What Was the Green Book?

Quck answer

The Green Book was a travel guidebook for African Americans during the Jim Crow era in the United States. It was published from 1936 to 1966 by Victor H. Green and provided information about safe places, such as hotels, restaurants, and gas stations, where black travelers could stay or visit without facing discrimination or danger. The book was essential for African Americans who faced segregation and racial violence while traveling. It played a significant role in promoting black-owned businesses and supporting the civil rights movement. The Green Book is a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of African Americans during a challenging time in American history.

The automobile revolutionized the world, providing people with newfound freedom to travel wherever and whenever they desired. However, this freedom was not equal for all Americans, particularly those of color.

During the early 20th Century, as more people began purchasing cars, road trips became increasingly popular. However, racial segregation laws, known as Jim Crow laws, made travel inconvenient and dangerous for people of color.

Segregation was not limited to the South; it was prevalent throughout the United States. Black Americans faced discrimination and were denied access to hotels, restaurants, and other public places. Additionally, the rise of sundown towns posed a serious threat to their safety, as they were warned to leave before dark or face violence.

To address these challenges, Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker from Harlem, New York City, created The Negro Traveler’s Green Book in 1936. This travel guide listed businesses that welcomed Black Americans, helping them find safe accommodations and establishments along their route.

Green initially focused on New York City, drawing from his own experiences and the input of fellow Black postal workers. The Green Book quickly gained popularity, expanding to cover the entire United States, as well as Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada, by 1949.

In addition to the Green Book, Green established the Vacation Reservation Service, a travel agency that scheduled activities at Black-owned businesses. This not only assisted travelers of color but also promoted Black entrepreneurs and their establishments.

Although the Green Book was successful, Victor Green hoped for a day when it would no longer be necessary. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1960, but his wife, Alma, continued its publication. Eventually, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation across the United States, marking a significant step toward racial equality. Consequently, the last edition of the Green Book was printed in 1966.

Although segregation is now illegal, efforts are still being made to combat racism in all areas. How can you contribute? One way is to ensure that all individuals feel welcome in public spaces. If you witness unfair treatment, report it to a trusted adult. It is crucial for everyone to play a role in creating a more equal world!

Give It a Try

Find an adult who can assist you in trying one or more of the activities listed below:

  • Learn more about the Jim Crow era. What knowledge did you gain? How did Jim Crow laws impact people’s daily lives? Summarize your findings for a friend or family member.
  • Curious about the locations featured in the Green Book? Explore this map displaying the businesses listed in the 1947 and 1956 editions of the Green Book. Can you plan a road trip from your location to a distant city? Where would you make stops? Seek help from a friend or family member to plan this adventure!
  • If someone were visiting your area, what places would you recommend they visit? Create a travel guide for your region. Simply fold a few sheets of paper to form a book. Which restaurants would you suggest? Where would be the ideal place to stay overnight? What parks, museums, or other attractions should they explore? Make sure to include brief descriptions of each recommended place!

Sources of Interest

  • https://www.harlemworldmagazine.com/harlems-victor-hugo-greens-the-green-book/ (accessed 08 April 2020)
  • https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/negro-motorist-green-book-1936-1964/ (accessed 08 April 2020)
  • https://nmaahc.si.edu/object/nmaahc_2015.97.42 (accessed 15 April 2020)
  • https://time.com/5457827/green-book-history/ (accessed 08 April 2020)
  • https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/history-green-book-african-american-travelers-180958506/ (accessed 08 April 2020)


1. What was the Green Book?

The Green Book was a travel guide that was published from 1936 to 1966 for African-American travelers in the United States. It was created by Victor Hugo Green, a postal worker from Harlem, New York. The book provided information on safe places to eat, sleep, and buy gasoline, as well as tips to navigate through areas with racial segregation.

2. How did the Green Book help African-American travelers?

The Green Book was essential for African-American travelers during a time of widespread racial discrimination and segregation. It provided them with a list of establishments that were safe and welcoming, reducing the risk of encountering racial violence or being denied service. The book also helped them plan their trips and navigate through areas where they might face discrimination.

3. Why was the Green Book necessary?

The Green Book was necessary because African-Americans faced widespread discrimination and segregation during the mid-20th century. They often encountered difficulties finding accommodations, restaurants, and gas stations that would serve them. The Green Book provided a resource for African-American travelers to find establishments that were safe and welcoming, allowing them to travel with more ease and confidence.

4. When did the Green Book stop being published?

The Green Book was published from 1936 to 1966. It ceased publication shortly after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed racial segregation and discrimination. With the new legislation, the need for a separate travel guide for African-Americans diminished, as they were legally granted equal rights and access to public accommodations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *