The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 87,888 black Americans with Hall as their last name. That represented 22% of the total of 407,076 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Hall in the last three centuries.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
Hall 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 Hall 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 1,192 people named Hall who were recorded as black in the 1850 census. 488 were recorded as mixed.
Because they are in the main federal census, we know that they were free citizens.
There was a total of 55,951 free citizens named Hall 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.
13,609 people named Hall were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 2,181 as mixed.
There was a total of 97,859 people with the name.
Hall 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 30,268 people named Hall as black within a total of 167,362 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 43,060 people named Hall as black within a total of 267,155.
Historic Black Figures With The Hall Surname
Here are some notable African American people in history with Hall as their last name.
- Born: 1730s
- From: New England
- Died: 1807
Born in the 1730s, Prince Hall attained his freedom in 1770. He owned a leather shop in Boston and was active as an abolitionist.
He submitted a petition to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1777 to demand emancipation.
Two years before, Hall had joined a freemasons lodge in Boston that had been formed by a British regiment stationed at Castle William Island. When the American Revolutionary War broke out, the lodge departed.
Hall founded a new freemason lodge for African Americans to assist and promote black trade and business. When his lodge wasn’t fully recognized by the Boston freemasons, he secured a charter from the Grand Lodge of England.
This charter established what was first called African Lodge #459 with Hall as the first Grand Master. The lodge is still active and is known as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge.
- Born: 1894
- From: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
- Died: 1982
Madie Hall was raised in North Carolina, the daughter of the only black doctor in the region. studying for a master’s in education at Columbia University when she met Alfred Xuma, a South African.
She married Xuma in Cape Town in 1940 and became an activist with the ANC.
She was a proponent for women’s involvement in the anti-apartheid movement and was the first president of the ANC Women’s League.
Madie isn’t the only black female activist from Winston-Salem to make her mark in politics. Hannah Atkins became Oklahoma’s Secretary of State after a long political career.
Other black Americans who had influence in Africa
John Wesley Gilbert established several schools in the Congo in the early twentieth century.
Andrew Foster was a deaf graduate from Alabama who established specialist schools for the deaf in fourteen African countries in the 1950s.
Hall In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research.
Here are examples of the Hall surname from three different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Hall was in 1867.
Lewis Hall was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in 1914. James Hall was a Private in the Ninth 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 don’t 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 Hall was for Edward Hall from Fredericksburgh, Virginia. He enlisted in 1861 aged 29.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Carpenter. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted in 1863. John was aged 35 and was from Greensboro, Georgia.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Blacksmith. His naval rank was Seaman.
A seaman in the Navy is a sailor who is not an officer.
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. The photograph above shows a class in session.
They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.
Charles Hall graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in 1942. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Charles was from Brazil, Indiana.
His combat credits said: Downed 1 Fw-190 on July 2, 1943; Downed 1 Fw-190 and 1 Me-109 on January 28, 1944.
James Hall came from Washington, D.C.. He trained as a fighter pilot and graduated in 1944.
His combat credits said: Downed 1 Me-109 on March 31, 1945
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.