The Negro Motorist Green Book Compendium

Four different editions of the Green Book under a single cover!

During the dangerous days of Jim Crow segregation, it was difficult to be an African-American traveler, as hotels that would take you or restaurants that would serve you were few and far between. This was addressed by The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual listing of lodging, diners, gas stations, and other businesses that could handle the needs of the Black customer. Created in 1936 by Harlem-based postman Victor H. Green, the Green Book served the public until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s ended legal segregation.

Original copies of the Green Book are now museum pieces, but in this book you can see all the articles, all the ads, and all the listings from four editions of the Green Book, one for each decade in which the series was published. The Negro Motorist Green Book of 1938 is an early example, covering only the states east of the Mississippi River, but also presenting articles on “The Automobile and What It Has Done for the American Negro” as well as driving tips.

By 1947, the Negro Motorist Green Book had listings for 45 of the 48 states that then existed (there was nothing for Nevada, New Hampshire, or North Dakota), and that also included directories of the Negro colleges and newspapers of the day, as well as a look at the current models from Ford and GM, and some notes on automotive design of the future.

By 1954, the title had changed to The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, and the volume includes an article on the highlights of San Francisco (which was “fast becoming the focal point of the Negroes’ future”) and tourist guides to New York City and Bermuda. Finally, the Travelers’ Green Book for 1963 through 1964 leads off with a state-by-state listings of rights against “jimcro” (Jim Crow segregation), plus it has “Guide Posts for a Pleasant Trip,” a couple of cartoon-illustrated sidebars on Black history-makers, a listing of major league ballparks, and other useful items for the traveler. And all of it reproduced at about 50% larger than the original size, for easier reading.

Reprints of the Green Book published by About Comics have gotten coverage by Newsweek, the Guardian, and BBC News, and more. They are carried by major museums, and have been used by TV and film. Now you can get four editions in one convenient volume, and see why the New York Times called the Green Book a “beacon for Black travelers.”

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949996069
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949996067
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 9.6 inches

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book: 1959 facsimile edition

This is the Green Book movie fans want – to African-American motorists the Negro Motorist Green Book (which had by 1959 switched titles to the Negro Travelers’ Green Book) was essential to safe driving in the legally-segregated nation under the Jim Crow laws. The annual publication listed hotels, restaurants, service stations, and other businesses willing to take Black customers, and in doing so let drivers navigate the US. Started by mailman Victor Hugo Green in 1936, by 1959 the acclaimed series was edited and published by Victor’s wife Alma D. Green (Victor would die the following year.)

/The book provides a state-by-state and city-by-city listing of businesses, including advertisements from proprietors reaching out to Black customers. Some of these were long-running, storied establishments, like the Booker T. Washington Hotel in San Francisco, where in its lounge you might run into W.E.B. Du Bois, Nat King Cole, or the Harlem Globetrotters; others were nothing more than a spare room in private home, the AirBNB of its day. All of them made life under the harshness of Jim Crow a little more livable. The 1959 edition, with the gentle warning “Carry your Green Book with you… you may need it” on the cover and promising “Assured Protection for the Negro Traveler” inside, comes from a period when the guide wasn’t running the travelogues and articles that augmented other years, and is basically wall-to-wall listings and ads, but for a one-page guide on “How to Guard Your Home During the Vacation Season.”

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1949996034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949996036
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 6.8 inches

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The Negro Motorist Green Book: 1949 facsimile edition

In the 1940s, Americans open roads were a magical and inviting opportunity… for white people. People of color, however, were barred from many of the hotels, restaurants, and even gas stations that made travel possible and convenient. In the face of this, mailman Victor H. Green started publishing The Negro Motorist Green Book, a listing of establishments willing to serve African-American customers. It not only made the Jim Crow-era roads navigable for the Black traveler, it created business opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, as they knew that if they created hotels for Black customers, they had a route to let potential customers know.

In addition to the travel listings and ads that Black travelers relied on, the 1949 edition includes an introduction by Victor H. Green, an article by the Esso service stations’ special representative to the Black community on how the Green Book helps solves travel problems, a brief look at the 1949 Fords, a guide to what to see in Chicago, an article on the Black-owned and -operated town of Robbins, Illinois, and a travel guide to Bermuda.

The New York Times called the Green Book a “beacon for Black travelers.” The Washington Post said it was “a game changer.” Newsweek referred to it as “practical scripture” that “saved Black lives on the road.

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • ISBN-10: 1949996026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949996029
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 6.8 inches

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The Negro Travelers’ Green Book 1957: facsimile edition

This is a full reproduction of the 1957 edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the classic travel guide for African Americans during the Jim Crow era. 
List Price: $8.99
5″ x 6.75″
Black & White on Cream paper
88 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404872
ISBN-10: 1936404877
BISAC: History / United States / 20th Century

California Negro Directory 1942-43

Where the Green Book was meant for the traveler, the World War II-era California Negro Directory was meant for the local community, full of business listings and fascinating ads for Black-owned and Black-friendly businesses, not just for various cities California, but for the states of Washington and Oregon as well. (The guide, which was apparently a just-Los Angeles product in previous editions, is still LA-centric, with Los Angeles listings taking up about half the book.) It also has White Page-style listings of the local inhabitants (such as the page 173 listing for “Robinson, Jack” – i.e., baseball superstar Jackie Robinson and his Pasadena home), and a Who’s Who guide of notables in the back (which, like many such guides, seems to have been influenced by who was paying for inclusion), and introductory notes by the Governor of California (“We have no poll tax in California,” he says, pushing how open the state is to Black citizens), the Mayor of Los Angeles, and the compilers of the book (Warren C. Vinston and Anita Grant, who note that the book “is not an achievement of the compilers but of the Race” and suggest that “Next to your Bible use it most.”)

Compiled by Warren C. Vinston and Anita Grant

List Price: $20.00
8.5″ x 11″ 
Black & White on Cream paper
246 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404834

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The Green Book: 1962 Facsimile Edition

This entry in the About Comics reprints of the Negro Motorist/Travelers’ Green Book series is a thick one, 128 pages filled with listings of hotels that African-American travelers could stay in, restaurants they could eat in, and shops that would serve them in 1962, when segregation legal and otherwise was still very much in place. This volume also includes articles on the fun of international travel and on New York City.

List Price: $8.99
5″ x 6.75″ (12.7 x 17.145 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
132 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404759
ISBN-10: 1936404753
BISAC: History / African American

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Negro Motorist Green Book, 1947 Facsimile Edition

In the segregated US of the mid-twentieth century, African-American travelers could have a hard time finding towns where they were legally allowed to stay at night and hotels, restaurants, and service stations willing to serve them. In 1936, Victor Hugo Green published the first annual volume of The Negro Motorist Green Book. This facsimile of the 1947 edition brings you the listings and advertisements aimed at the Black travelers trying to find their way across a country where they were so rarely welcome – plus sections on “Negro Schools & Colleges” and “Negro Newspapers”, some notes on “Green Book traveling”, and a guide to GM and Ford cars of the day (with photos!)

List Price: $8.99
5″ x 6.75″
Black & White on Cream paper
84 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404742
ISBN-10: 1936404745
BISAC: History / United States / 20th Century

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Travelers’ Green Book: 1963-1964 International Edition (facsimile)

In the segregated US of the mid-twentieth century, African-American travelers could have a hard time finding towns where they were legally allowed to stay at night and hotels, restaurants, and service stations willing to serve them. In 1936, Victor Hugo Green published the first annual volume of The Negro Motorist Green Book, later renamed The Negro Travelers’ Green Book and the just the Travelers’ Green Book. This facsimile of the 1963-1964 edition brings you all the listings, travelogues, and advertisements aimed at the Black travelers trying to find their way across a country where they were so rarely welcome.

List Price: $8.99
5″ x 6.75″ (12.7 x 17.145 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
108 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404704
ISBN-10: 1936404702
BISAC: History / United States / 20th Century

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book: 1954 Facsimile Edition

In the segregated US of the mid-twentieth century, African-American travelers could have a hard time finding towns where they were legally allowed to stay at night and hotels, restaurants, and service stations willing to serve them. In 1936, Victor Hugo Green published the first annual volume of The Negro Motorist Green Book, later renamed The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. This facsimile of the 1954 edition brings you all the listings, travelogues, and advertisements aimed at the Black travelers trying to find their way across a country where they were so rarely welcome.
List Price: $8.99
5″ x 6.5″ (12.7 x 16.51 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
88 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404667
ISBN-10: 1936404664
BISAC: History / United States / 20th Century

The Negro Motorist Green-Book: 1940 Facsimile Edition

In the segregated US of the mid-twentieth century, African-American travelers could have a hard time finding towns where they were legally allowed to stay at night and hotels, restaurants, and service stations willing to serve them. In 1936, Victor Hugo Green published the first annual volume of The Negro Motorist Green-Book, later renamed The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. This facsimile of the 1940 edition brings you all the listings, articles, and advertisements aimed at the Black travelers trying to find their way across a country where they were so rarely welcome.

 

List Price: $8.99

5″ x 6.75″ (12.7 x 17.145 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
52 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1936404674
ISBN-10: 1936404672
BISAC: History / United States / 20th Century
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