder.

(Sorry, due to postage and customs, giveaway is for US only.)

*Due to technical difficulties on Saturday, we invited Cynthia to extend her stay at the Junction through Monday. So you still have time to get in the drawing for her fabulous new book. YeeHaw!

Scottish immigrant, Fred Harvey, was disgusted by the service and food preparation by restaurants along the Santa Fe railroad and decided to make a difference. He opened his first location in Kansas and restaurant service along the railroad would never be the same. Harvey was known for hiring local contractors to make the hotels fit their surroundings.


Harvey advertised in Eastern and Mid-western newspapers and magazines for single moral women between the ages of seventeen and thirty to be waitresses in his Harvey Houses. Over one hundred thousand women worked in his employ until the mid-1950s. While the women were told what to wear, what to do, how to wear their hair, and not to marry during their six-month contract, these brave women loved their independence. Over half of them chose to stay out west and help settle the country after their contracts were up, earning them the name “Women Who Tamed the West”.untitled


The women had to be of good moral character, have at least an eighth grade education, display good manner and be neat and articulate to work in his restaurants. In return for employment, the Harvey Girls would agree to a six-month contract, agree not to marry, and abide by all company rules during the term of employment. If hired, they were given a rail pass to get to their chosen destination. Harvey Girls were the women who brought further respectability to the work of waitressing. They left the protection and poverty of home for the opportunity to travel and earn their own way in life, while experiencing a bit of adventure.


untitled 2I chose to write a series of four books, spread out over the time span of the Fred Harvey Company to enlighten readers as to these brave, hard-working women. In An Unconventional Lady, the story takes place at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. This hotel is still running today with its waitresses still dressed in the familiar uniform of Harvey girls.

Multi-published and Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She has several historical romances releasing in 2013 and 2014 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and two cats. She has five grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”.

An Unconventional Lady cover

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28 thoughts on “The Harvey Girls”

  1. I am sorry to say I have not read your work before but this book sounds awesome and I would love to read it. I will be checking out your works. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  2. I love the Harvey Girls stories. I have read a couple now and love them. Thanks, Cynthia, for sharing.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  3. I find the Harvey Girls quite interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    melback at cebridge dot net

  4. What a wonderful opportunity for a young woman of the time. There weren’t many opportunities for respectable women to travel and have a bit of adventure. It was certainly a more pleasant journey to take the train rather than trudge across the plains beside a covered wagon. They had the chance to be independent and have some control over their future. That was a rare thing for women of the time and something we take for granted today.
    I’ll be looking for this series.

  5. I’ve always found the Harvey Girls to be interesting (after watching a movie with Judy Garland playing a Harvey Girl)but never really knew much about them. Thank you for sharing their history. I would love to win a copy of your book. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  6. I love stories of the Harvey Girls. What brave women to do those jobs. I bet it was hard to not get married – meeting men every day I’m sure they found some good ones. lol

  7. I love stories like this. I’ve only read one other book about the Harvey girls. Looking forward to this one.

  8. Harvey Girls were a huge part of settling the West. Thanks for your research….I’m looking forward to reading your books about them!

  9. I have read about the Harvey girls before, but would love to read more. I had not heard of them before that. Thanks for sharing.

  10. I knew there was a movie musical called the “Harvey Girls” with Judy Garland but that was all I knew since I have yet to see it. I would love to know more.

  11. I haven’t heard of the Harvey Girls, but I’m looking forward to reading about them.

  12. I enjoyed learning about the Harvey Girls. I read that they were a great presence in the west. Thanks for your illuminating topic which I enjoyed greatly.

  13. These gals have always interested me. Didn’t they also have a bit to do with the trains and the early expansion across the country and the opening of the West? Your book sounds like a must-read for me. Thanks for sharing.

  14. l live in Arizona and have been to El Tovar several times. The Grand Canyon should be on everybody’s bucket list. It is amazing no matter what time of day or season of the year you visit.
    Interesting information about the Harvey girls

  15. Good Monday morning, Cynthia. I’m glad you were able to stay with us another day. I’ve always loved the story of the Harvey Girls. Best of luck with An Unconventional Lady!

  16. Cynthia, I’ve read a lot of books where the Harvey Girls added so much to the story. I like how he wanted only women of good moral character. Even the barest whisper of scandal led to their dismissal. He had very high standards but was a fair man from all I’ve heard. He changed how a lot of restaurants were run. His were clean. I guess you can say he was the first McDonald’s! LOL

    Thank you for extending your stay with us. We deeply apologize for our technical problems over the weekend.

    Wishing you the best.

  17. I remember seeing an old black and white movie about the Harvey Girls with I think Judy Garland in it. As I remember it was a fairly good film. They served a great need for the times.

  18. What a wonderful setting! I looked up quite a few photographs through Google. Thanks for offering a copy of your book.

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