The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 3,373 black Americans with Draper as their last name. That represented 14% of the total of 24,337 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Draper.
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.
532 people named Draper were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 101 as mixed.
There was a total of 5,385 people with the name.
Draper 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 966 people with the last name Draper as black within a total of 8,640 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 1,211 people named Draper as black within a total of 13,180.
Historic Black Figures With The Draper Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Draper as their last name.
Maggie Draper Walker
- Born: 1864
- From: Richmond, Virginia
- Died: 1934
Maggie Draper married Armistead Walker in 1868. Her marriage meant she had to leave her teaching job in Richmond. She was already a member of the Independent Order of St Luke, a black association that promoted economic activities.
Maggie became a senior member in the organization and was “grand deputy matron” by 1895. She established a newspaper and the St Luke Penny Savings Bank.
She was the first black woman to charter a bank in the United States.
- Born: 1935
- From: Richmond, Virginia
- Died: 2002
Louis Draper attended Virginia State University from 1953 majoring in history. His father gave him a camera, but his life changed when he picked up a copy of a seminal photography catalog that was in his dorm room. That work was Edward Steichen’s photo exhibition, “The Family of Man”.
Draper was enthralled by the book and went on to study all the works on photography in the college library. He left without completing his history degree as he knew he wanted to be a photographer. He was dissatisfied with the way that African Americans were depicted in newspapers and magazines, and he set out to capture the vibrant complexity of black life.
Draper’s photographs captured everyday people in Harlem going about their business as well as leading artistic figures like Langston Hughes. He also captured the ongoing civil rights movement in some iconic photographs.
Other Black Photographers
Here are some other notable black photographers in history:
Draper In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Draper 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 Draper was in August 1876. Simon Draper was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1876 at Camp on Pecos River.
One of the later entries was in January 1891. George Draper was a Private in the U.S. Tenth 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 Draper was for Nathaniel Draper from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in August 27 1860 at Philadelphia when he was aged 21.
The record shows that Nathaniel was assigned on April 1 1863 to the ship Onward.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Barber. 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 New Bedford in October 8 1861. James was aged 31 and was from Sag Harbor, New York.
He was assigned to the ship Midnight on March 31 1863.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Sailor. His naval rank was Seaman.
A seaman in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.