The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 37,678 black Americans with Simpson as their last name. That represented 23% of the total of 163,181 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Simpson.
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 onwards, all black Americans were included.
4,561 people named Simpson were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 828 as mixed.
There was a total of 30,649 people with the name.
Simpson 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 9,798 people with the last name Simpson as black within a total of 55,144 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 14,162 people named Simpson as black within a total of 88,766.
Historic Black Figures With The Simpson Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Simpson as their last name.
- Born: 1940
- From: Chicago, Illinois
Carole Simpson earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan and later completed her master’s degree at the University of Iowa. She began her career in journalism in the 1960s.
Simpson worked at various radio and television stations before joining NBC News in 1974. She became the first African American woman to anchor a major network newscast.
She moved to ABC News in 1982, where she served as a national correspondent, weekend news anchor, and later the Sunday anchor for “World News Tonight.”
In 1992, she made history as the first woman and first African American to moderate a presidential debate, which featured candidates George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot.
After retiring from ABC News in 2006, she became a leader-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston, where she taught journalism and mentored students.
Her accolades include three Emmy Awards. She was also given a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 2005. Gary Howard was inducted into their Hall Of Fame in the same session.
Here are some other members of the NABJ’s Hall Of Fame:
Georgiana Rose Simpson
- Born: 1865
- From: Washington D.C.
- Died: 1944
Georgiana Rose Simpson attended public school in Washington D.C. and started teaching in 1885. She taught the children of German immigrant families which led to her studying for a B.A. in German at the University of Chicago.
She graduated in 1911 despite discrimination and protests that stopped her from staying in college dormitories. Simpson taught at high schools while continuing her research in German literature.
She was awarded a PhD in 1921, which makes her one of the first African American women to receive this achievement.
Simpson In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Simpson surname from three 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 Simpson was in October 1867. John T Simpson was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in October 1867 at Columbus, Ohio.
One of the later entries was in June 1915. Samuel E Simpson was a Private in the 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 Simpson was for Henry Simpson from Old Point, Virginia. He enlisted in December 1863 at Norfolk when he was aged 27.
The record shows that Henry was assigned on October 1864 to the ship St Lawrence.
His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.
William H. Simpson
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at New York in December 1863. William H. was aged 28 and was from New Brunswick, New Jersey.
He was assigned to the ship Glaucus on April 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Barber. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
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.
Jesse Simpson graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in August 1944. He qualified as a bomber pilot. Jesse was from Fresno, California.