• E-Books
  • Latest Catalogs
  • Books for Courses
  • Exhibits Listing
  • View Cart

About the Book

Beyond the Book

408 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 illus., notes, bibl., index

Property Rites

The Rhinelander Trial, Passing, and the Protection of Whiteness


In 1925 Leonard Rhinelander, the youngest son of a wealthy New York society family, sued to end his marriage to Alice Jones, a former domestic servant and the daughter of a "colored" cabman. After being married only one month, Rhinelander pressed for the dissolution of his marriage on the grounds that his wife had lied to him about her racial background. The subsequent marital annulment trial became a massive public spectacle, not only in New York but across the nation--despite the fact that the state had never outlawed interracial marriage.

Elizabeth Smith-Pryor makes extensive use of trial transcripts, in addition to contemporary newspaper coverage and archival sources, to explore why Leonard Rhinelander was allowed his day in court. She moves fluidly between legal history, a day-by-day narrative of the trial itself, and analyses of the trial’s place in the culture of the 1920s North to show how notions of race, property, and the law were--and are--inextricably intertwined.

About the Author

Elizabeth Smith-Pryor is assistant professor of history at Kent State University. She practiced law in New York for six years.


Related Titles



© 2015 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy