Category: Historic Names
By Andrew Osterdahl
While modern celebrity couples like Jay-Z and Beyoncé and Kanye and Kim have given us unusually named offspring (North West, anyone?), strangely named public figure are nothing new, as my site, The Strangest Names in American Political History illustrates. For the past fourteen years I’ve been collecting and categorizing instances of curiously named American political figures, and I established this blog in July of 2011.
You may be wondering “Can there really be that many instances of strangely named politicians?” As I’ve stumbled upon upwards of 3,500 names in the past decade (as well as the 400+ profiles on the site that I’ve written in the past three years), the answer is an unequivocal yes!
Looking at names that were popular in the early days of the U.S. gives us a chance to reflect on how much we have changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We are clearly more multicultural as a society in terms of how many different countries, languages, ethnicities and cultural traditions we draw from in choosing names for our children.
Most of the common names in the early nineteenth century in this country came from the British tradition, and in fact, the lists of popular names would be almost identical for England and America. And yet names were chosen from some of the same sources as today: family histories, celebrities, religious traditions and popular entertainment. The lack of variety or originality of the name lists from this period belies the fact that names were chosen to denote respectability rather than the individuality valued today.
To the Western world and Northern Hemisphere, July marks the beginning of sunny beach vacations, shady afternoon barbeques and sweltering hot temperatures. To name nerds all over the world, it brings a fresh batch of names inspired by history. In addition to Independence Day fireworks and parades, we have a diamond tycoon’s birthday, a Continental Congress resolution and the anniversary of several record-breaking explorations to celebrate.
Cecil- Cecil J. Rhodes, a British businessman, mining tycoon, and South African politician, was said to have controlled about 90 percent of the world’s diamond production in the nineteenth century. Now his surname is most commonly recognized for the Rhodes Scholarship, which allows select foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. Though Cecil has lost much of its potency over the years, it still maintains a strong presence in the sports and jazz worlds and retains references to American filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Of the 4,352 institutions of higher learning in the United States, many provide a rich source of name possibilities. And no, you don’t have to have gone to Yale to use it for your baby.
Here are 20 of the best:
Alfred University in upstate New York is the second oldest co-ed institution in the US. The venerable appellation Alfred is seeing new light as a path to nns Alfie and Freddie; hot British actor Freddie Highmore was born Alfred.