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Published by Victor H. Green, an entrepreneurial and eloquent Harlem-based letter carrier, the guides began in 1936 as 14 pages of listings in the New York metropolitan area, culled by a network of postal workers. By the 1960s, they had bloomed into nearly 100 pages, covering the 50 states and other countries. (Mr. Green eventually changed the name to “The Negro Travelers’ Green Book” when mobility moved beyond motoring to air travel.) Over the years, they were used by drivers who wanted to avoid the segregation of mass transit, job seekers relocating North during the Great Migration, newly drafted soldiers heading South to World War II army bases, traveling businessmen and vacationing families. Travelers could purchase copies at black-friendly businesses or order them by mail.

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"I'm for Robinson" buttons were sold outside the park.

Few of the books remain. Mr. Adams first came across a copy last year at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, which has a rare, nearly complete set (). At the time, he was digging through the archive of the trailblazing 1980s African-American fashion designer Patrick Kelly, the subject of his at at the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem (organized with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), through Feb. 23.

“You’re like Ted Williams’s batting coach,” Mr. Favreau said.

Recognized internationally for his kaleidoscopic explorations of the black experience, Mr. Adams, 47, who is African-American, is the first major visual artist to use the Green Books as a creative point of departure. For him, they are not only a Civil Rights artifact and instrument of social change, but also a fascinating record of black leisure time and the built environment — subjects that are continuously percolating in his work.

But even Ted Williams needed a little help with his swing.

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A native of Georgia, Robinson won fame in baseball, football, basketball and track at the University of California at Los Angeles before entering the armed service as a private. He emerged a lieutenant in 1945 and in October of that year was signed to a Montreal contract. Robinson's performances in the International League, which he led in batting last season with an average of .349, prompted President Branch Rickey of the Dodgers to promote Jackie.

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The decision was made while Robinson was playing first base for Montreal against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Jackie was blanked at the plate and contributed little to his team's 4-3 victory before 14,282 fans, but it was nevertheless a history-making day for the well-proportioned lad.

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Jackie had just popped into a double-play, attempting to bunt in the fifth inning, when Arthur Mann, assistant to Rickey, appeared in the press box. He handed out a brief, typed announcement: "The Brooklyn Dodgers today purchased the contract of Jackie Roosevelt Robinson from the Montreal Royals."

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Jackie Robinson, 28-year-old infielder, yesterday became the first Negro to achieve major-league baseball status in modern times. His contract was purchased from the Montreal Royals of the International League by the Dodgers and he will be in Brooklyn uniform at Ebbets Field today, when the Brooks oppose the Yankees in the first of three exhibition games over the week-end.