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.
In addition to being familiar via the term alma mater, Alma has many cultural ties, such as Alma Mahler, a 19th Century composer and musician and 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, American Horror Story, and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. In the Tennessee Williams play Summer and Smoke, a character named Alma explains that her name is "Spanish for soul."
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.