Howard As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 78,097 black Americans with Howard as their last name. That represented 29% of the total of 264,826 entries.

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

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.

9,225 people named Howard were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 1,538 as mixed.

There was a total of 49,164 people with the name.

Howard 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 21,405 people with the last name Howard as black within a total of 84,890 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 30,761 people named Howard as black within a total of 137,680.

Historic Black Figures With The Howard Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Howard as their last name.

Leon Howard

  • Born: 1849
  • From: Marshall County, Mississippi
  • Died: 1912

Leon Howard’s family moved to Memphis when he was a young man. He worked there as a porter during the 1870s and sometimes as a cook.

Howard ran for election to the 43rd General Assembly for the Republican Party in Shelby County in 1882.

There were three other African Americans on the ballot in a breakaway group who threw in their lot with the Democrats. But Howard was the only black candidate in Shelby to secure his seat as an Assemblyman.

Howard actively worked against the Jim Crow laws by introducing bills to repeal various sections. Like other black legislators who did similar, his attempts were derailed by the committee system.

However, this vital work was the start of future progress.

Other early Tennessee Assemblymen include Greene Evans (elected in 1884).

Garry Howard

  • Born: 1959
  • From: Pennsylvania

Garry Howard graduated from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. His entry into journalism was as a sports reporter for the Trenton Times.

He then joined the Philadelphia Inquirer as a reporter. Howard moved up the ranks to copy editor and then to deputy sports editor.

Gaining the title of deputy editor was rare enough for an African American. But Howard went further when he joined the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee in 1994.

He won promotion to be the sports editor, and didn’t stop there. He later became editor-in-chief of The Sporting News in 2010.

Garry Howard was inducted in the National Association Of Black Journalists’ Hall Of Fame in 2019.

Vince Sanders is another notable member from sports journalism.

Howard In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Howard surname from three 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 Howard was in July 1867. James Howard was a Corporal in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in July 1867 at Fort Hasker.

One of the later entries was in May 1914. Albert Howard was a Sergeant in an Army band (regiment had their own bands).

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.

Daniel Howard

One of the earliest entries for Howard was for Daniel Howard from Baltimore, Maryland. He enlisted in October 1861 at Washington when he was aged 19.

The record shows that Daniel was assigned on March 1864 to the ship Hetzel.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Porter/Laborer. His naval rank was Landsman.

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

Anthony Howard

One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in February 1865. Anthony was aged 25 and was from New York.

He was assigned to the ship Lenapee on October 1867.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Sailor. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.

An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.

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. 352 fought in combat.

Fred Howard graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in October 1943. He qualified as a Liaison pilot. Fred was from Chicago, Illinois.