While The Green Book has been very much in the news this year, with The Museum of Arts & Design’s exhibition by artist Derrick Adams entitled Sanctuary and Unpacking the Green Book: Travel and Segregation in Jim Crow America, along with the about-to-be released movie, Green Book, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture houses the full digital collection of Green Books and other similar guides. This week Maira Lirano, the Schomburg Center’s Associate Chief Librarian, gave a brief history of Victor Hugo Green and The Green Book in a Q&A Press Call.
Let’s take a ride…..
The Green Book, a guidebook for black Americans, was published by New York postal worker Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966, during the Jim Crow era in America as a way for working-class African-Americans to pursue the American Dream of travel before and during the Civil Rights Movement.
Best said by the Editor, “Hence we have filled one of our life’s ambitions, to give the Negro a travel guide that will be of service to him, by this method we have established ourselves in the minds of the traveling public. The GREEN BOOK is known from coast to coast as the source of information for travel and vacation” (Victor H. Green, Editor & Publisher ~ The Negro Travelers’ Green Book: 1955 International Edition).
We cannot close this post without recording this thoughtful and hopeful quote by Victor Green, read to us by Ms Lirano, “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.” (Green Book, 1948. p. 1)”
This timely short lecture and Q&A was initiated by the Schomburg – holder of the largest collection of Green Books – to bring to the public hands-on access to the contents of these historic books.
The Schomburg’s full digital collection of Green Books can be found here. They are in the public domain and can be freely downloaded to be used in stories with the proper credit.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library, is a free public resource with over 11 million items related to the experiences of people of African-American descent around the World. It is located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th Street in Harlem.
While you’re there, check out CRUSADE: Martin Luther King Jr., a thoughtful and thorough exhibition celebrating key events in Dr. King’s life. On view through April 6, 2019.