Barber As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 14,492 black Americans with Barber as their last name. That represented 18% of the total of 78,848 entries.

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

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

After Emancipation

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.

2,080 people named Barber were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 376 as mixed.

There was a total of 18,736 people with the name.

Barber 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 5,015 people with the last name Barber as black within a total of 30,229 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 6,014 people named Barber as black within a total of 43,667.

Historic Black Figures With The Barber Surname

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

Jesse Max Barber

  • Born: 1878
  • From: Blackstock, South Carolina
  • Died: 1949

J. Max Barber attended Virginia Union Unveristy where he edited the university journal and was president of the literary society.

He joined the black arts magazine Voice of the Negro when he graduated in 1903. He would rise to be editor in chief.

The year after his graduation, Barber was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement.

About the Niagara Movement

The Niagara Movement was a civil rights group organized in the United States in 1905. The first meeting took place at the Niagara Falls in Canada. The movement was founded by prominent black intellectuals who were dissatisfied with the conservative policies of Booker T. Washington.

The Niagara Movement advocated for full civil liberties for African Americans. In contrast, Booker T.  Washington advocated gradual progress through training and economic self-help.

After the Springfield Race Riot in 1908, W.E.B. Du Bois and some other members recognized the need for a larger, more influential organization. This led to the establishment of the NAACP in 1909, which soon absorbed the Niagara Movement.

However, the older group played a pivotal role in shaping the early 20th-century civil rights agenda. And Max Barber played his own role in this piece of history.

Other founders of the Niagara Movement

Here are some other co-founders:

Barber In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Barber 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 Barber was in April 1873. David S. Barber was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in April 1873 at Fort Clark, Texas.

Another entry was in April 1915. John R. Barber was a Captain in the U.S. Tenth 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.

Franklin Barber

One of the earliest entries for Barber was for Franklin Barber from Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in August 1864 at Baltimore when he was aged 20.

The record shows that Franklin was assigned on May 1865 to the ship Pequot.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Painter. His naval rank was Landsman.

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

Jonathan Barber

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Cairo in October 1864. Jonathan was aged 19 and was from Columbus, Wisconsin.

He was assigned to the ship on .

His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. His naval rank was Landsman.

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