Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Infamous Walter Plecker and his Letters cont.

Although 31 states would pass eugenics laws, none was tougher than Virginia’s.

The Racial Integrity Act essentially narrowed race classifications on birth and marriage certificates to two choices: “white person”
or “colored.” The law defined a white as one with no trace of black blood. A white person could have no more than a 1/16th trace of Indian blood – an exception, much to Plecker’s regret, legislators made to appease the descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, who were considered among Virginia’s first families.

The act forbade interracial marriage and lying about race on registration forms. Violators faced felony convictions and a year in

This is the last of the Plecker Letters sent by Walter Plecker, State Registrar of Vital Statistics, who was determined to identify any and all mixed blood people in the state of Virginia and deny them their Indian heritage. Surnames of those he sought to disenfranchise are listed at the end of the letter.

Walter Plecker Letter to Local Officials

Images of Letter

January 1943

Local Registrars, Physicians, Health
Officers, Nurses, School Superintendents,
And Clerks of the Courts

Dear Co-workers:

Our December 1942 letter to local registrars, also mailed to the clerks,
Set forth the determined effort to escape from the Negro race of groups of
free Issues," or descendants of the "free mulattoes" of early days, so listed
prior to 1865 in the United States census and various types of State records, as
distinguished from slave Negroes.

Now that these people are playing up the advantages gained by being
Permitted to give "Indian" as the race of the child's parents on birth
certificates, we see the great mistake made in not stopping earlier the organized
Pagation of this racial falsehood. They have been using the advantage thus
As an aid to intermarriage into the white race and to attend white schools,
Now for some time they have been refusing to register with war draft boards
Negroes, as required by the boards which are faithfully performing their
Three of these Negroes from Caroline County were sentenced to prison on
January 12
In the United States Court at Richmond for refusing to obey the draft law
Permitted to classify themselves as "Indian."

Some of these mongrels, finding that they have been able to sneak in
Their birth certificates unchallenged as Indians are now making a rush to
As white. Upon investigation we find that a few local registrars have been
Mitting such certificates to pass through their hands unquestioned and
Warning our office of the fraud. Those attempting this fraud should be
That they are liable to a penalty of one year in the penitentiary (Section
Of the Code). Several clerks have likewise been actually granting them
To marry whites, or at least to marry amongst themselves as Indian or white.
Danger of this error always confronts the clerk who does not inquire
carefully as
To the residence of the woman when he does not have positive information.
Law is explicit that the license be issued by the clerk of the county or
city in
Which the woman resides.

To aid all of you in determining just which are the mixed families, we
Have made a list of their surnames by counties and cities, as complete as
At this time. This list should be preserved by all, even by those in
counties and
Cities not included, as these people are moving around over the State and
Race at the new place. A family has just been investigated which was always
Recorded as Negro around Glade Springs, Washington County, but which changed
White and married as such in Roanoke County. This is going on constantly and
Be prevented only by care on the part of local registrars, clerks, doctors,
Workers, and school authorities.

Please report all known or suspicious cases to the Bureau of Vital
Statistics, giving names, ages, parents, and as much other information as
All certificates of these people showing "Indian" or "white" are now being
And returned to the physician or midwife, but local registrars hereafter
must not
Permit them to pass their hands uncorrected or unchallenged and without a
note of
Warning to us. One hundred and fifty thousand other mulattoes in Virginia
Watching eagerly the attempt of their pseudo-Indian brethren, ready to
follow in
A rush when the first have made a break in the dike.

Very truly yours,

W. A. Plecker, M.D.
State Registrar of Vital Statistics

Page 2


Albemarle: Moon, Powell, Kidd, Pumphrey.
Amherst (Migrants to Alleghany and Campbell): Adcock (Adcox), Beverly (this
family is now trying to evade the situation by adopting the name of Burch or
Birch, which was the name of the white mother of the present adult
generation), Branham, Duff, Floyd, Hamilton, Hartless, Hicks, Johns, Lawless
 Nuckles (Knuckles), Painter, Ramsey, Redcross, Roberts, Southards (Suthards
 Southerds, Southers), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Willis, Clark, Cash, Wood.
Bedford: McVey, Maxey, Branham, Burley. (See Amherst County)
Rockbridge (Migrants to Augusta): Cash, Clark, Coleman, Duff, Floyd,
Hartless, Hicks, Mason, Mayse (Mays), Painters, Pultz, Ramsey, Southerds
(Southers, Southards, Suthards), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Wood, Johns.
Charles City: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn,
King William: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn,
Custalow (Custaloe), Dungoe, Holmes, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes,
Suprlock, Doggett.
New Kent: Collins, Bradby, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins, Langston.
Henrico and Richmond City: See Charles City, New Kent, and King William.
Caroline: Byrd, Fortune, Nelson. (See Essex)
Essex and King and Queen: Nelson, Fortune, Byrd, Cooper, Tate, Hammond,
Brooks, Boughton, Prince, Mitchell, Robinson.
Elizabeth City & Newport News: Stewart (descendants of the Charles City
Halifax: Epps (Eppes), Stewart (Stuart), Coleman, Johnson, Martin, Talley,
Sheppard (Shepard), Young.
Norfolk County & Portsmouth: Sawyer, Bass, Weaver, Locklear (Locklair), King
 Bright, Porter, Ingram.
Westmoreland: Sorrells, Worlds (or Worrell), Atwells, Gutridge, Oliff.
Greene: Shifflett, Shiflet.
Prince William: Tyson, Segar. (See Fauquier)
Fauquier: Hoffman (Huffman), Riley, Colvin, Phillips. (See Prince William)
Lancaster: Dorsey (Dawson).
Washington: Beverly, Barlow, Thomas, Hughes, Lethcoe, Worley.
Roanoke County: Beverly. (See Washington)
Lee and Smyth: Collins, Gibson (Gipson), Moore, Goins, Ramsey, Delph, Bunch,
Freeman, Mise, Barlow, Bolden (Bolin), Mullins, Hawkins. -- Chiefly
Tennessee "Melungeons."
Scott: Dingus. (See Lee County)
Russell: Keith, Castell, Stillwell, Meade, Proffitt. (See Lee & Tazewell)
Tazewell: Hammed, Duncan. (See Russell)
Wise: See Lee, Smyth, Scott, and Russell Counties.

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