The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 62,631 black Americans with Woods as their last name. That represented 35% of the total of 177,425 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Woods.
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.
4,499 people named Woods were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 838 as mixed.
There was a total of 27,534 people with the name.
Woods 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 12,490 people with the last name Woods as black within a total of 52,714 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 22,187 people named Woods as black within a total of 94,932.
Historic Black Figures With The Woods Surname
Here is one notable African American in history with Woods as last name.
- Born: 1856
- From: Columbus, Ohio
- Died: 1910
Granville Woods left school at the age of ten to work in a machine shop. He became a fireman in 1872 and studied engineering in the late 1870s. He worked as a mechanical and electrical engineer on steamer, streetcar, and train construction.
Woods was a prolific inventor with over fifty patents in his lifetime. The articulate and urbane engineer developed a high profile and was often covered in black newspapers as a great inventor.
However, he often had to fight others for credit for his work. His competitors included Thomas Edison, although Woods won that legal tussle.
Wider recognition came after his death. Woods is a member of the National Inventors Hall Of Fame, and has a scholarship and street corner named after him.8
Other black inventors
These are some other early inventors:
Woods In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Woods 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 Woods was in August 1867. Noah Woods was a Sergeant in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1867 at Council Gove.
One of the later entries was in January 1914. Anthony G. C. Woods was a Private in the Tenth 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.
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 Woods was for Wilson Woods from Adams County, Mississippi. He enlisted in July 1863 at Red River when he was aged 26.
The record shows that Wilson was assigned on September 1863 to the ship Manitou.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Laborer. 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 Charleston in June 1864. Richard was aged 18 and was from Lexington, Kentucky.
He was assigned to the ship Gamage on July 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Farmer. His naval rank was Ordinary Seaman.
An ordinary seaman in the Navy is an apprentice who serves on the deck.
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.
Carl Woods graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in April 1944. He qualified as a fighter pilot. Carl was from Mars, Pennsylvania.
Carrol Woods came from Valdosta, Georgia. He graduated in August 1943 as a fighter pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.