Category: Family Names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
In case you don’t think the middle name choice is an important one, just take a look at the startling number of celebrities who have opted for using theirs in lieu of the first name on their birth certificates! Some have dropped a ho-hum common in favor of a more dramatic middle, others, to avoid confusion, have shed a name shared with their parent.
To begin with, there have been five US Presidents who have made the first-middle name switch:
Hiram Ulysses S. Grant—At 17, when entering West Point, his name was mistakenly written as Ulysses S. Grant and he apparently was happy to lose the HUG initials. The S was for his mother’s maiden name, Simpson.
When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, a girl, choosing her name was efficient and simple. We tossed around a few names that neither of us hated and within 5 minutes decided that our wee girl would be called Juliette. We never wavered or second guessed ourselves. We had no idea at the time that we’d have 5 additional children rounding out our family. I didn’t recognize that choosing the first couple of kid’s names sort of sets the tone for additional kid’s name. It certainly doesn’t have to if sibset continuity doesn’t matter to you but for me, that is something I wish I’d considered.
Like millions of Americans, I was riveted by the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts that aired this month on PBS. (I didn’t manage to watch all of 14 hours, but I hope to catch up eventually.)
I adore the first names in the Roosevelt family tree (Alice, Anna, Edith, Eleanor, Elliot, Ethel and Theodore are probably my favorites). But the documentary also got me thinking about Roosevelt itself, which the family’s charisma helped turn into a surprisingly common baby name.
In 1905, when Teddy Roosevelt was beginning his second term as president, his surname became the 91st most popular baby name in America. At the time, Roosevelt ranked higher than Stephen, Jacob, Alexander, Patrick or Philip.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
This month, in addition to a by-now-expected goldmine of gorgeously creative individual names, we have two pairs of twins and one set of triplets:
We also noticed many more consonant-starting names than usual: could be coincidence, could be a trend.
Back in 2012, I heard about parents naming their babies Draper in honor of Mad Men. I remember thinking the idea was daring but a little silly. These people were taking the last-name-as-first-name trend to an absurd conclusion, I griped.
It had been a few years since occupational surnames like Cooper and Mason had become popular, and I worried that pretty soon every kid would be a Fletcher, Tanner or Jagger. Traditional names were a dying species.
Then I made a startling discovery.