The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 33,467 black Americans with Greene as their last name. That represented 27% of the total of 126,101 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Greene.
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.
1,499 people named Greene were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 143 as mixed.
There was a total of 7,708 people with the name.
Greene 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 3,544 people with the last name Greene as black within a total of 18,447 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 7,784 people named Greene as black within a total of 47,022.
Historic Black Figures With The Greene Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Greene as their last name.
Beverly Lorraine Greene
- Born: 1915
- From: Chicago, Illinois
- Died: 1957
Beverly Lorraine Greene graduated with a degree in architectural engineering from the University of Illinois in 1936. She spent a year working for Kenneth Roderick O’Neal, a young black architect who opened a practice in downtown Chicago.
She joined the Housing Authority in 1938. Greene was the first black woman to be licensed as an architect in Illinois, but she found it difficult to get work in Chicago. She won a scholarship for a Master’s at Columbia University.
Greene went on to work on several major building projects. Her contributions include:
- the Arts building at Sarah Lawrence College
- the University Heights complex for New York University
- the UNESCO building in Paris
- Born: 1941
- From: Washington D.C.
- Died: 2008
Gwendolyn Greene attended Howard University where she got involved in non-violent activism. She was arrested with other students at a sit-in on the carousel of a segregated amusement park in Maryland in June 1960.
Greene was one of five students who took the case for desegregating the amusement park to the Supreme Court. The Court eventually ruled in their favor. Meanwhile, Gwen joined the Freedom Riders in 1961.
The Freedom Riders were civil rights activists who rode on segregated buses in the South from 1961. They sat in mixed groups to challenge seating segregation.
If they weren’t arrested on the bus, they would disembark and sit in segregated cafes and terminals. Gwen was jailed for 45 days in Mississippi for sitting in a whites-only section of a train station.
She married fellow activist Travis Britt in 1962. She was active in voter registration in Mississippi and went on to work in management through the 1980s and 1990s.
Gwendolyn Green Britt was elected to the Maryland Senate in 2003 and died in office (from a heart attack) in 2008.
Greene In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Greene surname from military service.
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 Greene was in August 1884. Frank H. Greene was a Sergeant in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1884 at Pena Colorado, Tecas.
One of the later entries was in December 1914. Arthur E. Greene was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.
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.
One of the earliest entries for Greene was for Jacob Greene from New Orleans, Louisiana. He enlisted in June 1862 at New Orleans when he was aged 27.
The record shows that Jacob was assigned on June 1862 to the ship Arthur.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cooper. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Port Royal in July 1863. Dennis was aged .
He was assigned to the ship John Adams on October 1863.
His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
Greene 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 1,140 records for Greene in the archives. Here are some of the first names: