Monday, April 25, 2011

African American Research - Pre and Post WWII

The Green Book Travel Guide
Did you know about the Green Book that guided African Americans safely across America? Every African American has a story about the hardships segregation put on travelers, but few know of this travelers aid.  Victor H. Green, supposedly a postal worker, collected names of African American friendly establishments using fellow postal workers information and published it in a travel guide.  This traveler's guide, which began in New York,  provided hotels and other establishments essential for safe travels and to secure temporary housing around the nation since most hotels did not allow Negro patrons.

The Green Book and Research
From a genealogist point of view, the Green Book may help trace movements of your family between 1936 to as late as the 1960's.  Although once popular, The Green Book, eventually covered all the states. It is a forgotten source for family historians to scour for businesses, locations, and records.  By the late 1940's the Green book covered establishments in Alaska, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.  At that time the Negro Motorist Green Book was .75¢. and carried contradictory marketing 1) "Travel is fatal to prejudice" - Mark Twain 2) "Travel Strengthens America."
But this guide is a great tool for family research. Paired with historical maps, land plats, and legal documents, and African American newspapers, the researcher may find that the Green Book tells just a bit more about their family and movements.   

How We Use It
At a3Genealogy, we find this resource especially helpful when researching  WWII era subjects. This guide may help you follow a path from where your soldier was discharged to their hometown. Boarding home records may have been salvaged in the form of diaries or taxes or account books.  This too can be helpful when tracing that allusive traveling ancestor.

As genealogists, we must walk in our family's footsteps and for African American descendants The Green Book illuminates many of our ancestor's paths. 

Kathleen Brandt


  1. Thank you for sharing. This resource will be very helpful in researching my family's journey North.

  2. Readers,
    Let me know if you wish to have a copy of this book.