The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 200,941 black Americans with Moore as their last name. That represented 28% of the total of 724,374 entries.
This article compares census numbers before and after the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Moore in the last three centuries.
We end with a review of early records of black military service in the United States.
Moore 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 Moore 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 1,574 people named Moore who were recorded as black in the 1850 census. 550 were recorded as mixed.
Because they are in the main federal census, we know that they were free citizens.
There was a total of 66,344 free citizens named Moore 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.
21,214 people named Moore were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 2,889 as mixed.
There was a total of 126,310 people with the name.
Moore 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 46,342 people with the last name Moore as black within a total of 224,781 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 77,160 people named Moore as black within a total of 386,949.
Historic Black Figures With The Moore Surname
Here are some notable African American people in history with Moore as their last name.
- Born: 1905
- From: Suwannee County, Florida
- Died: 1951
Harry Moore and his wife Harriet lost their teaching jobs due to their strong activism in the 1930s. They lost their lives in 1951 when their home was bombed.
The couple had founded a local chapter of the NAACP in 1934, and Harry was elected as secretary of the Florida organization. He was prominent in voter registration drives and advocating for equal pay for black teachers. He also campaigned for investigations into local lynchings.
Moore led a campaign in 1949 against the questionable conviction of four young black men in Groveland, Florida. Thurgood Marshall won an appeal for two of the men, and a new trial was scheduled.
The county Sheriff shot the defendants in his custody (he claimed they tried to escape).
Moore called for the Sheriff’s indictment. Six weeks later, the Moore home was bombed. To date, no perpetrator has been brought to justice.
Cases of Thurgood Marshall
The renowned civil rights lawyer Thurgood Marshall worked on many important legal challenges against discrimination.
He worked with notable black activists including:
- Born: 1960
- From: Fort Bend County, Texas
- Died: 2020
Reginald Moore worked as a prison guard at a Fort Bend County prison. As a self-taught local historian, he uncovered evidence that prison laborers who worked on sugar plantations in the late 19th century were buried in unmarked graves.
Local officials ignored Moore until the remains of ninety-five African Americans were uncovered in 2018. They became known as the Sugar Land 95.
Moore continued to advocate for the importance of education about local African American history until his untimely death at the age of sixty.
The story of the Sugar Land burials may not be over. Recent research suggests there may be more victims of the convict-leasing program buried in the area.
Moore In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Moore surname from three different military services:
- Black civil war sailors
- Buffalo soldiers
- Tuskegee airmen
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 Moore was for Peter Moore from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in November 1861 at Newport News when he was aged 31.
The record shows that Peter was assigned on January 1864 to the ship Conemaugh.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Philadelphia in December 1861. Richard was aged 29 and was from Philadelphia, Pennsyvlania.
He was assigned to the ship Richmond on March 1865.
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.
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 Moore was in May 1867. Columbus Moore was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in May 1867 at Fort Gibson, Connecticut.
One of the later entries was in November 1914. Henry Moore was a Cook in the Ninth 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.
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. The photograph above (from the Library of Congress) shows a class in session.
They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.
Theopolis Moore graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in June 1943. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Theopolis was from St. Louis, Missouri.
Flarzell Moore came from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated in December 1944 as a bomber pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.