Anti-miscegenation laws date back to colonial times.
The History of Birth Certificates is Shorter Than You Might Think
The first such statute was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in Other colonies followed suit. These laws were an American invention. There was no ban on interracial marriage in England at the time. By the late s, 38 states had anti-miscegenation statutes. As late as these laws were on the books in 29 states.
Anti-miscegenation laws varied greatly in the way they defined whom one could and could not marry. In Mississippi, Mongolian-White marriages are illegal and void, while in North Carolina they are permitted.
Racial Integrity Act of 1924
A number of states updated their anti-miscegenation laws in the s. Its sponsors used eugenic arguments to justify restrictions. He told Virginia lawmakers:. White race purity is the cornerstone of our civilization. Its mongrelization with non-white blood, particularly with Negro blood, would spell the downfall of our civilization. This is a matter of both national and racial life and death, and no efforts would be spared to guard against the greatest of all perils—the perils of miscegenation.
On March 20, , state lawmakers passed the Virginia Racial Integrity Act by a wide margin, and the governor signed it into law. The law stated in part:.
Genealogy Resources -- Marriage and Divorce Records
The fact of their cohabitation here as man and wife shall be evidence of their marriage. Walter Plecker, a physician and the director of the Virginia Board of Vital Statistics, was responsible for the enforcement of the law in the early s. West Virginia. County Courts Repository.
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We will use this information to improve our records. Popenoe was a eugenicist and when eugenics fell out of favor, he successfully rebranded himself as a marriage counselor, all the while spreading the gospel of marital improvement for the white cause, though less explicitly. For Popenoe, marriage counseling was a way to practice eugenics, but without the pesky tube tying.
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Popenoe kicked off his career as an editor for the Journal of Heredity. His eugenics theories were bound up with marriage from the beginning. Between and , divorce rates in the United States increased fold. Popenoe worried about the implications for the American gene pool. The result would be a lot of brown babies, and fewer white babies.
To make his message palatable to wider audiences, Popenoe had scrubbed his discussion of marriage of obvious racism, though a discerning eye can still make out the traces. He could just as easily be referring to a shared passion for badminton as he could to race. But behind the scenes, his eugenicist agenda was more obvious. Popenoe carefully cultivated the pool of subjects selected for marital salvation.