Category: antique baby names

Baby Names Before 1850

vintage baby names

Records on baby names only started in the US in 1880, and so getting an accurate read on what babies were named before that has been difficult at best. But now a researcher named Douglas Galbi has compiled lists of baby names drawn from census records of the early 19th century. With the help of Esita Rocha, we combed through Galbi’s data on baby names from 1800 to 1850 in search of trends, patterns, and vintage baby names that go way beyond the expected John and Mary, Elizabeth and James. Here, our findings, illustrated by American folk art of the same period.   — Pamela Redmond Satran

Read More

What Names Are Ripe for Revival?

rsz_screen_shot_2014-06-04_at_32946_pm

You know who are the biggest berries of all?  That’s right, me and LindaEven if we didn’t work here, we’d probably spend all our time obsessively tooling around the site.

And though we wrote all the name entries ourselves, we’re constantly re-encountering names that we maybe kinda forgot existed and now appreciate anew.  Wow, we think.  That’s a cool one.  Wonder if it will ever come back?

This just happened to me with the name Cyrilla.  The boys’ equivalent Cyril is handsome if a bit effete for the modern world, though it may get rediscovered thanks to the revival of the similar Cyrus and Silas. But what about Cyrilla? That’s a cool old name that’s at once exotic and familiar, highly unusual — there were NO girls named Cyrilla recorded on the most recent Social Security list — yet not invented. Besides being the feminine form of the Latin Cyril, it’s also a botanical name for flowering plant found throughout the tropics.

So I nominate Cyrilla as a name that’s ripe for revival. What are some old names you think might become new again?

Photo of antique doll from Kathy Libraty’s Antiques at Ruby Lane.

Read More

collect4

There was a time when I did a lot of writing about antiques and collectibles, in the course of which I amassed five or six tall  bookcases fully stocked with volumes on everything from Mickey Mouse memorabilia to model trains to Meissen porcelain.  But since I’ve become almost exclusively  Berry-focused, I keep thinking I should cull the collection and make room for my ever expanding assemblage of international name books.  Yet something always stops me.

Just today, I was thinking I would drop off a few books at least at my local library, but every time I’d pick one up—Golf Collectibles, say, or Depression Glass—something would impel me to put it down.  And why?  Because each one is filled with names of one kind or another, names that just might be of interest to the Berries as antique baby names.

So, to justify (or not) my ambivalence, I thought I’d browse through a few of them to see what I could come up with, trying to avoid the proper names of makers, but looking for words with baby name potential.  Here’s what I came up with—see what you think.

Amberina–an amber glass made with a gold powder, used in art glass

Read More

476px-Cassatt_Mary_Baby_John_Being_Nursed_1910

Do you want a vintage name for your daughter but are hoping to uncover a hidden treasure from the past?  We combed the popularity lists in search of cool vintage names you may not have heard before.

We’ve written a lot about the names of 1910 that are coming back, thanks to the Hundred Year Rule: Alice and Florence, Lillian and Hazel and Ruby.

But what about the names in the Top 1000 of 1910 that are virtually unknown now? A hundred years ago, Helen was the number 2 name for girls, right behind Mary. Mildred was number 8, Ethel number 13, and the dubious Gladys hot on her heels at 15. You don’t meet many Ethels and Gladyses (Gladysi?) anymore outside the nursing home.

And I’ve never heard of a Ceola, Ozella, or Exie, yet those names and dozens of others now lost were in the 1910 Top 1000.

Several months ago we looked at the Lost Names of 1880, and were surprised by how many there were. We declare ourselves surprised anew by how many lost names we’ve located on the 1910 roster that are different from those we listed in the 1880 story.

The first group are not lost, exactly, as they’re still heard from time to time. A few — Blanche, Lula, Viola — may even make a comeback. But most of these names, popular in 1910, have been in mothballs for decades now and may never make it out.

Read More

Jane Austen Names

janeaustennames

Guest blogger LAUREN MILLER, known to her fellow nameberry regulars as LEMON, introduces us to the charming names of Jane Austen.

I still remember my first Jane Austen experience. I was turning twelve, on the cusp of becoming a teenager, when my mother bought me a collector’s box of Austen novels. As I read my fresh copy of Pride and Prejudice – well worn and loved by now! – I was captivated by Miss Austen’s eloquence, truth, and charming wit. But, I soon learned that Jane’s books were a treasure trove of another kind. Beneath the tales of heartache and true love lay another gem – the names!

The first names chosen by Austen are very much reflective of the early 19th century England. These names embody the traditional, conservative styles preferred by Englishmen at this time, and they convey a sense of strength, sophistication, and substance. Monikers used by Austen continue to thrive on today’s popularity charts, yet, like Austen’s novels, they will always be regarded as classics.

Handsome, sturdy choices for boys include Charles, Henry, James, John, Thomas, and William. Names with a slightly more vintage sound include Edward, Edmund, Frederick, and George. All of these names, in addition to sounding distinguished and elegant, come with immense nickname potential. Tired of Freddie? Your little Frederick could just as easily become Red or Fritz.

Some of the names chosen by Austen reflect the growing trend towards using nicknames as names. Most notably, perhaps, is Mansfield Park’s Fanny Price. Not so keen on using Fanny as a full name? Try its longer form – Frances! Other nickname names for girls include Kitty and Lizzy, for the lovely Bennet girls of Pride and Prejudice. Moving on from these shortened forms, we enter a world of demure sophistication and understated feminine charm in the form of classic names for girls.

ANNE

CAROLINE

CATHERINE

CHARLOTTE

Read More