Circular Letter to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture,” from Walter A. Plecker, State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Richmond

Circular Letter to “Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture,” from Walter A. Plecker, State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Richmond

Commonwealth of Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics
Richmond, Virginia
December 1943

Source: Rockbridge County (Va.) Clerk’s Correspondence, 1912-1943. Local Government Records Collection, Rockbridge County Court Records. The Library of Virginia. 10-0878-003.

In a 1943 letter to local registrars, clerks, and legislators, Plecker asserted, “[T]here does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood.”

To Local Registrars, Clerks, Legislators, and others responsible for, and interested in, the prevention of racial intermixture:

In our January 1943 annual letter to local registrars and clerks of courts, with list of mixed surnames, we called attention to the greatly increased effort and arrogant demands now being made for classification as whites, or at least for recognitions as Indians, as a preliminary step to admission into the white race by marraiage, of groups of the descendants of the “free negroes,” so designated before 1865 to distinguish them from slaves.

According to Mendel’s law of heredity, one out of four of a family of mixed breeds, through the introduction of illegitimate white blood, is now so near white in appearance as to lead him to proclaim himself as such and to demand admission into white schools, forbidden by the State Constitution.¬† The other three people of this type are applying for licenses to marry whites, or for white licenses when intermarrying amongst themselves.¬† These they frequently secure with ease when they apply in a county or city not the home of the woman and are met by clerk or deputy who justifies himself in accepting a casual affidavit as the truth and in issuing a license to any applicant regardless of the requirements of Section 5099a, Paragraph 4, of the Code.¬† This Section places the proof upon the applicants, not upon the clerks.¬† We have learned that affidavits cannot always be accepted as truth. This loose practice (to state it mildly) of a few clerks is now the greatest obstacle in the way of proper registration by race required of the State Registrar of Vital Statistics in that Section. Local registrars, who are supposed to know the people of their registration areas, of course, have no excuse for not catching false registration of births and deaths.

Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and in the State Library, indicate that there does not exist today a descendant of Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood

Read the entire letter here.

Tags: , , , ,