The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 15,768 black Americans with Bolden as their last name. That represented 72% of the total of 21,819 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Bolden.
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.
693 people named Bolden were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 99 as mixed.
There was a total of 1,263 people with the name.
Bolden 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 2,839 people with the last name Bolden as black within a total of 3,840 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 4,758 people named Bolden as black within a total of 6,579.
Historic Black Figures With The Bolden Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Bolden as their last name.
- Born: 1946
- From: Columbia, South Carolina
Charles Bolden applied for a place in the U.S. Naval Academy when he was in high school in South Carolina. With the segregationist senator Strom Thurmond as part of the selection committee, Bolden’s application was rejected.
But the determined young student wrote to President Lyndon Johnson for assistance, and eventually his place was secured. Bolden graduated from the Academy in 1968 as class president.
Bolden saw combat duty in Vietnam before becoming an ordinance test pilot for the Air Force. He was selected by NASA for the astronaut program in 1980. His first space flight was in January 1986 as pilot on the seventh mission of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
He was pilot again in 1990 on the Space Shuttle Discovery to deploy the Hubble space telescope. Bolden was mission commander on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992. Two years later, he was mission commander on the Space Shuttle Discovery on the first American-Russian mission with a Russian cosmonaut on board.
Bolden served as administrator of NASA from 2009 to his retirement in 2017.
- Born: 1965
- From: New York City
After Victor Bolden graduated from Columbia University in 1968, he attended Harvard Law School.
Bolden spent four years as assistant counsel with the NAACP from 1990 before working in commercial litigation for a private law firm. He returned to the NAACP in 2005 for another four years as general counsel.
He was appointed corporation counsel for the City of New Haven in Connecticut in 2009. He served in that position until he was nominated by President Obama as a district judge in 2014.
Bolden In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Bolden 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 Bolden was in September 1887. Archer Bolden was a Private in the U.S Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1887 at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.
One of the later entries was in April 1914. Zebedee Bolden was a Private 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.
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 Bolden was for Alfred Bolden from Prince Georges County, Maryland. He enlisted in April 23 1864 at Baltimore when he was aged 19.
The record shows that Alfred was assigned on April 1 1866 to the ship Saginaw.
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.
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.
Edgar Bolden graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in December 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Edgar was from Arlington, Virginia.
George Bolden came from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He graduated in September 1945 as a bomber pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.