The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 29,400 black Americans with Black as their last name. That represented 19% of the total of 154,738 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Black.
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.
5,313 people named Black were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 763 as mixed.
There was a total of 32,877 people with the name.
Black 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 9,327 people with the last name Black as black within a total of 55,485 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 12,845 people named Black as black within a total of 87,537.
Historic Black Figures With The Black Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Black as their last name.
- Born: 1939
- From: Chicago, Illinois
Bob Black attended public schools in Chicago and started working after graduating high school. He joined the Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, as a staff photographer in 1965. He spent three years there before moving to Chicago Sun-Times.
Black has won first prize at the World Press Photo Competition. His photographs have been displayed at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists in 2019.
Black In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Black surname from different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Black was in August 1868. Allen Black was a Wagoner in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1868 at .
Another entry was in July 1908. Jefferson Black was a 1st Sergeant in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.
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.
One of the earliest entries for Black was for George Black from Darlington, South Carolina. He enlisted in July 1861 at Baton Rouge when he was aged 57.
The record shows that George was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Essex.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Blacksmith. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Palmyra, Mississippi in October 1863. Samuel was aged 20 and was from Hinds County, Mississippi.
He was assigned to the ship Carondelet on January 1865.
His naval rank was Nurse.
The Tuskegee Airmen were military personnel who served at the Tuskegee Army Airfield or related programs.
Nearly one thousand black pilots graduated from the Tuskegee Institute. They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.
Samuel Black graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in December 1943. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Samuel was from Plainfield, New Jersey.