Collier As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 15,442 black Americans with Collier as their last name. That represented 27% of the total of 56,380 entries.

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

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.

1,686 people named Collier were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 168 as mixed.

There was a total of 7,429 people with the name.

Collier 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 3,450 people with the last name Collier as black within a total of 15,445 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 5,736 people named Collier as black within a total of 27,662.

Historic Black Figures With The Collier Surname

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

John Collier

  • Born: 1914
  • From: Plainfield, New Jersey

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.

John Collier graduated from Wilberforce University in 1936 and obtained a divinity degree in 1938. He served as an AME pastor in Buffalo, New York, from 1948 to 1950, and then for many years in Newark, New Jersey.

The Reverend Collier became a Freedom Rider in 1961. The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the South. 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.

Collier took part in the Interfaith Freedom Ride from Washington D.C. to Tallahassee, Florida, in June 1961. The black travelers were joined by Rabbis and white ministers.

Ten of the activists, including Collier, tried to enter the segregated restaurant at the Tallahassee. They were arrested and jailed.

Collier In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Collier 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 Collier was in June 1879. John Collier was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1879 at La Mesita, New Mexico.

Another entry was in June 1914. William Collier was a Sergeant 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.

Daniel Collier

One of the earliest entries for Collier was for Daniel Collier from Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He enlisted in December 1865 at Boston when he was aged 18.

The record shows that Daniel was assigned on December 1865 to the ship Hartford.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Seaman/Chairmaker. His naval rank was Landsman.

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

Nelson Collier

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Red River in August 1864. Nelson was aged 20 and was from Woodville, Mississippi.

He was assigned to the ship Samson on March 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer/Fieldhand. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.

“1st 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 ordinary seaman.