The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 11,446 black Americans with Blair as their last name. That represented 15% of the total of 78,026 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Blair.
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.
1,534 people named Blair were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 216 as mixed.
There was a total of 14,811 people with the name.
Blair 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 2,791 people with the last name Blair as black within a total of 26,123 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 3,818 people named Blair as black within a total of 42,385.
Historic Black Figures With The Blair Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Blair as their last name.
- Born: About 1823
- From: Tennessee
- Died: 1916
Norvel Blair sent his two sons, Patrick and Benjamin, to scout for land in Sully County, South Dakota, in the early 1880s.
Norvel was in his sixties by then but was a shrewd businessman. He moved his family to a homestead in the region and they cultivated an extra ten acres every year.
As well as farming, the Blairs raised racehorses. One of their horses held the speed record in South Dakota for several years. They became a wealthy family with several commercial enterprises and built several schools in the county.
Blair In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Blair surname from military service.
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 Blair was in March 1888. William H. Blair was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in March 1888 at Camp on Gala River.
Another entry was in December 1915. Harry C. Blair was a 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.
You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.
Blair In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records
The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.
There are over 740 records for Blair in the archives. Here are some of the first names: