Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by lost civilizations, towns that have been wiped off the planet for one reason or another. And I happen to live near lost towns–with the added allure of being submerged under water.
The sacrifice of the town residents, most who are long gone, cannot be overlooked. They left their beloved small towns so that people living 65 miles away in Boston could have drinking water.
These towns’ disappearance was a part of recent history. In 1938 four central Massachusetts towns in the Swift River Valley were disincorporated to create the state’s largest inland body of water, the Quabbin Reservoir. The towns were: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott.
Anything left from these towns, the artifacts, the relocated buildings, the old photos, the names of these towns’ last residents are all forever stuck in the 1900’s – 1930’s.
As a fan of old-fashioned names, I couldn’t help but notice some of the names as I read about the people who left these early 20th century small towns.
There’s a theory that baby names come back in style about every 80-100 years. Names that come back in style after 80-100 years are often called vintage or revival names.
Based on that theory, baby names from the 1930s (about 80 years from time of writing) should be the next wave of vintage revival names, poised to appear on monogrammed nursery accessories within the next 10-30 years.
But here’s the thing: the biggest revival names aren’t usually the mega-hit top 10 names from 80-100 years ago. The biggest revival names are usually the names that were moderately popular the first time around.
A perfect example of the 80-100 year rule is 2012’s top girl name, Sophia. Sophia had been somewhat popular over a century ago and then gradually declined, only to turn around in the 1990s when it rapidly climbed the Social Security list. However, Sophia is a lot more popular now than it was during its first peak back in 1882 at #116.
Based on that knowledge I set out to find names from the 1930s that weren’t always super common top 10 names, but rather names that peaked during that time and seem to represent the style of the decade.
This diversity is a source of pride for many Americans. Consequently, when naming their offspring some Americans like to recognize the country of their ancestors.
And coincidentally most of these ancestors come from countries with lovely lyrical romance languages–languages such as Greek, Italian, and Spanish. There are also many Americans who claim Irish heritage, another source of trendy names.
I envied those Americans. My heritage doesn’t come from a place with a language that was considered lovely or fashionable when I had my kids.
The observant among you may notice my long, vowel-heavy last name that is–yes, Italian–and wonder why I was squawking.
I’m not Italian. Obscured by my married last name is my (mostly) German ancestry.
Often an inspiration for artwork and music, classic Americana is an untapped resource for baby names rich in history and culture.
These names have American roots. These names have an American image, but (with some exceptions) most aren’t even popular in America. But they have styles appealing to many American parents.
America – Admittedly this is not a surprising pick. What is surprising is how long America has been around as a given name. America first came into use as a given name in America in the 19th century. The name first made the Social Security top 1000 list back in 1880, the earliest year for name rankings.
The Victorian nickname trend that’s hot in the U.K. is getting attention in the U.S.—for girls.
Believe it or not, these names have potential on modern American boys.
Charlie is an example of a nickname-style name that is steadily becoming more popular in the U.S, although it has yet to capture the success it enjoys across the pond, where it ranked at #4 last year.
In the U.S. Charlie is a comeback name that was fashionable in the late 19th century when it consistently ranked in or near the top 30. Through most of the 20th century, Charlie gradually declined to its lowest rank in the 90′s when it ranked in the 400s. This past decade, Charlie has rebounded. Last year it reached #233.
Here are some other nicknames that share the same boyish charm as Charlie. Many were once popular in the U.S. and have comeback potential.