Browse Items (18 total)

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In an application for a marriage license, one had to indicate not only that he or she was not "a habitual criminal, idiot, imbecile, hereditary epileptic or insane person," but but also whether he or she was "white, colored, or mixed."

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In a letter to A.T. Shields, Walter Plecker inquired into the problem of the "free issue" people of Rockbridge and alluded to the "unfortunate mistake made by Judge Holt in deciding that one of those families is of Indian blood and should be allowed…

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A.T. Shields, clerk of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge County, denied Atha Sorrells and Robert Painter a marriage license because of Sorrells' Indian heritage. Sorrells and Painter brought action against Shields, and Judge Holt ruled in their favor,…

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In a letter to Turner McDowell, clerk of the Circuit Court in Botetourt County, Walter Plecker probed the legality of the marriage between Grace Mohler and Samuel Christian Branham. The court ruled that Branham was a "Negro" and ordered him "never…

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In a letter to A.T. Shields, Walter Plecker asserted that Judge Holt's decision to categorize Atha Sorrells as white despite her Indian heritage had "emboldened" the Rockbridge tribe. Nonetheless, he advised against appealing the Sorrells case to the…

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In his application for a marriage license, Charlie Sorrells indicated that both he and his fiancee, Sophia Jane Woods, were white. A.T. Shields, the same clerk of the court who denied Atha Sorrells' right to marry, signed the license. The Sorrells'…

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Every person living in Virginia had to register as either "white" or "colored." This designation determined whom a person could marry and where he or she could attend school, among other things.
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