The following letter comes from the Harry Laughlin
Papers which are located at the University of Missouri at Kirksville,
Missouri. We usually think of racism as hatred towards a minority
group. In this case, however, there is no hatred. On the contrary,
everyone in the community has great compassion for the two boys
in question. Unfortunately, we do not have Dr. Laughlin's reply,
but it is clear that two perfectly normal boys were considering
sterilization because they had "black blood" running in their
Baldwin Avenue Evangelical Church
210 Baldwin Avenue
August 18, 1939
Eugenics Record Office
Cold Spring Harbor
Long Island, New York
I am writing to you at the suggestion of Dr.
William S. Sadler of 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago Illinois. A
few days ago I wrote to him for his advise regarding the matter
that I am about to present to you and he told me of your office
and suggested that perhaps your records might give some helpful
A few years ago two young men came to our
city from a state several hundred miles distance. These brothers
lived in our home and shared our devotional and church life and
we have learned to love them as one of our family.
Then one day, unsolicited, word came to me
that these boys have a strain of black blood in their veins. This
seemed impossible to me since there were no negro characterisitics
(sic!) apparent to me. They have no thick lips. Their hair is
light brown and their eyes light blue and their complexion is
fair. But I carefully sought facts and when I was fairly certain
from these, I approached the boys and they too informed me that
it was so and that they learned the truth when they were in high
school. I believe they have told me the truth and they are facing
the problem, for which they are not responsible, in a very courageous
These boys, 24 and 28 years of age, have met
girls and I discover that they are contemplating marriage. The
girls know the conditions and the girls parents also know it.
The young people and the mother of one of the girls has come to
me for advise. There is no feeling of animosity between the parents
and the young man. There is a deep sympathetic desire to do what
is right. Their questions are: Is there any assurance that children
would not revert back to black? Can they be certain of birth control
methods? Is sterilization the only positive and right procedure?
If the man submits to such an operation could the sex act still
be practiced with satisfying results? Do you have any scientific
data on hand to give us a helpful report?
These young men, both contemplate sterilization
and have asked me to investigate for them. I plan to do that today,
but I shall wait for word from you before any final step is taken.
I am enclosing a statement of the family history
as accurately (sic!) given as the boys know from the father's
side. The facts are not fully known on the mother's side. If there
is a strain on the mother's side the boys think that it is probably
with American Indian.
If there are any questions and statements
of fact that you desire and I can be of any help, be assured that
I shall gladly do anything possible to get to the truth in this
It seems unfortunate that a public announcement
of the engagement and date of anticipated wedding has been made.
Probably some postponements will have to be made so if we could
have some word soon it would be deeply appreciated.
It appears now that they will go on with their
plans and our ultimate question is, should sterilization be done?
Rev. Cletus Parker