The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 13,426 black Americans with Blackwell as their last name. That represented 28% of the total of 47,175 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Blackwell.
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.
2,001 people named Blackwell were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 246 as mixed.
There was a total of 7,331 people with the name.
Blackwell 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 4,052 people with the last name Blackwell as black within a total of 13,521 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 5,195 people named Blackwell as black within a total of 24,221.
Historic Black Figures With The Blackwell Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Blackwell as their last name.
- Born: 1919
- From: Centralia, Illinois
- Died: 2010
David Blackwell was the son of a railroad worker. He excelled at school and graduated high school when he was sixteen. He studied mathematics at the University of Illinois and obtained a PhD at twenty-two (that’s exceptionally young!).
While doing post-doctoral research at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1941, but segregation prevented him from attending lectures at Princton’s main university.
Blackwell joined the faculty at Howard University in 1944 and became head of the Mathematics department in 1947. His research there led to the “Rao-Blackwell Theorem” in statistics.
His research was also influential in game theory. He moved to Berkeley in 1954 and became chair of the Statistics Department.
Blackwell In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Blackwell 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 Blackwell was in January 1899. William L. Blackwell was a Saddler Sergeant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in January 1899 at Fort Huachua, Arizona Territory.
Another entry was in September 1914. Paul Blackwell was a Corporal 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 Blackwell was for Emmanuel Blackwell from Lancaster County, Virginia. He enlisted in September 1861 at Hampton Roads when he was aged 23.
The record shows that Emmanuel was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Valley City.
His naval rank was 3rd Class Boy.
“3rd Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of 2nd class boy and then to 1st.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Hampton Roads in September 1861. Solomon was aged 24 and was from Lancaster County, Virginia.
He was assigned to the ship Minnesota on December 1863.
His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of ordinary seaman.
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.
Hubron Blackwell graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Hubron was from Baltimore, Maryland.