The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 23,190 black Americans with Fuller as their last name. That represented 21% of the total of 110,116 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Fuller in the last three centuries.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
Fuller Before The Civil War
The 1850 census was the first to record all free members of households together. Before this, people who were not white were not named in the federal census.
In 1850, there was a box to enter color on the census. There were three categories: white, black, and mulatto. The third term is the language of the time, and I will use mixed in this article.
If you are researching your black Fuller ancestors in census archives, be sure to check the two non-white categories. Do not assume that the people recording the information were always correct.
1850 Federal Census
There were 210 people named Fuller who were recorded as black in the 1850 census. 52 were recorded as mixed.
Because they are in the main federal census, we know that they were free citizens.
There was a total of 19,268 free citizens named Fuller that year. There would be one more census in 1860 before the Civil War.
After The Civil War
The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. All African Americans were included.
Those who were omitted in 1850 and 1860 because they were enslaved were now recorded.
2,477 people named Fuller were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 333 as mixed.
There was a total of 28,400 people with the name.
Fuller In The 1900 And 1940 Census
The mixed category was dropped in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.
The 1900 census recorded 5,840 people with the last name Fuller as black within a total of 42,599 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 9,285 people named Fuller as black within a total of 62,303.
Historic Black Figures With The Fuller Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Fuller as their last name.
- Born: 1872
- From: Monrovia, Liberia
- Died: 1953
Solomon Carter Fuller was born in Liberia as a descendant of African Americans. His maternal grandparents were missionary doctors, and his mother ran the local school.
Solomon came to the U.S. to study medicine and qualified as a doctor in Boston in 1897.
He later studied neuroscience in Germany. He worked with Alois Alzheimer in Munich to research the brains of patients with what we now know as dementia.
When he returned to Westborough Hospital in Massachusetts, he continued studying people who died with impaired brain activity.
His contribution to research into Alzheimer’s Disease had been long overlooked, but this has been more recently rectified.
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller
- Born: 1877
- From: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Died: 1968
Meta Vaux Warrick’s parents were relatively well-to-do in Philadelphia. Her father owned barber shops and her mother owned a beauty salon that catered to wealthy white women.
They encouraged their daughters to study art and sculpture.
Meta graduated from art college in 1898 and focused on sculpture. Her work was influenced by horror stories related with gusto in her family home.
When she went to study in Paris, she became a student of Auguste Rodin in 1902. She also met WEB Du Bois who encouraged her to use African American themes. Her works were widely exhibited in Paris.
She returned to the U.S. in 1903 where the arts scene was far less open to a black woman. However, her talent was undeniable, and she received several commissions.
The sculpture, Ethiopia, shown below is one of well-known works.
You can see more of her works in this online gallery from Danforth Art.
Meta married Solomon Fuller in 1907 and settled in Massachusetts. Her exhibited works in the 1920s had considerable African influence.
She became part of the Harlem Renaissance, and not just because of her sculptures. Fuller also was heavily involved in theatre design and direction.
The Harlem Renaissance after the First World War was a period when African American art, literature, and music flourished around Harlem.
Painters, poets, writers, and musicians established a creative hub of black culture in the United States. The movement was hugely influential on the development of black literature and art through the twentieth century and today.
Fuller In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Fuller surname from several different military services.
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 Fuller was in 1868. Richard Fuller was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in 1868 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in 1915. Robert J Fuller was a Private 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.
Joseph H. Fuller
One of the earliest entries for Fuller was for Joseph H. Fuller from New York City. He enlisted in 1862 at New London when he was twenty-three years old.
The record shows that Joseph was mustered on September 1863 to the ship Stars and Stripes.
His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Hampton Roads in December 1863. Stephen Fuller was twenty-six years of age and was from Norfolk, Virginia.
He was mustered to the ship Roman on July 1865.
His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was usually the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.