I was surprised to hear people saying that Trevor is a typically African American name.
So, I decided to take a look at the numbers. Researching first names is a challenge because the Social Security Administration doesn’t include ethnicity in their annual lists of baby names.
But I found some other sources to help assess whether Trevor is a popular choice for black parents in the United States.
Is Trevor An 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 2006 and 2016. I wanted to get at least twenty students with the name, and that took different starting points for different states.
The table below is the summary of my review.
The column headed “Trevor” was the total number of students with the name that I found across the schools with uploaded yearbooks.
There was one female student in Louisiana with the name. That could have been a mislabelled photograph.
Two students in Louisiana were Hispanic.
As you can see, Trevor is predominantly a white name in these states.
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 2006 to 2016 for anyone named Trevor.
Out of the twenty-one students in the search results, none were African American.
Why were there so few schools in this survey?
Of course, there are more than nine 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 Trevor.
It’s also possible that a school has a yearbook online but has nobody by the name of Trevor. 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.
Trevor Was A Typically White First Name 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 667 people named Trevor who applied for a mortgage. This was the ethnic breakdown:
- White: 92%
- Black: 6%
- Hispanic: 1%
- Asian & Pacific Islands: 1%
As you can see, the black proportion was quite small. It was under half of the lowest percentage of the school yearbooks we looked at from recent years.
I conclude that Trevor was not a typically African American name in the 1960s and 1970s.
Was Trevor A Black Name In The 19th And Early 20th Century?
To review whether Trevor was a common black first name in the 19th and early 20th centuries, I looked at several federal censuses.
The 1870 federal census was taken after the emancipation of slaves. This was the first census that counted all African Americans.
There were only twenty-four people named Trevor in the 1870 census. That makes it a rare name.
The census takers marked two residents as black. They also marked one as mixed (or “mulatto”).
When I’m researching African Americans in the 1870 census, I always include these two categories. The census takers were not always correct in how they categorized non-white residents.
Regardless, we can say that the black percentage was somewhere from 8% to 13% of a small number.
The mixed category was dropped in the 1900 census. By then, the total number of Trevors had grown to 227. Only five were black, which represents a tiny 2%.
The black percentage was at 3% in the 1940 census. That was out of a total of 876 people.
My conclusion is that Trevor was a rare first name amongst African Americans in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
We also looked at whether Terrell is a typically black first name. That’s another “T” name.
But Trevor reminds me of some other names in that many people would immediately assume were not African American. Check out these reviews:
The numbers may surprise you.