Route 66 News

Harvey Girls documentary to debut in Kansas City

A new documentary, “The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound,” will debut at 6:30 p.m. June 21 at the National Archives in Kansas City, Mo.

The film, directed by Katrina Parks and produced by Katrina and Michael Parks and Thaddeus Homan, will be part of the “Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West” exhibition that runs through Jan. 4.

Here’s a trailer for the film:

Here’s a description of the film from the National Archives:

The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound is a new documentary film that explores the Harvey Girls and how these waitresses helped open the doors of both the West and the workplace to women. In 1946, MGM turned the Harvey Girls into legend when they released the motion picture The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland. Until now, this fictional Hollywood movie has been the only film to immortalize the Harvey Girls.Opportunity Bound examines this important part of America’s history in much greater depth, and tells the story of the Harvey Girls using the voices of those closest to them, including rare interviews with the few remaining Harvey Girls and author and expert on Fred Harvey, Stephen Fried. In addition, the film explores the life of Fred Harvey and his company which left its mark by not only providing work opportunities for women, but by being among the first companies to promote cultural diversity in the workplace by hiring Hispanic and Native American women to be waitresses along with their Anglo peers.

A panel discussion about the Harvey Girls will start a half-hour before the film’s screening. Among those on the panel are Stephen Fried, who wrote the terrific “Appetite for America” book about the history of the Fred Harvey Co. My review of Fried’s book is here.

Although it was a railroad-related business, Fred Harvey’s operation left fingerprints all over the Route 66 corridor. Among the attractions along or near the Mother Road are Union Station in Chicago and St. Louis; La Fonda in Santa Fe; La Castaneda in Las Vegas, N.M.; El Garces in Needles, Calif.; Casa del Desierto in Barstow, Calif.; Fray Marcos in Williams, Ariz.; Painted Desert Inn in Arizona; El Tovar at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim; and La Posada in Winslow, Ariz.

The event is free, but it’s recommended that you call 816-268-8010 or email kansascity(dot)educate(at)nara(dot)gov for reservations.

(Hat tip: Ken Youden)


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