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The Fred Harvey Hotels Collection, Special Collections

Collection Profile

How Fred Harvey became synonymous with the development of the American West is documented in a collection of photographs, ledger books, and other ephemera that Fred Harvey Inc. donated to the University of Arizona Libraries Special Collections in 1971. The Fred Harvey hotel and restaurant chain along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway lines represents one of the most successful American business partnerships of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1945, the Fred Harvey establishments extended from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

Included in the collection are approximately 2,000 black-and-white photographs showing exterior and interior views of the Harvey establishments in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. It also includes correspondence sent to the Harvey Company dating from 1896 to 1944, a few scrapbooks, and other supplemental materials.

Many of the photographs appeared in early publications and promotions by Fred Harvey and his company. Being products of various photographers (for example, some bear the stamp of the Detroit Photographic Company), these photos illustrate American history in an era when rail travel thrived. They also confirm the contributions made by many single, well-mannered, and educated ladies who were waitresses in Harvey establishments. These young women, given one-year contracts as "Harvey Girls," came west to work and forged a new social history in the process.

The Fred Harvey Collection also includes examples of promotional materials about the Grand Canyon: travel brochures, publications, advertisements, and newspaper stories that influenced the growth of tourism in western states. Traffic to the Grand Canyon either by train or car grew from 44,000 in 1919 to over 300,000 in the mid-1930s. Fred Harvey hotels, newsstands, restaurants, and dining cars supported and also benefited from tourism and boosted the popularity of train travel.

Harvey's employment of architect Mary Colter in the early decades of the 20th century resulted in some of the Southwest's most famous landmark hotels. Colter completed 21 projects for Fred Harvey. Of her buildings still standing, certainly the best known are her Harvey-sponsored endeavors at the Grand Canyon: Hopi House, Hermit's Rest, the Lookout Lounge, the Watchtower, Bright Angel Lodge, and Phantom Ranch.

The photographs in the collection have also appeared in a variety of more recent publications. For instance, 30 photos were used in Virginia L. Grattan's Mary Colter: Builder upon the Red Earth (1992).

Collection Profile: Bonnie Travers
Overview: Patricia Promís
Illustrations: Bonnie Travers

More About This Collection

Demand for images from the collection resulted in the creation of an online Web exhibit: http://harvey.library.arizona.edu/

Finding aid: http://harvey.library.arizona.edu/finding_aid/welcome.html

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