The Green Book
The Green Book was a travel guide published between 1936 and 1966 that listed hotels, restaurants, bars, gas stations, etc. where black travelers would be welcome. NYPL Labs is in the process of extracting the data from the Green Books themselves and welcomes you to explore its contents in new ways.
Visualize a trip using the Green Books
View a map of the data extracted from the Green Books
From 1936 to 1966, Victor Green, a postal worker who worked in New Jersey but lived in Harlem, 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 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.
We encourage you to explore 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.
From the Introduction to the 1949 edition:
With the introduction of this travel guide in 1936, it has been our idea to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable.
If this guide has proved useful to you on your trips, let us know. If not, tell us also as we appreciate your criticisms and ideas in the improvement of this guide from which you benefit.
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.
According to legal research done by NYPL staff, those 21 volumes have no known US copyright restrictions, and can be used and reused freely.
The NYPL Labs has extracted the text and coordinate data (via OCR) from the high-resolution images of The Negro Motorist Green Book: 1947. The Scribe framework was then used to correct and normalize the data generated from the OCR processing.
The data from The Negro Travelers' Green Book: Spring 1956 was provided by the Green Book map created by the SC Digital Academy and the Digital Collections and African American Studies departments of the University of South Carolina.
- Paul Beaudoin - Data wrangling, geocoding, human API
- Brian Foo - Interface design and development
- Josh Hadro - OCR processing
- Matt Miller - OCR processing, data wrangling
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - Collection curation, advising
- SC Digital Academy and the Digital Collections and African American Studies departments of the University of South Carolina - Data provider