This article reviews whether Leroy is a typically African American first name.
I used census records from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to see how historically popular the name was in black communities.
The more recent censuses don’t publish full names for privacy reasons. So, I had to look for alternative sources to evaluate the popularity within the last twenty years.
The short answer is that Leroy has become a typically African American name in recent years. However, it wasn’t a popular choice for black parents historically.
Was Leroy A Black Name In The 19th And Early 20th Century?
To review whether Leroy was common amongst African Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries, I looked at three federal censuses.
The 1870 federal census was the first after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. This was the first census that recorded all African Americans.
There were 8,622 residents in America named Leroy in the 1870 census.
The 1870 census takers marked residents as either white, black, or mixed.
When I’m researching African Americans in the 1870 census, I always include the latter two categories. The census takers were not always correct in how they categorized non-white residents.
There were 797 residents recorded as black and 132 as mixed. The exclusively black proportion was about 9% and the two categories together came to 11%.
By the turn of the century, the total number had grown to over forty-two thousand people (42,488 to be exact).
The mixed category was dropped in this census. The black percentage was about ten percent.
By 1940, the total number had jumped to over 176 thousand people (176,696).
The number of black residents was nearly 36 thousand people (35,771). This represented twenty percent.
So, the black percentage doubled in the period from 1900 to 1940.
My conclusion is that Leroy was not a common name amongst African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, it grew significantly in popularity towards the mid-20th century.
Leroy In The 1960s and Early 1970s
A research study used mortgage applications from 2007 to identify the breakdown of first names by ethnicity.
We can guess that most of the applicants were aged from thirty to fifty. So, the numbers represent people born in the 1960s and early 1970s.
There were 621 people named Leroy who applied for a mortgage. This was the ethnic breakdown:
- White: 69%
- Black: 25%
- Hispanic: 4%
Compared to the historic census numbers in the previous section, the black percentage was a little higher.
However, it was still only one-quarter of the total.
Is Leroy A Typically African American First Name Currently?
Several online archives have collected thousands of high school yearbooks from the early 1900s up to 2016.
I used Ancestry.com for my research. First, I ran name searches on three southern states with a significant black population:
I used different time frames between 2001 and 2016. I wanted to get at least fifteen students with the name. That meant I had to use different starting points for different states.
The table below is the summary of my review.
The column headed “Leroy” was the total number of students with the name that I found across the schools with uploaded yearbooks.
Leroy was an exclusively male name in these search results.
There was one Asian student and one white student named Leroy in the Georgia results.
As you can see, the name Leroy was far more likely to belong to African American students in these three states.
My conclusion is that Leroy has become a typically African American first name in recent years.
What about New Hampshire?
To balance this survey, I also looked at a state with a low black population.
I searched the New Hampshire yearbooks from 2001 to 2016 for anyone named Leroy.
There were two teachers (white) with the name in the search results. But no students turned up!
Why were there so few schools in this survey?
Of course, there are more than seventeen schools in Louisiana (there are 558 to be exact).
But many schools don’t have yearbooks available online.
The second column in the table shows the number of schools that came up in the results when I searched for the name Leroy.
It’s also possible that a school has a yearbook online but has nobody by the name of Leroy. That means the school doesn’t get counted in this survey.
The challenge of using high school photos
If you’ve looked at historic census records in the U.S., you’ll know that ethnicity is one of the questions that people are asked.
This means that the census archives can be searched by ethnicity as well as specific names. However, I could only search the high school yearbooks by student names and school locations.
So, how did I identify African Americans from people of other heritage?
Well, the recent high school yearbooks have photographs of the students. I did it by eye.
I’m not going to be right with every pick. So, treat these numbers as an estimate.
If you’re looking for analysis of a similar name, check out our review of whether Leon is a typically African American first name.