Victor Hugo Green was born November 9, 1892. He was a Harlem, New York postal employee and civic leader and creator of an African American travel guide known as The Green Book. Green used his connections as a postal worker to identify hotels, restaurants, and other places that would do business with blacks. It was first published as The Negro Motorist Green Book and later as The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. The books were published from 1936 to 1964. He reviewed hotels and restaurants that did business with African Americans during the time of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the United States. 15,000 copies were printed each year.
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.” The Green Book was highly successful, especially as cars became more affordable and using them for long distance travel was becoming more common. Black drivers, however, had to navigate segregated accommodations, couldn’t join AAA, and were often the victims of racial profiling from police and others.
After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Green ended publication. Green also died in 1964. Green Books are extremely rare to find these days. Click here to view a copy of Green Book published in 1949.
Dr. Georgia Rooks Dwelle was born in Albany Georgia in 1884. She was the daughter of a slave who had bought freedom for himself and his mother. Dr. Dwelle was the first Spelman College alumna to attend medical school. She went on to establish the Dwelle Infirmary in 1920 in Atlanta, GA. Dwelle Infirmary was the first general hospital for African Americans in Georgia. It was also the first obstetrical hospital for African American women. Dwelle infirmary also featured a pediatric clinic and was Georgia’s first venereal disease clinic for African Americans. Dwelle Infirmary offered Atlanta’s first “Mother’s Club” for African American women as well.
Dr. Dwelle faced considerable opposition and both gender and racial discrimination. However, she continued to persevere. She firmly believed that competent women physicians could create their own opportunities in the medical field. And that’s exactly what she did! Dr. Dwelle attended Walker Baptist Institute, then Spelman Seminary, graduating with an A.B. in 1900. She then enrolled in Meharry Medical College. Needing to catch up on her pre-med training, she took extra courses at a nearby university and received special tutoring. She graduated with honors from Meharry Medical College in 1904.
She was one of only three African-American women physicians in Georgia at that time. Dr. Dwelle practiced in Augusta, GA for two years and then moved to Atlanta, GA to set up an obstetrical and pediatrics practice in 1906. She was appalled by the living conditions of poor blacks in Atlanta. This inspired her to establish the Dwelle Infirmary in northeast Atlanta. She began with a few rented rooms and two beds. Dwelle Infirmary was both the first general hospital for African-Americans in Atlanta and the first “lying-in” obstetrical hospital for African-American women. Dwelle Infirmary was officially incorporated in 1920. By 1935, Dwelle Infirmary had grown into a general practice, providing a number of services to the black community. Some of the medical services included: a “well-baby” clinic, venereal disease clinic (first one for blacks in Georgia), and the state of Georgia’s first “Mother’s Club” for African-American women. The Mother’s Club offered education and information in pre/post natal care. Dwelle Infirmary remained in operation for 27 years until Dr. Dwelle retired to Chicago with her second husband in 1949.
During her medical career in Atlanta, Georgia Dwelle was also active in the community. She served as the vice-president of the National Medical Association (a professional organization for black physicians), chaired the Association’s Pediatric Commission, and served in many other civic and philanthropic roles. Dr. Dwelle would later write that she “had an inborn instinct for Social Work” and “found an outlet…in the practice of medicine,” which offered “an excellent opportunity to live the only worthwhile life, ‘the life of Service’.” She remained active in the community even after retirement. Dr. Dwelle in 1977.