African-American Travel Guide Survey Project

El Dorado, 2310 Elgin, Houston
El Dorado, 2310 Elgin, Houston

A Brief History

Back during the modern Jim Crow era, African Americans endured discriminatory hazards while traveling around the country. To circumnavigate these unwelcome situations, they used various travel guides to locate where they could purchase gas, get their hair cut, buy a meal, sleep for the night, or enjoy some entertainment. These travel guides were published from the early 1930s up to the late 1960s and provided information that would keep the African-American traveler "from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trips more enjoyable." Probably the most well-known one is The Negro Motorist Green Book, or more commonly known as the Green Book.

African-American Travel Guide Sites

The African-American Travel Guide Sites map is preliminary. A red pin indicates that the site is still extant; a blue pin shows that it has been demolished. Each pop-up window will show business name, description type, geographic coordinates, state of existence, and address. More information about the businesses will be added as research uncovers the information, so that each site's story can be told. Some sites were not added to the map as their precise locations are currently unknown.

If you have information about a site and would like to share with the Texas Historical Commission, please contact Leslie Wolfenden at leslie.wolfenden@thc.texas.gov.

Highlights of African-American Travel Guide Survey Project

Survey Project Information

Based on 34 African-American travel guides in the THC's files, over 780 individual travel guide sites were listed in 43 communities across the state. The types of resources run the gamut including restaurants and barbecue stands, barber shops and beauty salons, YMCAs and YWCAs, service stations and garages, hotels and boarding rooms, doctors and dentists, lawyers and NAACP representatives, taverns and liquor stores, theaters and night clubs, and colleges.

This travel guide topic surfaced during the Bankhead Highway Survey and Statewide Highway Historic Context Project, and the resulting excerpt was added to the survey report: "The Negro Motorists Green Book and Race-specific Travel Guides" (right). 

The topical information was added onto during the Meridian Highway survey project with a closer look at Gus Allen (left), who was an African-American entrepreneur in Galveston who owned a cafe, hotel, barber shop, restaurant, and night club. He was also a prominent citizen, serving on civic, social, and charitable organizations. Gus Allen, Galveston Entrepreneur

African-American Travel Guides used in project:

  • Chauffeur's Travelers Bureau Inc. (no date, c. early 1930s)
  • Hackley & Harrison's Hotel and Apartment Guide for Colored Travelers (1930)
  • Division of Negro Affairs: Tentative List of Hotels Operated by Negroes (1937)
  • The Negro Motorist Green Book (1939, 1940, 1941, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963-64, 1966-67)
  • The Negro Handbook (1942)
  • Grayson's Travel and Business Guide (1949)
  • Travelguide (1949, 1952)
  • GO Guide to Pleasant Motoring (1955, 1957-58)
  • Nationwide Hotel Association Directory and Guide to Travel (1958)
  • The Bronze American (1961-62)

Locations across Texas (county, town, number of sites):

  • Bell County: Temple (1)
  • Bexar County: San Antonio (79)
  • Bowie County: Texarkana (28)
  • Brewster County: Big Bend (1)
  • Brown County: Brownwood (8)
  • Camp County: Pittsburg (2)
  • Cass County: Atlanta (1)
  • Cherokee County: Jacksonville (1)
  • Culberson County: Van Horn (1)
  • Dallas County: Dallas (83)
  • El Paso County: El Paso (30)
  • Ellis County: Waxahachie (3)
  • Falls County: Marlin (1)
  • Galveston County: Galveston (42), Hitchcock (5)
  • Gregg County: Longview (5)
  • Harris County: Houston (110)
  • Harrison County: Marshall (15)
  • Hopkins County: Sulphur Springs (5)
  • Jefferson County: Beaumont (49), Port Arthur (29)
  • Lamar County: Paris (7)
  • Limestone County: Mexia (13)
  • Lubbock County: Lubbock (1)
  • McLennan County: Waco (36)
  • Midland County: Midland (9)
  • Montgomery County: Conroe (2)
  • Navarro County: Corsicana (10)
  • Nueces County: Corpus Christi (37)
  • Orange County: Orange (10)
  • Potter County: Amarillo (30)
  • Rusk County: Henderson (11)
  • Smith County: Tyler (19)
  • Tarrant County: Fort Worth (41)
  • Taylor County: Abilene (5)
  • Tom Green County: San Angelo (7)
  • Travis County: Austin (45), Del Valle (1)
  • Victoria County: Victoria (2)
  • Waller County: Prairie View (1)
  • Wichita County: Wichita Falls (13)
  • Wilbarger County: Vernon (1)
  • Wood County: Hawkins (1)

