Daniels As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 57,162 black Americans with Daniels as their last name. That represented 39% of the total of 146,570 entries.

This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Daniels in the last three centuries.

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 onwards, all black Americans were included.

2,264 people named Daniels were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 302 as mixed.

There was a total of 16,022 people with the name.

Daniels 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 7,003 people with the last name Daniels as black within a total of 30,355 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 14,947 people named Daniels as black within a total of 62,228.

Historic Black Figures With The Daniels Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Daniels as their last name.

Johnnie Daniels

  • 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 such as Septima Clark  to highlight injustices and mistreatment of the local black community.

Johnnie 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. Fred Gray, the renowned civil rights attorney acted on their behalf.

Their son joined twelve other black students to integrate the Sidney Lanier High School.

Johnie Daniels Carr was also one of the coordinators of the 1961 Freedom Riders.

Freedom riders

If you want to read about some of the Freedom Riders, here are just three of many:

Hayzel Daniels

  • Born: 1907
  • From: Fort Clark, Texas
  • Died: 1992

Hayzel Daniels was the first black American to get a law degree from the University of Arizona Law School. He was also the first to be called to the Arizona State Bar.

Daniels won several high-profile cases against school segregation in the 1950s.

The ruling in his 1952 case was used in the watershed Brown vs Board Of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1965, he became the first black judge in Arizona.

Daniels In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Daniels surname from three different military services:

  • Buffalo soldiers
  • Black civil war sailors
  • Tuskegee airmen

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 Daniels was in August 1867. John Daniels was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas.

One of the later entries was in February 1914. William Daniels was a Corporal in the Tenth 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.

Aaron Daniels

One of the earliest entries for Daniels was for Aaron Daniels from Hartford, Connecticut. He enlisted in September 1862 at New London when he was aged 19.

The record shows that Aaron was assigned on October 1863 to the ship Tuscumbia.

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

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

This seems at odds with the fact that Aaron’s occupation before enlisting was as a mariner or sailor. But African Americans struggled to get recognition for their skill when it came to assigned rank.

Benjamin Daniels

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Plymouth in December 1863. Benjamin was aged 15 and was from Tarboro, North Carolina.

He was assigned to the ship J.N. Seymour on March 1864.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer/Farmer. His naval rank was 3rd Class Boy.

“3rd Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who were under eighteen when they enlisted.

Tuskegee Airmen

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.

Harry Daniels graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Harry was from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Virgil Daniels came from Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated in January 1944 as a bomber pilot.

There were several more airmen with the surname of Daniels. You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.