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Wed, 11.09.1892

Victor Green, Travel Guide Publisher born

Victor Green

*Victor Green was born on this date in 1892.  He was a Black postal employee and publisher.  

Born in Manhattan, New York City, Victor Hugo Green was named for the noted French author.  He was the eldest of three children of Alice A. and William H. Green. His family moved, and he grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey.  

In 1913, Green began working as a postal carrier for the US Postal Service in Bergen County, New Jersey.  In 1918 Green married Alma Duke (1889-1978) of Richmond, Virginia.  She came north as part of the Great Migration from the South to northern cities. After their marriage, the couple moved to Harlem, New York as it developed as a center of Black arts and culture in the Harlem Renaissance. They lived in an apartment at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue.  

In the 1930s, Green began his work by compiling data on stores and motels and gas stations in New York City area that welcomed black travelers and published his first guide in 1936. His first edition had data for facilities only in the New York metropolitan area. In his introduction, Green wrote:  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 rights and privileges in the United States.  Green created a publishing office in Harlem to support his guide.

In 1947 he established a Vacation Reservation Service, a travel agency to book reservations at Black-owned establishments. By 1949 the guide included international destinations in Bermuda and Mexico; it listed places for food, lodging, and gas stations. In 1952 Green changed the name to The Negro Travelers' Green Book. His travel agency office was located at 200 W. 135th Street in Harlem, New York.  Green printed 15,000 copies each year of The Green Book, marketing them to white as well as Black-owned businesses to demonstrate "the growing affluence of African Americans." At the time, Esso franchised gas stations to Blacks, when some other companies did not. The Esso stations became popular sales outlets for the book. Similar guides had been published for Jewish travelers in some areas.  

Green's guide was so popular that he immediately began to expand its coverage the next year to other US destinations, adding hotel and restaurants as well. After retiring from the Postal Service, Green continued to work on updating issues of The Green Book. In addition, he developed the related travel agency business he had established in 1947.  Victor Green died in 1960 in Manhattan, New York City.  After Green died the publication continued, with his widow Alma serving as editor, until 1966. Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and legal end to racial segregation in public facilities marked the beginning of the guide's obsolescence; the goal that Green had described in his introduction to the first edition of his work.   

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