Volunteers Needed

The Texas Historical Commission's Survey Program is currently researching and documenting these resources across the state. This project is in need of interns and volunteers as this is a multiple-year project with limited staff available. Tasks include photography of existing sites (only about 25% remain) and research for all sites of city directories, newspapers, historical photographs, postcards, and other ephemera. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Leslie Wolfenden at leslie.wolfenden@thc.texas.gov. Their stories are waiting to be told.  

Past interns created posters that they can present at conferences, poster sessions, and other events – a great résumé and networking tool. The interns chose a community and then selected a handful of sites on which to conduct in-depth research. Their research got transformed into visually attractive posters. If you are interested in an internship, see the THC's Internship program; another internship opportunity is the highly competitive Friends of the Texas Historical Commission's Preservation Scholars Program.

Sydney Andrea Landers, Master's of Historic Preservation candidate at UT Austin (Summer 2019), selected Austin as her town. These are the sites that she researched for her poster:

  • Dr. Beadie Eugene Connor, 607 San Jacinto St (extant)
  • Deaf, Dumb and Blind Institute, Bull Creek Rd between 38th and 45th Sts (demolished)
  • Dentist Everett H. Givens, 419 1/2 E 6th St (extant)
  • Harlem Theatre, 1800 E 12th St (burned down)
  • King Funeral Home, 1107 E 6th St (extant)
  • Southern Dinette, 1010 E 11th St (extant)
  • Mrs. W. M. Tears Tourist Home, 1203 E 12th St (demolished)
  • Victory Grill, 1104 E 11th St (extant)

Yumeng 'Lulu' Liu, Master's of Historic Preservation candidate at the University of Oregon (Fall 2020), chose San Antonio as her community. These are the sites that she explored for her poster

  • Lawyer Harry Bellinger, 608 1/2 E Commerce St (demolished)
  • NAACP Harry V. Burns, 423 Belmont St (extant)
  • Carter Undertaking Company, 601 N Center St (extant)
  • Hicks Beauty Shop, 1515 E Houston St (demolished)
  • Keyhole, 1619 W Poplar St (extant)
  • Life Saver Grill, 824 E Commerce St (demolished)
  • Majestic Theatre, 230 College St/Houston St (extant)
  • Newspaper Register, 207 N Center St (demolished)
  • Dr. Charles Austin Whittier, 928 E Crockett St (extant)

Mónica Palacios, Master's of History candidate at the University of Texas at San Antonio (Summer 2021), picked San Antonio as her city. These are the eight resources that she investigated for her poster:

  • Avalon Grill, 509 1/2 E Commerce St (demolished)
  • Catholic Interracial Council, 1739 Clower St (extant)
  • DeLuxe Hotel, 628 E Commerce St (extant)
  • Dunbar Hotel, 401 N Center St (demolished)
  • Fred Brock American Legion Post No. 428, 2000 E Commerce St (extant)
  • Mamie's Restaurant, 1833 E Houston St (extant)
  • R&B Hotel/Ross Hotel, 126 N Mesquite St (demolished)
  • Woodlake Country Club, 3667 New Sulphur Springs Rd/Roland Rd (demolished)