The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound is a new documentary film that explores how the Harvey Girls, who worked as waitresses along the transcontinental railways in the USA from 1880 onwards, helped open the doors of both the American West and the workplace to women.

The film details how Fred Harvey and his company radically changed America’s West by not only providing work opportunities for women, but also 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.

The Harvey Girls, whose workforce continued to flourish until the Sixties, were true pioneers and set a new standard of excellence for women in the workplace, paving the way for generations of independent young women to come.

As a non-American I’d never heard of the Harvey Girls – or the 1946 MGM movie The Harvey Girls starring Judy Garland – but the story of these female pioneers touched a real cord with me. Filmmaker Katrina Parks has interviewed the last remaining Harvey Girls, now in their Eighties and Nineties, whose interviews combined with documentary footage make a fascinating documentary, not just about what life was like for a Harvey Girl, but about what life was like in America from the 1880s until the Sixties for a woman wanting to work in general.

Truly fascinating, I highly recommend it!

One Response

  1. Elizabeth

    Harvey Girls is one of my favorite Judy Garland movies, and to be honest, I never knew that it was based on historical facts. Interesting post!