Givens As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 11,062 black Americans with Givens as their last name. That represented 44% of the total of 25,067 entries.

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

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.

914 people named Givens were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 152 as mixed.

There was a total of 3,221 people with the name.

Givens 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 2,168 people with the last name Givens as black within a total of 5,777 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 3,278 people named Givens as black within a total of 10,416.

Historic Black Figures With The Givens Surname

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

Archie Givens

  • Born: 1919
  • From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Died: 1973

Although he lost both parents by the time he was fourteen, Archie Givens was driven to make a living for himself. His first business was an ice cream parlour.

With his wife Phebe, he established several nursing homes. They were the first to be integrated in the state.

He expanded into housing and grew a thriving building company. Archie became Minnesota’s first African American millionaire.

Givens In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Givens surname from military service.

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 Givens was in June 1872. Jacob Givens was a Private in the United States Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in June 1872 at Camp Supply, Indian Territory.

Another entry was in June 1916. William Givens was a Private in the United States Tenth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

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 A. Givens

One of the earliest entries for Givens was for William A. Givens from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in December 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 24.

The record shows that William A. was assigned on June 1864 to the ship Galatea.

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

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

Givens 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 Employment records for Givens in the archives. Here are some of the first names:

  • Abraham
  • Cassandra
  • Linda
  • Wesley