Arnold As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 18,528 black Americans with Arnold as their last name. That represented 13% of the total of 138,893 entries.

This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Arnold.

We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.

After The Civil War

The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.

From 1870 onward, all black Americans were included.

2,634 people named Arnold were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 349 as mixed.

There was a total of 29,873 people with the name.

Arnold In The 1900 And 1940 Census

The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.

The 1900 census recorded 4,910 people with the last name Arnold as black within a total of 50,980 that year.

By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.

This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.

The 1940 census recorded 7,523 people named Arnold as black within a total of 81,223.

Historic Black Figures With The Arnold Surname

Here is a notable African American in history with Arnold as their last name.

Anna Arnold

  • Born: 1899
  • From: Marshall, Iowa
  • Died: 1990

Anna Arnold grew up in Minnesota. She was the first African American to attend Hamline University, where she graduated in 1922.

President Harry Truman appointed her to the Fair Employment Commission. She later held a post in the New York City mayor’s cabinet, the first black American to do so.

Arnold In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Arnold surname from military service.

Buffalo Soldiers

Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.

One of the earliest military entries for Arnold was in November 1899. Charles Arnold was a Farrier in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in November 1899 at Holguin, Cuba.

Another entry was in September 1913. Willie Arnold was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.

Black Civil War Sailors

The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.

The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.

You can search the database on the National Parks website.

John H. Arnold

One of the earliest entries for Arnold was for John H. Arnold from Trenton, New Jersey. He enlisted in January 1864 at New York when he was aged 31.

The record shows that John H. was assigned on April 1864 to the ship Onondaga.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Filemaker. His naval rank was Coal Heaver.

Coal heavers in the Navy shoveled coal into the furnace in the engine room.

Frank Arnold

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Beaufort, North Carolina in May 1864. Frank was aged 19.

He was assigned to the ship Arletta on September 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Fieldhand/Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.