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Category: historic names

thanksthursday

The story of Thanksgiving spans nearly four centuries and features a large cast of characters, from the very well known, like Miles Standish and George Washington, to those sometimes neglected, including such Native American participants as Massasoit and Squanto. Here, the Thanksgiving names that might be perfect for a late November baby.

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namesakeadlai

By Linda Rosenkrantz

Last week we looked at some neglected girls’ namesake names, now it’s the boys’ turn as we seek some equally distinctive names from American history and culture, names that could provide unique-ish options with interesting back-stories.  What’s especially evident here is how many of the unusual boys’ names are mothers’ maiden names that started out in the middle but were switched by their sons into first place.

Adlai Stevenson—There were three noted generational bearers of this name– their combined accomplishments: one vice president, two senators, one governor, a two-time presidential nominee, and an ambassador to the UN.

Alpheus Hyatt was the founder of the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole; his namesake Alpheus Hyatt Verrill invented the autochrome natural color photography process, and there have been two Alpheuses in the U.S. Senate.

Atlee Burpee (full name Washington Atlee but always called by his middle) was creator the world’s largest mail-order seed house.

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arika

By Arika Okrent, mentalfloss.com

The Social Security website has data on the thousand most popular baby names for boys and girls going back to 1880, when John and Mary came in first. A look at the old lists shows that the most popular names are always changing, but some of the naming trends have been around for longer than it might seem. Here are 11 naming trends of the past.

1. IMPORTANT TITLES

The current list has some names that carry a grand sense of importance (Messiah, King, Marquis), but the 1880s and 90s also had its grand titles in the 200 to 400 range of ranked popularity. For the boys, there was General, Commodore, Prince, and Major. For the girls there was Queen, which hovered around the 500 mark until the 1950s.

2. CITIES & STATES

Cities as names are not a new thing, however. Boston was a boy’s name in the 1880s. Dallas and Denver have been around since the 1880s, as has Cleveland (though it peaked in popularity during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, so perhaps should count as a president name instead.) Some of our state names come from women’s names, so it is expected that states like Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia should be represented on name lists. But other state names have made the list too. Missouri made the girl’s name list from 1880 until about 1900 and Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas also showed up a few times as girls’ names in the 1800s.

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baby name Cataleya

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Trendy baby names have been around a lot longer Miley Cyrus or any of the famous Kardashians. From the dawn of recorded U.S. baby name history — aka 1880, when the federal government began keeping records — we’ve adopted names inspired by current events and popular people and culture, only to leave them behind for a new inspiration the next year.

The inspiration for name trends a century ago may have been politicians and war heroes rather than reality stars, but the definition of trendy baby names was the same: Names that spiked in popularity thanks to an outside influence, then sank from view along with its original bearer.

An organization called Flowing Data has calculated the trendiest names in US history, a fascinating look at which names burned the brightest only to fade the fastest.

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Born on the Fourth of July

fourth-of-july-vintage-postcard-3

Yes, July 4th is the birthday of America, but it’s also an occasion to salute some of the notable people who share that date—and of course featuring those with the more interesting names. It makes for quite a diverse little birthday party—from Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in 1804, to First Daughter Malia Obama, born in 1998. But we won’t be including three who erroneously claimed the date as their own—composer George M. ‘born on the Fourth of July’ Cohan, MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and Louis Armstrong, whose real date of birth was August 4th.

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