On This Day: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2012-12-29 04:45Z by Steven

On This Day: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander

Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement
University of North Carolina

Alison Shay

On December 5, 1925—87 years ago today—the jury in the annulment trial Rhinelander v. Rhinelander found in favor of a mixed-race woman sued for marriage annulment by her white husband.

Leonard Kip Rhinelander, a wealthy white society man, pursued and in 1924 married Alice Jones, a working class woman with British parents—one white, the other of mixed ethnicity. Only one month after their marriage, Leonard sued to annul the marriage, claiming that Alice had misrepresented her racial background.

Leonard’s family had objected to the couple’s relationship throughout their courtship, but had failed to break them up. By marrying Alice, Leonard caused her to be the first African American woman listed in The Social Register...

…In Property Rites: The Rhinelander Trial, Passing, and the Protection of Whiteness (UNC Press 2009), Elizabeth Smith-Pryor argues that the Rhinelander trial encapsulated the tremendous anxieties over racial passing, class slippage, and black migration in the northern United States during this era.

Other books about the trial include Angela Onwuachi-Willig’s According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family (Yale University Press, forthcoming in 2013) and Heidi Ardizzone’s Love on Trial: An American Scandal in Black and White (Norton 2002)…

Read the entire article here.

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