Alma is a somewhat solemn, soulful name that had a burst of popularity a century ago, then faded into the flowered wallpaper, and is now finding its footing once more. It jumped 154 spots between 2012 and 2013, making it one of the fastest-rising names on the recent list.
In addition to being familiar via the term alma mater, Alma has many cultural ties, one of the most recent being as the character Alma Del Mar played by Michelle Williams in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain. Other characters named Alma have appeared in Deadwood, The Hunger Games,
The name became fashionable in England following the Battle of Alma--named for the Russian river--during the Crimean War.
Always well used in Hispanic families, Alma seems to be on the brink of making a comeback, a la Ella and Ada; appreciated for its simplicity, integrity, and--yes-- soul.