Walter Plecker

Bureau of Vital Statistics

The work of Dr. Walter Plecker’s Bureau of Vital Statistics would culminate in Virginia’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act, which remained on the books until it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. Plecker is depicted in the novel, Forsaken. Born into a slave-owning family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia just days before […]

Elizabeth City County Courthouse, 1913. (Courtesy of the Hampton History Museum, Hampton, Va. Cheyne Collection 2009.15.1998)

Dangerous Situation

(Large photo) Elizabeth City County Courthouse, Hampton, Virginia, where Virginia Christian was tried for murder in 1912. (Small photo) Inez C. Fields, the daughter of George Washington Fields, lead defense attorney in the Virginia Christian trial. (Massachusetts Historical Society) Was it a good idea for the father [Henry Christian] to testify that he did not know the […]

Santa Claus

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

“Is there a Santa Claus?” asked little Virginia O’Hanlon in a letter to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper in 1897. Francis Pharcellus Church wrote the paper’s legendary reply. “Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus,” Church said. “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that […]

0349 Sheriff Curtis & Officers 1920

Sheriff R. K. Curtis

How excited I was when I found the photograph of the six men above! Why? The man standing at the far right is the historical Sheriff R. K. Curtis, who arrested and held Virginia Christian in the Elizabeth City County jail in Hampton. Sheriff Curtis’s deputies accompanied the girl to the courthouse the days of […]