Read the Original Green Books Online

If you’d like to experience The Negro Motorist Green Book first hand, there’s good news. The New York Public Library recently digitized and posted over 20 copies of The Green Book on their website. This effort is thanks to the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, which worked to digitize the library’s entire collection of Green Books so they would be accessible to the public. As of now, visitors to the website can read issues from 1937 to 1963.

The books include advertisements and recommendations for hotels, service centers, restaurants, and other attractions that were welcoming and safe for African American travelers. Safe spots were listed by state and city, so motorists could plan trips to a variety of locations around the country. The guides also provided advice and information on models of automobiles and tips for maintenance and preparedness for car troubles on the road.

Throughout the books, letters and anecdotes show how important and valuable The Green Book was to African American travelers. In the 1940 issue, a letter to the editor, Victor Green, reads:

“It is a great pleasure for me to give credit where credit is due. Many of my friends have joined me in admitting that ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ is a credit to the Negro Race. It is a book badly needed among our Race since the advance of the motor age. Realizing the only way we knew where and how to reach our pleasure resorts was in a way of speaking, by word of mouth, until the publication of ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book.’ With our wishes of your success, and your earnest efforts. We earnestly believe ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ will mean as much if not more to us as the A.A.A means to the white race.”

In the 1947 issue, James A. Jackson, a representative of Esso Marketers says:

“’If there had been any such publication as this when I started travelling ‘way back in the Nineties, I would have missed a lot of anxieties, worries, and saved a lot of mental energy which, had it been conserved and used solely to the advancement of the business interests for which I traveled, my years ‘on the road’ might have been concluded long ago, with enough savings to permit my living a life of peace and quiet, now that I am becoming an old codger.’”

Read more letters and stories like these, and check out which businesses The Green Book recommended in your area by visiting The Green Book Collection on the New York Public Library Website.