Publisher: University of Virginia Special Collections
Bureau of Vital Statistics letter from Walter A. Plecker
A 1924 letter from Walter A. Plecker, head of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, accuses Mrs. Robert Cheatham of lying about the precise racial makeup of her child. The midwife at the birth had stated that both the mother and father were white, but Plecker claims that he has evidence from the health department in Lynchburg that the infant's father was actually African American. "This is a mulatto child and you cannot pass it off as white," Plecker writes, and he also issues a stern warning to Mrs. Cheatham: if she doesn't do something to remedy this offense against the new racial integrity law, which precludes anyone with "one drop of negro blood" from claiming to be white, she will risk prison time for falsifying the record.