Goodwin As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 12,476 black Americans with Goodwin as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 72,451 entries.

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

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.

2,050 people named Goodwin were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 280 as mixed.

There was a total of 17,340 people with the name.

Goodwin 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 3,576 people with the last name Goodwin as black within a total of 26,827 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 4,662 people named Goodwin as black within a total of 40,671.

Historic Black Figures With The Goodwin Surname

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

Reginald Goodwin

  • Born: 1907
  • From: Washington D.C.
  • Died: 1974

Reginal Goodwin was one of the first thirteen African Americans who were commissioned as officers in the U.S. Navay. The men, known in military history as the Golden Thirteen, gained their commissions on the 17th of March 1944.

Reginald graduated from Howard University and worked as a physical director and leader at boys clubs. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in his mid-thirties and progressed to Yeoman Third Class by 1942. Two years later, he was commissioned as an ensign.

He served at the U.S. Naval Base in Saipan. When the second world war ended, he spent another ten years in the Naval Reserve. During that time, he studied law.

When he left the navy, Goodwin opened a legal practice in Chicago and spent twenty years as an attorney.

Goodwin In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Goodwin 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 Goodwin was in August 1867. Alfred Goodwin was a Recruit in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Fort Riley, Kansas and Philadelphia.

Another entry was in March 1911. Willie Goodwin 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.

John H. Goodwin

One of the earliest entries for Goodwin was for John H. Goodwin from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in June 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 21.

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

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

Joseph Goodwin

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Boston in May 1864. Joseph was aged 23 and was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was assigned to the ship Azalia on April 1865. His naval rank at the time 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. Three hundred and fifty-two fought in combat.

Luther Goodwin graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in September 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Luther was from Bakersfield, California.