The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 37,007 black Americans with Hudson as their last name. That represented 27% of the total of 134,963 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Hudson in the last three centuries.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
Hudson 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 Hudson 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 276 people named Hudson who were recorded as black in the 1850 census. 44 were recorded as mixed.
Because they are in the main federal census, we know that they were free citizens.
There was a total of 12,034 free citizens named Hudson 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.
3,334 people named Hudson were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 389 as mixed.
There was a total of 21,325 people with the name.
Hudson 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 8,071 people with the last name Hudson as black within a total of 40,629 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 13,818 people named Hudson as black within a total of 71,521.
Historic Black Figures With The Hudson Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Hudson as their last name.
- Born: 1834
- From: Maryland
The Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses and travel routes organized by many church and community leaders, civil rights activists, and abolitionists. Thousands of enslaved people were helped to escape from the South.
William Still kept substantial notes on fugitives who were helped on their way through Philadelphia. He published the notes in a book in 1872.
Ephraim Hudson was one of a group of five friends who escaped together from the eastern shore of Maryland.
The five were helped on their way to Canada by at least two conductors on the railroad. The first was Thomas Garrett, an abolitionist Quaker. The second was William Still who received a letter from Garrett to expect their arrival in Philadelphia.
You can read the full account in this except of five fugitives from the eastern shore on the underground railroad.
- Born: 1898
- From: Wilkes County, Georgia
- Died: 1988
Hosea Hudson worked in a steel mill and was a union rep in the 1930s. He joined the Communist Party and was a strong activist for workers’ rights for African Americans. He was jailed for his activities.
Hudson established the Right To Vote Club in Alabama in 1938. The organization encouraged black voter registration.
After the Second World War, there was a rise in fear of communism in America. Hudson lost his job and was blacklisted. He couldn’t even work in the political organization that he had founded.
Many black activists in that era had been educated and informed by the American Communist Party. The celebrated author Richard Wright had also been a member.
- Born: 1932
- From: Detroit, Michigan
- Died: 2010
Bill Hudson was an army photographer during the Korean War. When he left the army, he worked as a press photographer for several local newspapers. He joined the Associated Press in 1962.
Hudson covered the Civil Rights movements in the 1960s despite physical threats from angry mobs.
He took an iconic photo in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. He captured a black teenager being attacked by two police officers with Alsatians.
The New York Times published the photo on the front page and it was shown around the world. It sparked outrage on behalf of the movement.
Hudson In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Hudson 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 Hudson was in 1872. George Hudson was a Private in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in 1872 at Fort Gibson, Connecticut.
One of the later entries was in 1905. Harvey Hudson was a Blacksmith in the Tenth 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 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 Hudson was for Sheppard Hudson from Lewes, Delaware. He enlisted in 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 24.
The record shows that Sheppard was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Keystone State.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. 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 at Montezuma Bar in 1864. John was aged 38 and was from Carroll County, Missisippi.
He was assigned to the ship Gazelle on January 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Shoemaker. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
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.
Elbert Hudson graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in March 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Elbert was from Los Angeles, California.
Lincoln Hudson came from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated in June 1944 as a fighter pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.