The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 48,727 black Americans with Wallace as their last name. That represented 25% of the total of 197,276 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Wallace.
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.
5,873 people named Wallace were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 772 as mixed.
There was a total of 36,230 people with the name.
Wallace 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 11,424 people with the last name Wallace as black within a total of 62,880 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 18,353 people named Wallace as black within a total of 109,139.
Historic Black Figures With The Wallace Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Wallace as their last name.
Phyllis Ann Wallace
- Born: 1921
- From: Calvert County, Maryland
- Died: 1993
Phyllis Ann Wallace graduated first in her class from high school in 1939. She studied economics at New York University and graduated with distinction in 1939. She went on to get a PhD from Yale in 1948.
She studied the Soviet economy as a senior government economist in the 1950s before focusing on discrimination in the American workplace in the 1960s. Her work led to major change at AT&T in the early 1970s the largest employer in the U.S. at the time.
As well as teaching at Atlanta University, she became the first woman to gain tenure at the Sloan School at MIT.
- Born: 1967
- From: Nashville, Tennessee
- Died: 2017
Perry Wallace was a top student at high school as well as an All American athlete. He entered Vanderbilt University on a sports scholarship in 1966 and studied engineering.
In December 1967, Wallace played on the Vanderbilt basketball team in a varsity game. He was the first African American player in the Southeastern Conference. He faced hostile crowds throughout his college career.
After graduating, he studied law and became a trial attorney with a focus on environmental cases. He was appointed as professor at the Washington College of Law in 1996.
I don’t usually cover notable figures in sports or music on this website as those are the two areas where African Americans have often got their due recognition.
But Perry Wallace is here because of his legal and academic achievements. Cleveland Abbott was another outstanding athlete who also became an educator.
Wallace In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Wallace surname from several different military services.
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 Wallace was in August 1868. Joseph Wallace was a Private in the U.S. Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1868 at Fort Arbuckle, Indian Territory.
One of the later entries was in February 1914. Charles E Wallace 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 Wallace was for Ellis Wallace from Chester County, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in February 18 1861 at Philadelphia when he was aged 22.
The record shows that Ellis was assigned on September 30 1862 to the ship Pawnee.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Mariner. 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 Judge Torrence/Carolina Ldg. in January 6 1863. Owen was aged 25 and was from Issaquena County, Mississippi.
He was assigned to the ship Judge Torrence on July 31 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Fieldhand. His naval rank was 1st Class Boy.
“1st Class Boy” was the rank given to young men who enlisted when they were under eighteen.