“The Red Book of Houston”

Images of Rev. Logan. Caption reads: "Rev. Wade H. Logan, D. D. District Superintendent Houston District M. E. Church"

Published in 1915, The Red Book of Houston: A Compendium of Social, Professional, Religious, Educational and Industrial Interests of Houston’s Colored Population is quite rare. According to WorldCat, there are two versions of this book held in libraries across the United States. One is at Rice and the other is Prairie View A&M University. This isn’t the full story, though.

While Rice does have a version, ours is quite inferior. It’s simply a photocopy. According to their catalog, it looks like Prairie View’s is, too. If you’d like to see it in it’s actual glory, then please visit the Internet Archive’s version. They have digitized a version owned by the Library of Congress, whose version is not listed on WorldCat.

Back to the actual book, the book is written by and for Black people. It acts both as a piece of information about Black Houston for outsiders, like a promotional book, and as a way to praise the strides made by those featured.

What follows are noteworthy images and sections from the book. If you have never seen this book in all of its glory, you should check it out. Also, for those thinking about connections to The Negro Motorist Green Book, it was first published much later in 1936 by a man named Green. I did a search to see if there might be other “Red Books” and couldn’t find anything. If anyone has any more information, please share in the comments.

Sections of the book include schools with listings and addresses of each employee, as well as a focus on churches and their pastors. There is even a listing of clubs and lodges and all of the Black-owned businesses.

listing of Black-owned businesses

The man who took all or most of the images in the book was C.G. Harris.

Image of C.G. Harris posing with bike. "C.G. Harris, 'The Camera Man' The obliging and efficient official photographer of the Houston Red Book will answer calls by wheel and make photos anywhere in Harris or Galveston Counties. Satisfaction guaranteed. 811 San Felipe Street, Houston, Texas. Phone Preston 5960."
Caption reads: “C.G. Harris, ‘The Camera Man’ The obliging and efficient official photographer of the Houston Red Book will answer calls by wheel and make photos anywhere in Harris or Galveston Counties. Satisfaction guaranteed. 811 San Felipe Street, Houston, Texas. Phone Preston 5960.”

There are many images spread out of prominent African-Americans and images of their homes.

Caption reads: "Residence of Mrs. Annie Hagen, 609 Hobston Street"
Caption reads: “Residence of Mrs. Annie Hagen, 609 Hobston Street”

In a section called “Social Calendar,” there’s a listing of the mostly married women, their address, phone numbers, and short and long bios. Mrs. Annie Hagan above posing with her house is featured.

Text describing the lift of Mrs. Annie Hagen

Throughout the book, there are profiles of notable African-American men.

Images of Ned Eastman Barnes, drawing of railway track brace, biography of Barnes.

While many of the homes profiled in the book are gone. Here is one that still exists and has an historical marker.

Residence of Rev. N. P. Pullum, images of Rev. Pullum and wife, and child
1319 Andrews Street
Current home via Google Maps
Images via Google Maps

Finally, one of the most harrowing images is of former slaves, living in Houston. Some of the ages are off, but it makes sense why some would not have known their years of birth.

Caption reads: "A Few Harris County Survivors of Ante-Bellum Days. Left to right, Name and ages--Standing: Toney Robinson, 88; John Butler, 72; Andy Robinson; Aaron Thompson, 102; Ben Moses, 65; Rev. Cummings, 71; James Steward, 70; Henry Williams. Seated Wash. Williams, 75; Martha Antone; Rebecca Lawrence, 89; Sam Toran, 124; Ben Holmes, 116; Mandy Harris, 93; Clara Roberts, 94; Malvin Williams, 59; Viola Wallace, 80."
Caption reads: “A Few Harris County Survivors of Ante-Bellum Days. Left to right, Name and ages–Standing: Toney Robinson, 88; John Butler, 72; Andy Robinson; Aaron Thompson, 102; Ben Moses, 65; Rev. Cummings, 71; James Steward, 70; Henry Williams. Seated Wash. Williams, 75; Martha Antone; Rebecca Lawrence, 89; Sam Toran, 124; Ben Holmes, 116; Mandy Harris, 93; Clara Roberts, 94; Malvin Williams, 59; Viola Wallace, 80.”

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