This website is about my research on Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 and the controversies that arose from the law, especially on the continuing debates on the race of Indians in the twentieth century.
I wrote a Master’s thesis on this topic in 2011 at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. To complete my thesis, I conducted a fieldwork to Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2010. I looked through boxes of primary sources from the “John Powell Collection” at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.
During my research at the archive, I made several notes and copies of letters written by Walter Plecker, who was one of the main members of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America, a Virginia-based white supremacist organization established in 1922.
I believe Plecker’s correspondence on the 1924 law allows us to see the struggles over creating the definition of race in the South. I examined the complicating impact of Indians in defining race in Virginia, and discovered that because Indians did not fit automatically under the new law’s “one-drop” rule, there were important debates over the racial status of Indians. As a result of the state’s black and white bi-racial division, Indians were categorized as “blacks” instead of “Indians,” and eventually nearly making them racially “extinct.” This showed that the people that created the law were willing to “make” race and “unmake” race, and to enforce their definition onto each racial category.
My research goal is to better understand how and why race is defined and to contribute to the continuing conversation about race in the U.S. And I hope this website will help us see how one influential white supremacists, Walter Plecker, had a power to enforce the law and to define “race” at that time.