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Category: old names

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Are you lucky enough to know the names of your great-grandparents?

I know most of them: Garrett and Elizabeth/Lizzie, Patrick and Catherine, William and Margaret, and something and Eugenia.

They were born in Ireland and Austria and Scotland and  right here in the U.S.A., and their names make a combination of classic standards and intriguing vintage names.  Plus at least one great-grandmother had an intriguing maiden name that might work as a middle: Early.  Love it.

What were your great-grandparents’ names?  Do you know anything about their names or the lives of those more distant ancestors?  Where did they come from and what did they do?  Would you name a child after them?

Here, some notable names of famous people’s fathers.

Augustine Washington

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George Washington’s father was a Virginia Colony-born tobacco planter. Augustine, the influential saint’s name, snuck back onto the 2012 Top 1000 list at Number 999, after being in limbo for decades, perhaps slip-sliding in the wake of the growing popularity of August.

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Baby Names: Once so hot, now so not

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The history of baby names is littered with former stars that burned brightly for a decade or two, only to fade from view.

It’s hard to believe, from this vantage point, that Gladys or Edna ever made the Top 20, that names such as Harold or Larry were ever popular enough to dominate an entire decade.

It’s difficult to see Irene and Albert as the Isabella and Alexander of their day, to view Tammy or Tiffany as the height of cool.

Many of these once-hot names are lovely, even classic.  They’re just not as stylish as they once were (although some, especially from the earlier decades, are on their way back in).

We looked at the Top 25 baby names for each decade of the 20th century to pick out choices that were hot back them, and are not today.  Included here are Old People Names like Bertha and Clarence, Baby Boomer names such as Karen and Gary, today’s mom and dad names such as Jennifer and Jason, and names like Taylor and Tyler that are beginning to be heard much more often on babysitters than on babies.

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One of my favorite poems, for reasons that will soon be obvious, is called “Mourning the Dying American Female Names,” by Hunt Hawkins.  You can read the whole poem here, but I’ll give you a few choice lines:

Many names are almost gone: Gertrude, Myrtle,

Agnes, Bernice, Hortense, Edna, Doris, and Hilda,

They were wide women, cotton-clothed, early rising.

You had to move your mouth to say their names,

and they meant strength, speak, battle, and victory.

While many of the names Hawkins mourns do indeed seem to be dying, a few he goes on to mention  — Ada, Florence, and Edith– are stirring back to life.

But then there are the new names headed toward obscurity, my own among them.

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