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The Travelers’ Green Book: “Assured Protection for the Negro Traveler“


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hclib:

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The
was an invaluable travel guide for African-Americans traveling in the era before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights act. Published from 1936 to 1966, it provided listings of hotels and restaurants that could be relied on to provide food and lodgings without discrimination. It was written and published by Victor H. Green, a postal worker who loved to travel and saw a need for a guide for African-Americans. He used information provided by his friends, contacts in the post office, and from other black travelers to compile his lists of friendly businesses. Green retired from the postal service and ended up becoming a travel agent and writer, continuing to work on the guide until his death in 1960.

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The
also provided listings of gas stations, beauty salons and other amenities. Many of the business were owned and managed by African-Americans, and the ones that were not had been patronized and vouched for by black travelers.

It is quite a slim volume in comparison to the
for a comparable year, even more so considering that the Green Book listed restaurants in addition to hotels. 

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The Green book listings for Minnesota fill just over a page. The list includes all of the hotels and restaurants which had been vetted and guaranteed to not refuse service to African-Americans, who had to plan their trips quite carefully to avoid being stuck sleeping in their car or going hungry because no restaurant would serve them. The Hotel Red Book, by comparison, contains twenty pages of Minnesota hotels.

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Thankfully, the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964 made the Green Book effectively obsolete and it ceased publication in 1966 after 30 years of helping African-Americans to enjoy (relatively) safe travel. These days the various editions of the book provide valuable historical information about the experience of African-Americans vacationing during the 40s 50s and 60s. The New York Public Library has
of the guide and made them available on their website. And the University of South Carolina has created an
using information from the 1956 edition.

Further reading on the discrimination faced by African-Americans traveling in the pre-civil rights era can be found in books such as
.
For children, check out
,
a picture book which tells the story of a child traveling with her parents. Find more
at the Hennepin County Library.

______________________

This post was researched and written by Josh, a staff member in Minneapolis Central Library Support Services. Josh discovered the Travelers’ Green Book in the Dewey Stacks at the Central Library.



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