The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 18,704 black Americans with Chapman as their last name. That represented 15% of the total of 127,939 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Chapman.
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.
3,224 people named Chapman were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 560 as mixed.
There was a total of 28,465 people with the name.
Chapman 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 5,349 people with the last name Chapman as black within a total of 44,269 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 8,114 people named Chapman as black within a total of 71,312.
Historic Black Figures With The Chapman Surname
Here is a notable African American in history with Chapman as their last name.
Edythe Mae Chapman
- Born: About 1897
- From: Washington D.C.
- Died: 1980
Edythe Mae Chapman graduated from high school in 1916. She married Eugene Gordon the same year, who was a student at Howard University. They moved to Boston where Edythe attended Boston University.
Her husband organized a literary group for black writers that published a literary magazine, the Quill. Edythe’s short stories and poems appeared in the Quill. One of her stories was praised by the O.Henry Award committee in 1928.
Edythe obtained a masters in Social Services in 1935, based on her thesis on the status of black women. Although she divorced Gordon, the couple was an important part of the literary Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance after the First World War was a period when African American art, literature, and music flourished around Harlem.
Painters, poets, writers, and musicians established a creative hub of black culture in the United States. The movement was hugely influential on the development of black literature and art through the twentieth century and today.
Chapman In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Chapman 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 Chapman was in June 1867. Wilson Chapman was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Baltimore.
Another entry was in April 1911. Silas Chapman 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 Chapman was for Charles Chapman from Richmond, Virginia. He enlisted in November 1864 at Boston when he was aged 26.
The record shows that Charles was assigned on July 1863 to the ship Fearnot.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Bricklayer. 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 Cairo in December 1864. Randall was aged 16.
He was assigned to the ship Sibyl on June 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Wagoner. His naval rank was 2nd Class Boy.
“2nd Class Boy” was a rank generally given to seamen in training, who performed various manual tasks and duties aboard a ship under supervision. This could prepare them for promotion to the rank of 1st class boy and then to ordinary seaman.