Barrett As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 13,413 black Americans with Barrett as their last name. That represented 13% of the total of 100,104 entries.

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

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.

1,055 people named Barrett were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 106 as mixed.

There was a total of 17,307 people with the name.

Barrett 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 2,249 people with the last name Barrett as black within a total of 32,775 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 3,385 people named Barrett as black within a total of 53,322.

Historic Black Figures With The Barrett Surname

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

Lindon Barrett

  • Born: 1961
  • From: Guyana
  • Died: 2008

Lyndon Barrett was born in Guyana and was a year old when his family moved to England. He was still a child when they moved again to Winnipeg in Canada. He went to university in Toronto, and moved to Denver, Colorado for his masters degree at the university there.

He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990 and joined the faculty of Irvine (University of California). He became a full professor in 2001 and taught there for seventeen years.

Barrett was a co-founder of the African American Studies program at Irvine. He became renowned as a cultural theorist and published several notable books. He met an untimely death in 2008.

Barrett In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Barrett 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 Barrett was in December 1866. William Barrett was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in December 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another entry was in February 1910. Oscar Barrett 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.

James E. Barrett

One of the earliest entries for Barrett was for James E. Barrett from Philadelphia. He enlisted in October 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 24.

The record shows that James E. was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Penobscot.

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.

William W. Barrett

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in August 1864. William W. was aged 20 and was from Baltimore, Maryland.

He was assigned to the ship Calypso on April 1865.

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

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