The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 24,792 black Americans with Carr as their last name. That represented 21% of the total of 119,076 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Carr in the last three centuries.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
Carr Before The Civil War
The 1850 census was the first to record all free members of households together. Before this, people who were not white were not named in the federal census.
In 1850, there was a box to enter color on the census. There were three categories: white, black, and mulatto. The third term is the language of the time, and I will use mixed in this article.
If you are researching your black Carr ancestors in census archives, be sure to check the two non-white categories. Do not assume that the people recording the information were always correct.
1850 Federal Census
There were 143 people named Carr who were recorded as black in the 1850 census. 91 were recorded as mixed.
Because they are in the main federal census, we know that they were free citizens.
There was a total of 15,432 free citizens named Carr that year. There would be one more census in 1860 before the Civil War.
After The Civil War
The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. All African Americans were included.
Those who were omitted in 1850 and 1860 because they were enslaved were now recorded.
3,161 people named Carr were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 523 as mixed.
There was a total of 29,640 people with the name.
Carr In The 1900 And 1940 Census
The mixed category was dropped in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.
The 1900 census recorded 6,529 people with the last name Carr as black within a total of 45,034 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 9,719 people named Carr as black within a total of 66,875.
Historic Black Figures With The Carr Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Carr as their last name.
- Born: 1830s
- From: Virginia
The Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses and travel routes organized by many church and community leaders, civil rights activists, and abolitionists. Thousands of enslaved people were helped to escape from the South.
William Still kept substantial notes on fugitives who were helped on their way through Philadelphia. He published the notes in a book in 1872.
Daniel Carr was one of over twenty fugitive slaves who were smuggled to freedom on a schooner from the South to Philadelphia.
The book describes a dangerous situation when the ship was berthed in Norfolk. The mayor arrived on board with a posse armed with axes.
Thankfully, the captain outwitted the searchers and got his cargo to safety.
You can read the full account in our excerpt on Daniel Carr and The Underground Railroad.
Johnnie Daniels Carr
- Born: 1911
- From: Alabama
- Died: 2008
Johnnie Daniels was the daughter of a farming family in Alabama. Her mother sent her to a school in Montgomery for black girls where Rosa Parks was one of her classmates.
She became active in the NAACP in the 1930s. She and her husband, Arlam Carr, campaigned with Rosa and other civil rights leaders to highlight injustices and mistreatment of the local black community.
Johnnie Carr was one of the organizers of the Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955.
Nine years later, she and her husband won a landmark case against school segregation. Their lawyer was the renowned civil rights attorney Fred Gray. Their son joined twelve other black students to integrate Sidney Lanier High School.
The year before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, he stepped back from his role as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association. Johnnie Carr was elected as his successor in 1967.
She started working for the NAACP in 1938 and pushed for grassroots campaigns. She traveled around the South and worked with people like Septima Clark who was combining adult schools with activism workshops.
Baker was one of the organizers of the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, during which Dr Martin Luther King gave the “Give Us The Ballot” speech.
She was later involved in coordinating the Freedom Rides of 1961 and many other activist groups.
Other women activists who worked with Dr. King
Ella Baker organized the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom where Dr. King gave the “Give Us The Ballot” speech.
Xernona Clayton was a close friend of Coretta Scott King and worked behind the scenes organizing civil rights programs in Atlanta.
Carr In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Carr surname from three different military services:
- Black civil war sailors
- Buffalo soldiers
- 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 Carr was in July 1867. John M Carr was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in July 1867 at Fort Harker, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in February 1912. Henry Carr was a Corporal in the Ninth Cavalry.
If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. 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 Carr was for Robert Carr from New York. He enlisted in January 1863 at Baltimore when he was aged 23.
The record shows that Robert was assigned on April 1863 to the ship State of Georgia.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Mariner. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Samson/Red River in August 1864. Carolina was aged 20 and was from Woodville, Mississippi.
He was assigned to the ship Neosho on December 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer/Laboror. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.