The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 16,663 black Americans with Blake as their last name. That represented 23% of the total of 73,797 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Blake.
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.
2,252 people named Blake were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 278 as mixed.
There was a total of 17,149 people with the name.
Blake 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 4,034 people with the last name Blake as black within a total of 25,790 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 5,421 people named Blake as black within a total of 37,780.
Historic Black Figures With The Blake Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Blake as their last name.
- Born: 1935
- From: Shreveport, Louisiana
- Died: 2020
The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the South from 1961. They sat in mixed groups to challenge seating segregation.
If they weren’t arrested on the bus, they would disembark and sit in segregated cafes and terminals.
The activists endured violent arrests from local police who would also let gathering mobs attack them. Many of the Freedom Riders were young college students.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded in 1957 by black religious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King. The Reverend Harry Blake became a field secretary in Shreveport in 1960.
On the 4th August 1961, Blake joined other activists and students at a Trailways station where they entered a whites-only waiting room. They were arrested at the scene.
Two years later, Blake and other freedom riders were sentenced for breaching the peace.
Blake In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Blake 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 Blake was in March 1873. John W. Blake was a Private in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in March 1873 at Fort Clark, Texas.
Another entry was in February 1914. Robert Blake was a Private 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 Blake was for Sharper Blake from South Santee, South Carolina. He enlisted in September 1862 at Georgetown, South Carolina when he was aged 17.
The record shows that Sharper was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Housatonic.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Bricklayer. His naval rank was Contraband.
Contraband was a term for black sailors who fled from slavery under the Confederacy.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in April 1864. Alexander was aged 19 and was from Eastern Shore, Maryland.
He was assigned to the ship Narragansett on March 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.