Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Africa and the African Diaspora

Schomburg Treasures: The Green Book


Preview this post in our new blog design
Green Book 1947
The Negro Motorist Green Book, 1947

"Carry your Green Book with you—you may need it."

The mid-20th Century: a time of freedom and grand opportunities. Ever bigger and faster and cheaper cars allowed an exciting ease of movement across America's new parkways, numbered highways, and interstates. The automobile changed the world, and suddenly the horizon seemed to go on forever. But some other essential changes were a long time coming, and for one segment of the population that horizon was filled with landmines.

Enter Victor Green. From 1936 to 1966 (with only a pause for WWII), this postal worker from New Jersey published the directories known today as the Green Book. (The actual titles were variously: The Negro Motorist Green Book; The Negro Travelers' Green Book; The Travelers' Green Book.) These listed—first in NYC only, later throughout much of the world—hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, nightclubs, bars, gas stations, etc. 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.

Victor's introductions always concluded:

There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.

He continued publication until just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But the story doesn't end there. To flip through a Green Book is to open a window into history and perhaps to see, the tiniest amount, through the eyes of someone who lived it. Read these books; map them in your mind. Think about the trips you could take, can take, will take. See how the size of the world can change depending on the color of your skin.

The Schomburg's full collection is available here.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Love the introductory note Mr

Love the introductory note Mr. Green included.

Shame, shame, shame.

Shame, shame, shame.

Green Book needed today

That was a mark of true resilience and creative living. Today we cold use another kind of Green Book. Where you can buy a home without being steered away from the area, due to being unwanted by skin color; where you can get a business loan, where you can get promoted without without finding a glass ceiling,where an actor of color can get a leading role or portray a hero; where you can find true American History that includes truth about the founding of the country, the truth about slavery, the subtle racism that still exists today.and more.Yes there is the need for a different type of Green Book. Online version too.

The Green Book

Are there any ebook copies of The Green Book? I need to read this and keep it in my library. I am a white woman. I need to learn more about the bulls**t my fellow citizens had to deal with on a daily basis so I can be a better neighbor to my neighbors.

The Green Book

Mr Green is the Hero we never knew of. The saddest part of this was him speaking of the embarrassment for the color of skin. Hold your head up sir. Hold it high!

Green Book

I learned about the Green Book at the National Museum of African American History. They have a simulation of people using the book and the importance of the book for traveling African Americans and businesses I look forward to visiting the Schomburg's full collection.

Post new comment