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The Fletcher Report: 75 Years On

Mark Christian

This presentation examines a controversial report that focused negatively on mixed heritage children born and raised in the city of Liverpool. The official title was: Report on an Investigation into the Colour Problem in Liverpool and other ports. The social researcher was Muriel E. Fletcher, who had been trained in the Liverpool School of Social Science at The University of Liverpool in the early 1920s. The report was published in 1930 amid controversy for its openly stigmatizing content of children and mixed heritage families of African and European origin. It could be deemed the official outset in defining Liverpool's "half castes" as a problem and a blight to the "British way of life" in the city.

The report will be examined point by point to show both the serious flaws in methodology and its inherent bias against the children of African and European descent. Indeed the pathological stigmatizing via eugenics did much harm for both the children and the broader black community for decades later. It also established more permanently in the city's ideological institutional infrastructure the negative nomenclature defining mixed heritage children: "Half-Caste". Crucially, this presentation unearths a historical example of what it meant and did not mean to be white British in the city of Liverpool in the 1920s and 1930s, and how this would mark the path of racialized struggle for many decades to come.

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