The Green Books that Preceded the Movie

Green Book 1940The New York Public Library has blogged about the Green Books that were the genesis for this year’s Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.

From 1936 to 1966, Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker who worked in New Jersey and lived in Harlem, published the directories known today as the Green Book. The actual titles included The Negro Motorist Green Book, The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, and The Travelers’ Green Book. The books listed hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, bars, and gas stations where Black travelers would be welcome. In an age of sundown towns, segregation, and lynching, the Green Book became an indispensable tool for safe navigation.

The blog post includes a research guide to the Green Books, digitized copies of the Green Books, and an interactive map to map a trip using the Green Books or view a Green Books map.

10 thoughts on “The Green Books that Preceded the Movie”

    1. I had not until the movie. I had heard that such books existed, but never what they were called. I remember a history teacher in college telling us that in the 1950s he and his wife drove across country from VA to San Diego where her parents lived. They had their small baby with them. They needed to stop for milk for the baby and gas somewhere in small-town Texas in the middle of the night. The town had a sign that said it did not serve minorities. He mentioned that he wondered what Negroes traveling across country did under such circumstances. This was in the early 1970s.

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      1. I didn’t know what they were called either, but I remember being told about Green Books too. They were apparently indispensible for minorities travelling during that troubling period.
        My only mental connection to a “green book” comes from a very different three-volume treatise by Muammar Al Qathafi — aptly entitled “The Green Book”, in imitation of Mao Tse Dong’s “Red Book”. A Libyan grad student gave it to me sometime in the early 1980s. The first volume is entitled “The Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the People” and it goes downhill from there. They are surprisingly rational, as I remember. Just wacky.

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