Skip to main content

Collection Occupational Folklife Project

The Green Book: Documenting African American Entrepreneurs

In 2018, independent scholar and documentarian Candacy Taylor received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document contemporary business owners and employees who work for more than a dozen still-active businesses that were listed in The Green Book, a historically significant travel guide published between 1937 and 1967. The Green Book listed businesses—e.g., restaurants, hotels, barbershops, taverns, drug stores, and garages—that welcomed African American customers. Only 3% of the 9,500 businesses listed in The Green Book are still in operation and Taylor traveled across the United States to interview their current owners and employees. The interviews explore the histories of these ongoing establishments, their strategies for staying in business, and the business’s current relationships with their changing communities. This oral history project is part of the researcher's larger project on The Green Book, which also resulted in the publication of Taylor’s critically acclaimed book The Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America (2020) as well as a major Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) exhibit on the same topic.

Go to The Green Book: Documenting African American Entrepreneurs collection items

 Back to top