The growth of automobile usage during the twentieth century brought more and more American drivers out on the open road. But refusal of service and other threats made travel extremely difficult for African-Americans. One solution came from Victor H. Green, who between 1937 and 1963 published The Green Book, a guide for African-Americans traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, and Mexico. The Green Book was one of the most extensive and best known travel guides on the market. It listed the names and addresses of businesses, tourist homes, hotels, service stations, barber shops, beauty parlors, restaurants, bars, and taverns that would serve African-Americans during the pre-Civil Rights Act era.
On Thursday March 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm, the Newport Historical Society will host Catherine W. Zipf for “You Will Find It Handy”: Twentieth-Century African American Travel Guides to Newport, RI. This presentation will focus on Newport sites listed in The Green Book, where they were, their history, and their current condition. While only four sites survive, all tell a tale of resistance and survival in an age dominated by discrimination and segregation. The presentation will be accompanied by a viewing of posters documenting sites in other states. Together, the posters show what is unique—and not unique—about Rhode Island’s Green Book history.
Catherine W. Zipf, PhD, is an award winning architectural historian and author with expertise in historic preservation. She holds an AB from Harvard University and a MaH and PhD from the University of Virginia. Zipf writes frequently for a wide range of print and online publications, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Leadership Forum Blog and Architexx.org. She is currently writing her second book, Making a Home of Her Own: Newport’s Architectural Patronesses, 1850-1940, while serving as the interim Executive Director of the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society.
“You Will Find It Handy” takes place at the NHS Resource Center, 82 Touro Street, Newport, RI, and costs $5 per person, $1 for NHS members, active and retired military with ID. Please RSVP online at NewportHistory.org or call 401-841-8770.
Information from a Newport Historical Society press release was used in this story.