Category: Angela Mastrodonato
With names, as with other subjects, once I learned my assumptions were wrong, I was put in my place.
Pre-kids, I was a name-snob who openly expressed disdain for invented names, grouping all invented names with experimental spellings, and modern word-play creations such as Abcde (ab-si-dee) and La-A (la-dash-ah).
And then shortly after my daughter was born, I discovered I had unintentionally given her an invented name.
No, I didn’t invent the name. The name was invented by an author, and they seem to have a knack for inventing great names. One author known as a master-namer is Shakespeare.
For years there has been a theory floating around the name world that names appearing on personalized items in the Pottery Barn Kid’s catalog are up-and-coming names to watch. The topic has come up on the Nameberry forums.
Being a big time name watcher, I’m curious of course.
To test this theory, I perused some Pottery Barn Kids online catalog archives this past summer. The online catalog archives go back four years. I sampled one issue for each year: 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. For every catalog, I included every name that was legible in the sample.
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.