At the dawn of the 20th century, English-born entrepreneur Fred Harvey transformed tourism in the Southwest with a collection of stately hotels. The hotels’ eateries quickly earned a nationwide reputation for serving up fresh, hearty fare at a fair price but were perhaps best known for their waitresses — single, attractive and well-educated women. Famously known as Harvey Girls, they helped usher in a new era of decorum in the West and helped advance the stature of women in the workforce.
The young women were so admired that they inspired the 1946 MGM musical The Harvey Girls, which starred Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury. As one article from the time put it, Harvey “made the desert blossom with beefsteak and pretty girls.”
Twin sisters Beverly Ireland and Bernette Jarvis became Harvey Girls in 1950, working the breakfast and lunch shifts at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this video, the twins recount their experience at La Fonda.
Video courtesy La Fonda on the Plaza