The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 27,071 black Americans with Chambers as their last name. That represented 29% of the total of 94,988 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Chambers.
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.
3,157 people named Chambers were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 411 as mixed.
There was a total of 17,711 people with the name.
Chambers 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 6,201 people with the last name Chambers as black within a total of 29,723 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 8,759 people named Chambers as black within a total of 48,160.
Historic Black Figures With The Chambers Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Chambers as their last name.
Julius LeVonne Chambers
- Born: 1936
- From: Mount Gilead, North Carolina
- Died: 2013
Julius Chambers attended North Carolina Central University where he became president of the student body and graduated summa cum laude (highest academic marks) in 1958.
He went on to complete a law degree at UNC at Chapel Hill in 1962. Thurgood Marshall selected him as the first intern with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Chambers established a legal practice in Charlotte in 1964. The firm was involved in several important legal actions for the Civil Rights movement.
The cases involved issues like school busing and employment discrimination. Chambers’ house and office were fire bombed during those times.
He rejoined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1984, but this time as Director Counsel. He led the organization in many civil rights cases during the 1970s and 1980s.
Chambers In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Chambers 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 Chambers was in September 1867. Richard Chambers was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1867 at Fort Gibson, Connecticut.
Another entry was in November 1914. John Chambers 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.
Jacob J. Chambers
One of the earliest entries for Chambers was for Jacob J. Chambers from Wilmington, Delaware. He enlisted in June 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 33.
The record shows that Jacob J. was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Lancaster.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Baltimore in April 1864. Charles was aged 23 and was from Elkton, Maryland.
He was assigned to the ship Ben Morgan on October 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. His naval rank was also Landsman.
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.
Charles Chambers graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1946. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Charles was from Camden, New Jersey.