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Sunday, May 24, 2015

50 Most Common African American Surnames (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (1992-2001)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post is a reprint of a page that was published on my cultural website cocojams.com. I retired that website in November 2014 after fourteen years online and have posted some content from that website on pancocojams and on other google blogs that I've started. Links to those blogs are included in my "about me" statement that is found to the right of pancocojams posts.

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In 2003 I requested information on surnames in Allegheny County from the Allegheny County Health Department. During that time, I was a member of that Department's Board of Directors. Upon receiving this information in 2003, I posted it for educational and research purposes in a section of my website that was devoted to names and nicknames. Unfortunately (and ironically), I can't find the name of the man who voluntarily compiled this material. Regardless, I thank him for his efforts.

I'm posting this information on this pancocojams page because it might be of interest to others, and because it might be beneficial to those engaged in research on the differences in surnames between African Americans and Non-African Americans within a given period of time.

The surnames listed here are those that were given to children born in Allegheny County during that period of time.

WHAT "AFRICAN AMERICAN" MEANS IN THIS DATA [revised November 4, 2015]
At the time that I requested data about surnames of babies born in Allegheny County, I had been the founder/director of an adoption program that focused on the recruitment and study of prospective parents for Black children. I also had conducted workshops in the child welfare field (adoption/foster care) on various topics pertaining to Black adoption. I have one biological daughter, one step daughter, two adoptive sons, and one foster son. I mention these roles to indicate that on a number of levels I was familar with the practice of child welfare agencies in the United States categorizing children as "biracial" when those children had one Black biological parent and one non-Black biological parent. Many Americans who were associated with adoption at the time (particulary many White people) considered (and may still consider) "biracial" to be a separate category from "Black" when it came to making placement decisions. I very much disagreed with that practice. Because I felt so strongly about that position, I definitely recall asking the compiler of this data on surnames to make sure that he included all children with one Black birth parent in the "African American" category.

It should also be noted that the referent "Black" was used interchangeably in the child welfare system for "African American", but "African American" was considered to be a more formal referent for the same population. However, since "Black" includes persons from various regions of Africa, and all persons from any part of the African Diaspora, "Black" actually is a much broader referent than "African American". Nevertheless, it's likely that the surnames of any infant (born during the period of time covered by this data) who had at least one Black birth parent was included in this date, even if that birth parent wasn't "African American".

For context purposes, 1990 and 2000 US Census demographical information for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (which includes Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is included below.

-snip-
Posted on Cocojams on March 8, 2011 by Ms. Azizi Powell, Founder/Editor
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Latest update [related links and excerpts] added - October 7, 2012

Introductory text slightly revised for the purpose of greater clarity - February 28, 2013

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50 MOST COMMON AFRICAN AMERICAN SURNAMES (Based on Births among Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Residents) During 1992-2001

Note: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the largest city in Allegheny County.

File: surnames

Rank/ Surname/ Birth Counts
1. Johnson (684)
2. Williams (620)
3. Jones (518)
4. Smith (507)
5. Brown (468)
6. Jackson (334)
7. Davis (301)
8. Thomas (296)
9. Robinson (259)
10. Harris (233)
11. Washington (197)
12. Wilson (190)
13. Taylor (187)
14. Green (175)
15. Thompson (169)
16. White (167)
17. Scott (162)
18. Walker (157)
19. Turner (155)
20. Moore (151)
21. Wright (144)
22. Mitchell (134)
23. Carter (132)
24. Lewis (125)
25. Hill (122)
26. King (112)
27. Lee (112)
28. Clark (108)
29. Howard (107)
30. Allen (106)
31. Martin (103)
32. Coleman (102)
33.Young (102)
34. Adams (98)
35. Anderson (94)
36. Freeman (94)
37. Miller (94)
38. Ford (93)
39. Morris (93)
40. Hall (91)
41. Butler (90)
42. Griffin (87)
43. Nelson (79)
44. Henderson (76)
45. James (74)
46. Brooks (73)
47. Parker (73)
48.Reed (73)
49. Bey (69)
50. Edwards (69)

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50 MOST COMMON NON-AFRICAN AMERICAN SURNAMES (Based on Births among Allegheny County Pennsylvania Residents During 1992-2001)

