“You Will Find It Handy”: Twentieth-Century African American Travel Guides

posted Mar 1, 2017, 9:38 AM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Mar 14, 2017, 12:22 PM ]
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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.

The New York Public Library has recently digitized its collection of The Green Books.   Check out their entire collection here!

A consortium of historians is preparing posters highlighting the surviving Green Book sites in each state and documenting their unique character. Architectural and landscape historian Jennifer Reut will present an overview of The Green Book history and the goals of the ongoing poster project. Poster preparers Susan Hellman, Catherine W. Zipf, and Anne E. Bruder will be on hand to discuss their work and findings. Additional information on the presenters is below.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

Speaker Biographies

Jennifer Reut is an architectural and landscape historian and an editor at Landscape Architecture Magazine. After receiving her masters and doctoral degrees in architectural history at the University of Virginia in 2012, she accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she began researching the project that would become Mapping the Green Book. After researching and developing the project for the last five years, she recently launched the next phase, "The Spaces in Between," a collaboration with the photographer Sahar Coston-Hardy. She is a board member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and a contributor to the SAH Archipedia 100 Landscapes initiative. In the magazine, she writes for a professional design audience on landscape history, design, cultural landscapes, industrial landscapes, environmental justice, and art, among other topics.

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.

Susan Hellman, Director of Carlyle House Historic Park, is an architectural historian with an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a graduate degree from the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Hellman has served as the Acting Director of Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey house, taught college-level courses in Architectural History and Art History, and worked as a Historian in both the Fairfax County (Virginia) Department of Planning and Zoning and the Virginia Room special collections library. She has written award-winning papers on local history and consulted on numerous research projects. She co-authored "Soil Tilled by Free Men: The Formation of a Free Black Community in Fairfax County, Virginia" accepted for publication in the March 2017 issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Hellman is the author of “Traveling Safely in the Old Dominion” as part of the poster series “You Will Find it Handy: African American Travel Guides.” She serves on the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Board of Governors of Visit Alexandria, the National Advisory Council of MADE: In America, and is an advisor to the Board of the Friends of Historic Huntley.

Anne E. Bruder is the Senior Architectural Historian for the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration where she has worked since 2001.She worked for the Maryland Historical Trust from 1997 to 2001. Ms. Bruder is currently conducting research on commemorative events in Maryland related to World War I. In 2005, she served as a session chair for the Latrobe Chapter’s “Washington at War” biennial conference. In 2008 and 2015, Ms. Bruder spoke before the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation about the work of Architect Charles Goodman for the National Homes Corporation and the 1963 Civil Rights protests at Belair in Bowie. She is the author of the Maryland Green Book poster and a contributor to the Green Book overview poster “You Will Find It Handy.” She received her A.B. from Smith College and her MaH from the University of Virginia.
Bill Marzella,
Mar 14, 2017, 12:28 PM