Booker As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 24,027 black Americans with Booker as their last name. That represented 65% of the total of 36,840 entries.

This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Booker.

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.

3,458 people named Booker were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 450 as mixed.

There was a total of 7,135 people with the name.

Booker 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 7,256 people with the last name Booker as black within a total of 12,904 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 8,879 people named Booker as black within a total of 19,535.

Historic Black Figures With The Booker Surname

Here is a notable African American in history with Booker as their last name.

Simeon Booker

  • Born: 1918
  • From: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Died: 2017

Simeon Booker’s family moved from Baltimore to Youngstown, Ohio, when he was young. He studied English at Virginia Union University, where he wrote articles about the sports teams and about Negro League Baseball.

After graduation, he worked as a journalist for several black newspapers. When he joined the Washington Post in 1952, he was their first black reporter. Booker’s work came to prominence when covered the trial of the murderers of Emmet Till in 1955.

Six years later, Jet Magazine sent him to cover the Freedom Rides of 1961. He and photographer Ted Gaffney were on board a Trailways bus from Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama, to observe one group of activists. Booker wrote about how Klansmen got on the bus and attacked the freedom riders.

You can read more in our account of the experience of Ike Reynolds on the Freedom Rides.

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.

Booker In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Booker surname from military service.

Buffalo Soldiers

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 Booker was in January 1873. Ambrose E. Booker was a Captain in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in January 1873 at Fort Clark, Texas.

Another entry was in March 1914. James F. Booker was a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

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.

Robert Booker

One of the earliest entries for Booker was for Robert Booker from Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He enlisted in August 1863 at New York when he was aged 24.

The record shows that Robert was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Vicksburg.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter/Cook. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.

Levi Booker

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at St. Inigoes in April 1864. Levi was aged 27 and was from Northumberland County, Virginia.

He was assigned to the ship Mathew Vassar on June 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.