The Green Books and the Geography of Segregation in Public Accommodations

Trevon D. Logan, The Ohio State University
Maggie Jones, University of Victoria
David Rose, Queen's University
Lisa Cook, Michigan State University

Jim Crow segregated African Americans and whites by law and practice. The causes and implications of the associated de jure and de facto residential segregation have received substantial attention from scholars, but there has been little empirical research on racial discrimination within public accommodations during this time period. We digitize an important historical tool created to assist African Americans in navigating both types of segregation: The Negro Motorist Green Books. We generate a novel dataset consisting of the geocoded location of over 4,000 unique businesses that served African American patrons between 1938-1964. Our preliminary analysis reveals several new facts about discrimination in public accommodations that contribute to the broader literature on racial segregation. First, the largest number of Green Book establishments were found in the North, while the South had the highest number of Green Book establishments per capita. The West had both the lowest number of establishments, as well as the lowest number per capita. Second, World War II was associated with large increases in the number of non-discriminatory public accommodations throughout the entire country, a result that is driven by counties with high WWII enlistment rates. Third, out of the Green Book establishments located in cities for which the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew residential security maps, the vast majority (over 60%) are located in the lowest-grade, redlined neighborhoods.

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 Presented in Session 80. Maps and geospacial data