The Antebellum Roots of Distinctively Black Names

28 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020 Last revised: 14 Apr 2023

See all articles by Trevon Logan

Trevon Logan

Ohio State University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lisa D. Cook

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College; NBER

John Parman

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Date Written: November 2020

Abstract

This paper explores the existence of distinctively Black names in the antebellum era. Building on recent research that documents the existence of a national naming pattern for African American males in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Cook, Logan and Parman 2014), we analyze three distinct and novel antebellum data sources and uncover three stylized facts. First, the Black names identified by Cook, Logan and Parman using post-Civil War data are common names among Blacks before Emancipation. Second, these same Black names are racially distinctive in the antebellum period. Third, the racial distinctiveness of the names increases from the early 1800s to the time of the Civil War. Taken together, these facts provide support for the claim that Black naming patterns existed in the antebellum era and that racial distinctiveness in naming patterns was an established practice well before Emancipation. These findings further challenge the view that Black names are a product of twentieth century phenomena such as the Civil Rights Movement.

Suggested Citation

Logan, Trevon and Cook, Lisa D. and Parman, John, The Antebellum Roots of Distinctively Black Names (November 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28101, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3731271

Trevon Logan (Contact Author)

Ohio State University ( email )

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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Lisa D. Cook

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College ( email )

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NBER ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John Parman

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

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