Goodman As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 11,577 black Americans with Goodman as their last name. That represented 16% of the total of 73,136 entries.

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

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.

1,305 people named Goodman were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 187 as mixed.

There was a total of 10,508 people with the name.

Goodman 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 2,648 people with the last name Goodman as black within a total of 22,341 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 4,474 people named Goodman as black within a total of 45,477.

Historic Black Figures With The Goodman Surname

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

Robert Goodman

  • Born: 1956

Robert Goodman was a bombardier-navigator in the U.S. Navy. This rank is given to non-piloting officers in a bomber crew. They set the route and are responsible for weapons hitting their target.

His plane was shot down over Syria in 1983 and Goodman was captured injured but alive. The Reagan Administration made no headway in negotiating his release.

Many saw this failure as a lack of interest in a black prisoner of war. The Reverend Jesse Jackson travelled to Syria and secured Goodman’s freedom.

Goodman In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Goodman 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 Goodman was in August 1875. Martin Goodman was a Veterinary Surgeon in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1875 at Fort Concho, Texas.

Another entry was in April 1910. Isaac Goodman was a Private in the U.S. Ninth 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.

Edwin M. Goodman

One of the earliest entries for Goodman was for Edwin M. Goodman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in June 1861 at Boston when he was aged 31.

The record shows that Edwin was assigned on October 1864 to the ship Metacomet.

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.