No file name provided

Rank/ Surname/ Birth Counts
1. Smith (806)
2.Miller (671)
3. Brown (357)
4. Williams (345)
5. Jones (329)
6. Johnson (294)
7. Davis (280)
8. Kelly (280)
9. Martin (252)
10. White (251)
11. Wilson (240)
12. Thomas (222)
13. Taylor (209)
14. Thompson (198)
15. Anderson (184)
16. Synder (180)
17. Lewis (176)
18. King (172)
19. Moore (170)
20. Scott (166)
21. Wagner (160)
23. Walker (154)
24. Stewart (149)
25. Young (149)
26 Clark (148)
26. Baker (145)
27. Evans (144)
28. Hoffman (142)
29. Murphy (141)
30. Sullivan (140)
31. Cook (139)
32. Adams (137)
33. Phillips (133)
34. Campbell (132)
35. Collins (131)
36. Harris (129)
37. Jackson (127)
38. Fisher (122)
39. Graham (122)
40. Hall (120)
41. Mitchell (117)
42. Lang (116)
43. Bell (115)
44. Wright (114)
45. Hill (111)
46. Walsh (111)
47. Schmidt (110)
48. Kennedy (109)
49. Morgan (106)*
50. Ross (106)

-snip-
Spelling revised Feb 21, 2016 from "Maorgan" to "Morgan". My apologies for that typo.

Demographical Information
As a means of providing some context to this data on surnames, I've provided excerpted data from Census reports for Allegheny County Pennsylvania for 1990 and 2000. These charts are best reviewed by clicking the hyperlinks that are provided.

Excerpt from DP-1. General Population and Housing Characteristics: 1990
Data Set: 1990 Summary Tape File 1 (STF 1) - 100-Percent data
Geographic Area: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=n&_lang=en&qr_name=DEC_1990_STF1_DP1&ds_name=DEC_1990_STF1_&geo_id=05000US42003

RACE AND HISPANIC ORIGIN

White
1,169,452

Black
149,550

American Indian, Eskimo, or Aleut
1,452

Asian or Pacific Islander
13,469

Other race
2,526


Hispanic origin (of any race)
8,731

Total housing units
580,738

-snip-

Excerpt from: DP-1. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000
Data Set: Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data
Geographic Area: Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/QTTable?_bm=n&_lang=en&qr_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U_DP1&ds_name=DEC_2000_SF1_U&geo_id=05000US42003


RACE

One race
1,267,901 Percentage -98.9

White
1,080,800 Percentage 84.3

Black or African American
159,058 Percentage 12.4

American Indian and Alaska Native
1,593 Percentage 0.1

Asian
21,716 Percentage 1.7

Asian Indian
7,487 0.6 Percentage

Chinese
5,903 Percentage 0.5

Filipino
1,189 Percentage 0.1

Japanese
1,143 Percentage 0.1

Korean
2,068 Percentage 0.2

Vietnamese
1,638 Percentage 0.1

Other Asian 1
2,288 0.2

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
335 Percentage 0.0

Native Hawaiian
88 Percentage 0.0

Guamanian or Chamorro
59 Percentage 0.0

Samoan
85 Percentage 0.0

Other Pacific Islander 2
103 Percentage 0.0

Some other race
4,399 Percentage 0.3

Two or more races
13,765 Percentage 1.1

Race alone or in combination with one or more other races 3

White
1,091,899 Percentage 85.2

Black or African American
166,731 Percentage 13.0

American Indian and Alaska Native
5,419 Percentage 0.4

Asian
24,722 Percentage 1.9

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
758 Percentage 0.1

Some other race
7,430 Percentage 0.6


HISPANIC OR LATINO AND RACE

Total population
1,281,666 Percentage 100.0

Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
11,166 Percentage 0.9

Mexican
3,568 Percentage 0.3

Puerto Rican
2,216 Percentage 0.2

Cuban
622 Percentage 0.0

Other Hispanic or Latino
4,760 Percentage 0.4

Not Hispanic or Latino
1,270,500 Percentage 99.1

White alone
1,074,129 Percentage 83.8

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RELATED LINKS & EXCERPTS
THE FIFTY MOST COMMON SURNAMES FOR BLACK PEOPLE IN THE USA
(Excerpt from a list of 1000 surnames from http://names.mongabay.com/data/black.html)

*Source: 2000 U.S. Census, Genealogy Data

Name Rank - Number of occurrences - Overall U.S. rank for all races
1 WILLIAMS 716704 3
2 JOHNSON 627720 2
3 SMITH 527993 1
4 JONES 514167 5
5 BROWN 476702 4
6 JACKSON 353179 18
7 DAVIS 329957 7
8 THOMAS 271273 14
9 HARRIS 247092 24
10 ROBINSON 221835 27
11 TAYLOR 199326 13
12 WILSON 198269 10
13 MOORE 188082 16
14 WHITE 175099 20
15 LEWIS 172509 26
16 WALKER 171297 28
17 GREEN 149803 37
18 WASHINGTON 146520 138
19 THOMPSON 145176 19
20 ANDERSON 137688 12
21 SCOTT 135521 36
22 CARTER 126856 46
23 WRIGHT 120484 34
24 MILLER 117404 6
25 HILL 117025 41
26 ALLEN 116491 32
27 MITCHELL 115815 44
28 YOUNG 110849 31
29 LEE 105480 22
30 MARTIN 102925 17
31 CLARK 101613 25
32 TURNER 98383 49
33 HALL 98265 30
34 KING 96665 35
35 EDWARDS 95787 53
36 COLEMAN 91440 102
37 JAMES 88835 80
38 EVANS 85730 48
39 BELL 84138 67
40 RICHARDSON 81772 74
41 ADAMS 79313 39
42 BROOKS 78653 77
43 PARKER 78111 51
44 JENKINS 76881 95
45 STEWART 74564 54
46 HOWARD 73096 70
47 CAMPBELL 71155 43
48 SIMMONS 71102 103
49 SANDERS 70468 88
50 HENDERSON 69751 101

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THE BLACKEST SURNAME IN THE USA
From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/21/washington-blackest-name-america_n_825884.html "Washington: The 'Blackest Name' In America" by Jesse Washington
"George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities – and people.

In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name ...

Washington was listed 138th when the Census Bureau published a list of the 1,000 most common American surnames from the 2000 survey, along with ethnic data. The project was not repeated in 2010.

Ninety percent of those Washingtons, numbering 146,520, were black. Only five percent, or 8,813, were white. Three percent were two or more races, 1 percent were Hispanic, and 1 percent were Asian or Pacific Islander.

Jefferson was the second-blackest name, at 75 percent African-American. There were only 16,070 Lincolns, and that number was only 14 percent black.

Jackson was 53 percent black. Williams was the 16th-blackest name, at 46 percent. But there were 1,534,042 total Williamses, including 716,704 black ones – so there were more blacks named Williams than anything else.

(The name Black was 68 percent white, meaning there were far more white Blacks than black Blacks. The name White, meanwhile, was 19 percent black.)"
-snip-
In the 2003 Allegheny County surname study posted above, the last name "Washington" is #11 on the list of the 50 most common last names for African American children born during 1992-2001 and does not appear on the list of non-African American children born during that time period.

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3 comments:

  1. Interesting statistics. Do you think the prevalence of surnames like Washington and Jefferson among African Americans reflects a deliberate historical choice among black people in the 19th c? When it became necessary for them to adopt official surnames, did they choose to be called after noted freedom fighters rather than some plantation owner?

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    Replies
    1. Hello, slam2011.

      Yes. I have read that the prevalence of the Washington & Jefferson surname is a deliberate choice among Black Americans who were required to indicate a last name. Black Americans who were free before the end of the US Civil War already had surnames, and some recently freed Black Americans already had surnames which were often not the same as their most recent "master".

      I was a guest at a reunion for a Black family in which one of the elders told a story about how members of their family came to have different last names. After emancipation, when Black people were required to tell the authorities what their "title' (last name) would be, one brother decided to take the last name of their last master. However, three other brothers asked permission to use the name of another former slave owner who was known for being good to his slaves. That man's last name was "Watkins"- at least that what some members of that family believe. That former slave master gave his permission for the brothers to use his name. However, because of faulty memory, or because the man or men who wrote down that name spelled it differently for each of the three brothers, some of the descendents of those brothers have the last name "Watkins", some have the last name "Walters", and some have the last name "Walker". And the members of the family aren't really sure which name was the actual name that former slave owner had.

      But one of the best accounts that I've read of how a Black American family got its last name, is that of the family with the last name "Beman". According to the book that I read- I think its title was something like "Speak Loud In Thundertones", a freed slave chose the last name "Beman" so that everyone could never forget that he was a man.

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