The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 103 black Americans with Delany as their last name. That represented 5% of the total of 1,909 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Delany.
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.
101 people named Delany were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 45 as mixed.
There was a total of 4,302 people with the name.
Delany 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 233 people with the last name Delany as black within a total of 2,419 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 124 people named Delany as black within a total of 1,223.
Historic Black Figures With The Delany Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Delany as their last name.
- Born: 1812
- From: Charles Town, West Virginia
- Died: 1885
Martin Delany was born free in Charles Town in what was then Virginia (now West Virginia). His father’s people were Gola (Liberia) and his mother’s were Mandinka (Niger Valley).
His family moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, so that the children could be educated (this was illegal in Virginia).
Martin continued his studies under abolitionist doctors and was accepted into Harvard Medical School. He was forced out by white protests but worked as a physician’s assistant.
Delany also worked with Frederick Douglass to set up the black newspaper, the North Star.
Delany’s experiences at Harvard led to his stance on the future for black Americans to be more extreme than other abolitionists. He argued for a return to settlements in West Africa.
Henry Beard Delany
- Born: 1858
- From: St Marys, Georgia
- Died: 1928
Henry Delany was born enslaved in Georgia. His family moved to Florida after emancipation. He attended St Augustine’s College on a scholarship and taught carpentry there after graduating.
Henry’s wife, Nanette Logan, was the college matron. Henry was ordained in 1892 and later became the first black Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.
Two of the couple’s children became dentists. Bessie Delany, their third child, got her dental degree at Columbia University in 1923. She was the second African American woman licensed as a dentist in New York and was a civil rights activist.
Bessie’s brother, Hubert Delany studied law at New York University. He later became a judge and represented the NAACP and many civil rights activists – including Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes, and Adam Clayton Powell.
The science fiction author, Samuel R Delany, is a nephew of Bessie and Hubert.
Other pioneering black dentists
- Ida Gray became a dentist in Chicago in 1890.
- Olive Henderson became the second black female dentist in the city.
- Hugo Owens opened his practice in 1947 in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Delany In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Delany 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 Delany was in September 1883. G Delany was a Recruit in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1883 at Fort Lyon, Colorado Territory.
One of the later entries is for Ellsworth Delany in February 1912. He was a private who was stationed at Washington Barracks, D.c.
Delany In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records
The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.
There are over seventy records for Delany in the archives. Here are some of the first names: