The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 37,973 black Americans with Reid as their last name. That represented 34% of the total of 111,360 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Reid.
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.
2,843 people named Reid were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 453 as mixed.
There was a total of 12,327 people with the name.
Reid 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 5,547 people with the last name Reid as black within a total of 27,740 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 9,654 people named Reid as black within a total of 52,110.
Historic Black Figures With The Reid Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Reid as their last name.
Ira De Augustine Reid
- Born: 1901
- From: Clifton Forge, Virginia
- Died: 1968
Ira Reid was the son of a Baptist Minister and grew up in Philadelphia where he attended integrated schools. He did his B.A. at Morehouse College, a Masters at the University of Pittsburgh, and received a PhD from Columbia University.
W.E.B. Du Bois appointed him as professor of sociology at Atlanta University in 1934. He then taught for a year at New York University, breaking the color barrier. He became the first African American professor at Haverford College where he taught for twenty-two years.
Reid produced seminal research in sociology and education amongst urban black communities. His work put him under suspicion of the McCarthy era witch hunts. His passport was revoked in the 1950s until he successfully fought for his right to travel.
Other Notable African American Sociologists
Here are some other sociologists that produced important work in the field of sociology:
Inez Smith Reid
- Born: 1937
- From: New Orleans
Inez Smith Reid’s father was a pastor and her mother was a teacher. She grew up in Washington D.C. (segregated at that time) and graduated from Howard University and Tufts University.
She and her twin brother George were inspired by Thurgood Marshall’s legal fight against segregated schools which he won in 1958. They went to Yale Law School where they were the only two African Americans in their class. The twins spent college summers working for the NAACP legal defense fund.
Reid found it difficult to get work with white law firms and started teaching at a variety of colleges. Having spent time in the Congo, she taught African Studies as well as political science and law. In 1977, President Carter appointed her as legal counsel to several government agencies.
When President Reagan dismissed Carter’s appointees, Reid spent some years in private legal practice. President Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Court of Appeals in 1995 where she was sworn in by her twin, Judge George Bundy Smith.
She went on to become a senior judge before retiring in 2017. Judge Reid’s early mentors included the first black female federal judge, Constance Baker Motley. She wrote a paper about another mentor, Judge Julia Cooper Mack.
Reid In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Reid surname from 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 Reid was in September 1868. Henry Reid was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1868 at Fort Wallace, Kansas.
One of the later entries was in June 1914. Augustus Reid was a Sergeant in the U.S. Ninth 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 Reid was for Thomas Reid from Northampton County, Virginia. He enlisted in March 10 1863 at Philadelphia when he was aged 35.
The record shows that Thomas was assigned on April 1 1865 to the ship Arizona.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Steward/Cook. 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 Yorktown in May 17 1864. Ned was aged 20 and was from Gloucester County, Virginia.
He was assigned to the ship Mystic on March 31 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. 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.
Maury Reid graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Maury was from New York, New York.