National Archives at Kansas City

Press Release: April 29, 2013

National Archives at Kansas City

Dee Harris to Present Meals by Fred Harvey at the National Archives at Kansas City

For More Information Contact:
Dee Harris, 816-268-8086

Kansas City, (MO)…On Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives at Kansas City will present Meals by Fred Harvey, a talk and tour by Dee Harris, curator of the exhibit Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West. Harris will discuss how local entrepreneur and restaurateur Fred Harvey made a lasting impact on the American hospitality industry. To make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email email

Fred Harvey was a visionary businessman who changed the nature of railroad meal stops in the 1870s. His string of eating establishments, called Harvey Houses, followed the route of the Santa Fe Railroad. Prior to Fred Harvey, there were no fast-food restaurants or chain hotels guaranteeing a quality travel experience in the American West. He espoused the principles of excellent food, impeccable service, reasonable prices, and standardized service in all his restaurants.

Fred Harvey’s hospitality empire eventually spanned from Ohio to California. Dotted with everything from eating houses and grand resort hotels to curio shops and specialty tourist activities, Fred Harvey created a standard of excellence in hospitality that the traveling public grew to appreciate and expect. So much that Fred Harvey inspired poems and books about his famous hospitality, and even a Hollywood movie featuring the Harvey Girls.

Harris’ talk will illustrate how Fred Harvey built the first chain of restaurants and hotels over a wide territory, and grew a multimillion dollar hospitality-based company that cemented his place in history as the father of the American service industry. As a part of the lecture, Harris will provide a curator’s tour of the exhibit Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West, which traces the development of Fred Harvey’s food service partnership with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad. The exhibit is presented in six major themes: Fred Harvey Changed the Way Americans Eat; How Fred Fed America; Meals by Fred Harvey; Branding Fred Harvey; Selling the Southwest; and Father of the American Service Industry.

Visitors will see a variety of artifacts and documents that tell the Fred Harvey story, including a desk from Fred Harvey’s home, a dining room table and chairs from the Harvey House in Newton, Kansas, and lunch counter stools from the Harvey House in Clovis, New Mexico. Other artifacts and documents on display include materials from the Harvey Girls movie and documents, furniture, menus, silver service, dishware, retail items, photographs, and postcards that illustrate the history of the Fred Harvey company.

Additional Information:

Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West will be available for viewing, Tuesday-Saturday, 8:00am-4:00pm from May 7, 2013 to January 4, 2014. To schedule a group tour call 816-268-8013 or email

About the Speaker:

Dee Harris is the exhibits specialist for the National Archives at Kansas City, where she manages exhibition development. She previously served as the Director of Visual Arts and Humanities for the Mid-America Arts Alliance in Kansas City where she oversaw two national traveling exhibition programs. Harris received both her master’s degree in public history and bachelor’s degree in history from Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108. It is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit us online.

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