The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 105,091 black Americans with Day as their last name. That represented 10% of the total of 10,971 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Day.
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.
2,418 people named Day were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 526 as mixed.
There was a total of 27,674 people with the name.
Day 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 4,340 people with the last name Day as black within a total of 43,313 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 5,360 people named Day as black within a total of 62,374.
Historic Black Figures With The Day Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Day as their last name.
Lucy Stanton Day
- Born: 1831
- From: Ohio
- Died: 1910
Lucy Stanton’s stepfather was an abolitionist who ran a safe house on the Underground Railroad in Cleveland. Lucy graduated with a degree in literature from Oberlin College in 1849.
She became a school principal and married William Day, a civil rights activist who eventually left her and their child.
After the introduction of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, American slave catches started going over the Canadian border to grab escaped slaves. The Chatham Vigilance Committee was founded in Ontario, one of several groups that sought to protect fugitives.
Lucy was a member of the Chatham Committee. Their activities included storming a train in Chatham to rescue a boy, Sylvanus Demarest, being transported to Michigan by a slave catcher.
Chatham Vigilance Committee
These were other black members of the committee:
Day In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Day 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 Day was in April 1884. Louis Day was a Corporal in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in April 1884 at Fort Concho, Texas.
One of the later entries was in May 1914. William H Day 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 Day was for Jacob Day from New York, New York. He enlisted in March 9 1863 at New York when he was aged 21.
The record shows that Jacob was assigned on January 1 1864 to the ship Silver Cloud.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.