The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 19,820 black Americans with Jacobs as their last name. That represented 17% of the total of 118,614 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Jacobs.
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.
1,655 people named Jacobs were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 599 as mixed.
There was a total of 19,435 people with the name.
Jacobs 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 3,882 people with the last name Jacobs as black within a total of 37,401 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 6,118 people named Jacobs as black within a total of 66,314.
Historic Black Figures With The Jacobs Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Jacobs as their last name.
- Born: About 1813
- From: Edenton, North Carolina
- Died: 1897
Harriet Jacobs and her brother were born into slavery. Their uncle was caught after attempting to escape and paraded in chains through Edenton. He later escaped permanently, and his memory was inspiring for the young Harriet.
Harriet suffered years of sexual harassment from her owner while also having children with a wealthy white lawyer, Samuel Sawyer. She escaped in 1835 and hid for seven years in the garret of her grandmother’s house (her grandmother had purchased her own freedom).
Her owner spitefully sold Harriet’s two children and brother. But Harriet had arranged that Samuel Sawyer would buy the trio and let them live with her in her grandmother’s house.
Harriet was helped escape to New York by abolitionists in 1842. She worked for years as a nanny and was joined by her son and daughter.
She wrote an account of her life titled “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, which was a notable contribution to abolitionist literature.
Other Slave Narratives
The account of Harriet’s life is considered to be part of the genre of slave narratives. Here are some more:
Sarah Jacobs Goode
- Born: 1855
- From: Toledo, Ohio
- Died: 1905
Sarah Jacobs was born in 1855 but her family moved to Chicago in her teens. She married Archibald Goode and the couple opened a furniture store.
Her Chicago customers lived in small apartments and had difficulty finding beds that would fit their homes. Sarah invented a folding bed that folded into a roll-top desk.
She was one of the first African Americans to receive a patent when it was awarded in 1885. A science academy was opened in her name in South Chicago in 2012.
Jacobs In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Jacobs surname from military service.
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 Jacobs was in February 1867. Henry Jacobs was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in February 1867 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in August 1912. Frank Jacobs was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry.
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 Jacobs was for Charles Jacobs from Burlington, New Hampshire. He enlisted in January 21 1862 at Boston when he was aged 29.
The record shows that Charles was assigned on January 1 1900 to the ship .
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.