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The Best Names in Your Family Tree

family names

Let’s face it: We all have embarrassing names in our family trees. Great Aunt Hortense and Uncle Myron, Grandma Gladys and Dad Brad. They’re the family names we hope we won’t be expected to pass down to our children.

But hey, today we’re here to celebrate the wonderful names, and we all have those too. Searching through the family archives, you discover that your great-great-grandmother was named Marguerite or Flora, or that you have a handsome Henry or Nathaniel among your forebears. Or it might be a surname or a middle name you discover that’s worth polishing up and passing down: Callahan or Keene or Caruso.

So what’s the best name or names in your family tree? The names you’re actually excited about passing on to a child? And who and where did they come from?

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Vintage Baby Names: Celebrity Faves

vintage baby names

By Abby Sandel

Take an overlooked name with an on-trend sound, add a high profile celebrity birth announcement, and voilà – the next big thing in baby names.

Or not. Some names are too offbeat to catch on. I’m looking at you, Apple and Zuma.

But more often, celebrity baby names are truly influential. Starbabies can turn that name everyone is cautiously considering into the next Top Ten favorite. Ava, Isabella, Jayden, and Liam all got a big boost when Hollywood mamas chose the names.

When it comes to vintage baby names, a new celebrity baby can be a powerful signal that a name is prime for a comeback.

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The Newest, Hottest, Oldest Baby Names

hot baby names

by Pamela Redmond Satran

Every year, the US government issues a list of the names that are making the biggest leaps up the popularity list.  And there, among the reality TV-inspired Daleyzas and Jayceons, sprinkled in with the new-fangled Jurnees and Zayns, is a collection of vintage names that for a range of reasons have suddenly become hot.

Sometimes, the inspiration is a film or television show, as with Marjorie and Game of Thrones or Walter and Hank from Breaking Bad.

A name’s choice by celebrity parents can make it go from sleepy to sizzling too, as happened with Olive after it was used for their daughter by Isla Fisher and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Here, 40 vintage baby names making big leaps up the popularity list.  The +number indicates how many places each name moved up the US popularity list in 2013.  And the second number is the name’s standing on the popularity list.  Please note: Only those names in the Top 1000 are tracked.

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Reviving Gertrude

By Mikita Brottman

“If you will call a dog Hervey,” said the English author Dr. Johnson, “I shall love him.” This quirky adage was meant to praise the unconventional Hervey family, whom Dr. Johnson found excellent company, but he also put his finger on an important truth, which is that the magic of a name doesn’t lie in the name itself, but in those who bear it. It’s the owners of the name that give it a glamorous aura, which is then passed on to others, even if they happen to be a dog.

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The Baby Name Class of 1915

vintage baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

At the start of 2015, it’s interesting to look back a hundred years to see what was happening in the world of baby names.

The Baby Name Class of 1915 included several choices that are once again stylish: Evelyn, Alice, Florence, Lillian, and Rose for girls; William, James, Walter, Henry, and Harry for boys.

Other names in the 1915 Top 20 are starting to be rediscovered, notably Frances and Louise for girls, Raymond and Arthur for boys.

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