What is this Archive?
Despite having always existed, there remains a silence in most archives about mixed race people in America. Some people may have chosen to hide their mixed heritage due to social taboos against interracial marriages, the shame that society imposed onto being associated with a racial minority, or the privilege that came with “passing” as white.
But another reason for the seeming lack of multiracial people could be because of poor data collection ignoring the notion that someone could even be two races. For a long time, the US Census neglected to provide the option for people to indicate more than one race, and because of this, the existence of mixed people was literally erased from records of US population demographics.
As a person of mixed heritage myself, I thought it was important to bring light to the archival silence left by mixed-race people, and demonstrate how the US Census has changed over time to address these issues.
Selecting Archive Materials
The materials I chose to display in my archive were chosen in order to give evidence of the mixed race people who have existed throughout America’s long history of disregarding these dual identities, as well as to demonstrate to the process of census taking throughout history.
Most of my images, documents, and other materials came from DPLA (the Digital Public Library of America), but when search results for terms like “biracial” “multiracial” and “interracial” became sparse, I turned to the root sources for the DPLA materials to locate what I was looking for.
The archive I built is condensed onto one page that covers both how the US Census has evolved, and how those changes reflect American society's everchanging views on race. The main page can be found here.
Moore, Solomon. “Census' Multiracial Option Overturns Traditional Views.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 5 Mar. 2001, articles.latimes.com/2001/mar/05/news/mn-33659.
Parker, Kim. “Race and Multiracial Americans in the U.S. Census.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, 11 June 2015, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/06/11/chapter-1-race-and-multiracial-americans-in-the-u-s-census/.
US Census Bureau Public Information Office. “Newsroom Archive.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, United States Census Bureau, 19 May 2016, www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/race/cb12-182.html.