Dunn As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 20,351 black Americans with Dunn as their last name. That represented 14% of the total of 141,427 entries.

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

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.

2,710 people named Dunn were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 318 as mixed.

There was a total of 35,223 people with the name.

Dunn 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 5,061 people with the last name Dunn as black within a total of 55,071 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 7,861 people named Dunn as black within a total of 82,849.

Historic Black Figures With The Dunn Surname

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

Oscar Dunn

  • Born: 1826
  • From: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Died: 1871

Oscar Dunn’s father bought his family out of slavery in 1832 when Oscar was six years old. Oscar was a talented violinist who worked as a plasterer.

He joined the Republican Party in 1863 and worked hard to register black voters. He became an investigating agent for the Freedmen’s Bureau and was prominent in promoting education for black children in the region.

He became an Alderman in 1867 and was elected to the Senate the following year. He was later elected as Lieutenant Governor in 1871, the first black governer on the country.

Dunn In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Dunn surname from 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 Dunn was in June 1867. Washington W. Dunn was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Another entry was in August 1914. Percy Dunn was a Private in the U.S. Ninth 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.

William James Dunn

One of the earliest entries for Dunn was for William James Dunn from Philadelphia. He enlisted in September 1862 at Philadelphia when he was aged 18.

The record shows that William James was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Mohican.

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

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

Enolds Dunn

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Pittsburgh in August 1863. Enolds was aged 22.

He was assigned to the ship on June 1865.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Fieldhand. His naval rank was Seaman.

A seaman or “able seaman” in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.

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.

Charles Dunn graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in September 1943. He qualified as a Liaison pilot. Charles was from Dallas County, Alabama.