Lot 280: (MILITARY--WORLD WAR TWO.) American Red Cross. Statement of Policy Regarding Negro Blood Donors.

Swann Auction Galleries

March 29, 2018
New York, NY, US

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Description: (MILITARY--WORLD WAR TWO.) American Red Cross. Statement of Policy Regarding Negro Blood Donors. Mimeographed memorandum, 11 x 8 1/2 inches, on red and black American Red Cross letterhead; mailing folds. Accompanied by the original stamped envelope and a cover letter from a Red Cross official to a local chapter chairman in Iowa, explaining that "differences of opinion on this subject are such that they cannot be reconciled by the Red Cross," 20 October 1943. Washington, DC, 21 January 1942
Notes: The memorandum reads in part: "The Red Cross, in agreement with the Army and the Navy, is prepared hereafter to accept blood donations from colored as well as white persons. In deference to the wishes of those for whom the plasma is being provided, the blood will be processed separately so that those receiving transfusions may be given plasma from blood of their own race." This policy of segregating blood was controversial at the time, and was based purely on prejudice--there is no scientific distinction to be made between "black" or "white" blood, both of which ran equally red in wartime. To add to the irony, Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), an African-American physician, had been instrumental in developing the blood bank technology which saved so many lives in the war, and was the first director of a Red Cross blood bank. The segregation of blood was done over his vocal objections.
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