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Presidential Names: Which ones went viral?

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presidential names

By Nick Turner

Like millions of Americans, I was riveted by the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts that aired this month on PBS. (I didn’t manage to watch all of 14 hours, but I hope to catch up eventually.)

I adore the first names in the Roosevelt family tree (Alice, Anna, Edith, Eleanor, Elliot, Ethel and Theodore are probably my favorites). But the documentary also got me thinking about Roosevelt itself, which the family’s charisma helped turn into a surprisingly common baby name.

In 1905, when Teddy Roosevelt was beginning his second term as president, his surname became the 91st most popular baby name in America. At the time, Roosevelt ranked higher than Stephen, Jacob, Alexander, Patrick or Philip.

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Presidential Baby Names: Hail to the Chiefs

presiblog

Just as other countries have their royal names, America has had a long tradition of honoring our  presidents, going back at least as far as John Quincy Adams naming one of his sons George Washington Adams.  Not to mention the presidential surnames that have become latter day fads—think Taylor and Tyler and Madison and Jackson.  Today we’re looking at the first, middle and last names of all the past Chief Executives, to arrive at our Nameberry Picks for best presidential baby names today.

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infljadenxxx

Which people over time have had the greatest influence on baby names in the U.S.? We’ve collected the top dozen individuals who’ve inspired millions of namesakes, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes it was an actual name that went viral; in other cases these people set off a wider-ranging trend. Here, the greatest baby name influencers of all time:

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presjeff

Ever since the first American baby was christened Washington Smith, there has been a tradition here—just as the Brits honor their Royals–to draw inspiration from the surnames of U.S. presidents, with Grant, Tyler, Taylor, Madison, and now Jackson landing high on the hit parade. So here, for President’s Day, are some examples drawn from our history that still resonate—even if the connection to the Commander-in-Chief isn’t always immediately apparent.

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1910boy

Do you love vintage names but want to move beyond the usual classics and Biblical choices?  We looked at the popularity lists of 1910 to uncover hundreds of vintage boys’ names that are no longer in use — but could be revived.

It’s odd that there seem to be more terminally-antiquated boys’ names from 1910 than girls’ names.  After all, girls’ names change more quickly and dramatically than do boys’, which tend to hinge more on tradition and less on fashion.

Yet beyond the Johns and Williams that have always predominated for boys (and still do today), there are dozens, even  hundreds of names that filled the Top 1000 list a hundred years ago and now are lost to time.

They include hero names, surname-names, nickname-names, androgynous names, and even regular old first names that few people seem to use any more.

Sure, some parents who love vintage names might revive Chester or Homer or Julius or Oswald.  But many of these popular names for boys in 1910 are rarely heard today

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