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 veins.

Baldwin Avenue Evangelical Church
210 Baldwin Avenue
Pontiac, Michigan

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 suggestions.

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 manner.

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 matter.

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