ERIC Number: ED351212
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991
Reference Count: N/A
Eugenics, Race Integrity, and the Twentieth-Century Assault on Virginia's Indians.
Smith, J. David
This paper documents efforts made by some Virginians in the first half of the 20th century to promote and maintain racial separatism. In the early 1920s, the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America were founded in Virginia, and the leaders of this group successfully persuaded the state legislature to pass, in 1924, the Race Integrity Act. This Act created two racial groups in Virginia: white and colored. Anyone who could not prove himself or herself white was classified as colored for the purposes of birth records, marriage licenses, school attendance, and death certificates. Much of this paper focuses on Virginia's first Registrar of Vital Statistics, Walter Plecker, and his campaign to preserve the integrity of the white race, which he perceived to be threatened. Under the Race Integrity Act there was no valid means of determining racial status, so Plecker had the opportunity to make subjective decisions about the rights of people to marry, to designate the race of their own children on birth certificates, and to claim a racial heritage of their own choosing. Plecker devoted a great deal of time and energy to discounting the claims of Virginia's Indian peoples to their heritage. The legislative, bureaucratic, and judicial means Plecker and others sought to use in these efforts are recounted. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Eugenics; Virginia
Note: Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians (Louisville, KY, April 11, 1991).