Category: vintage baby names
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been fascinated by lost civilizations, towns that have been wiped off the planet for one reason or another. And I happen to live near lost towns–with the added allure of being submerged under water.
The sacrifice of the town residents, most who are long gone, cannot be overlooked. They left their beloved small towns so that people living 65 miles away in Boston could have drinking water.
These towns’ disappearance was a part of recent history. In 1938 four central Massachusetts towns in the Swift River Valley were disincorporated to create the state’s largest inland body of water, the Quabbin Reservoir. The towns were: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott.
Anything left from these towns, the artifacts, the relocated buildings, the old photos, the names of these towns’ last residents are all forever stuck in the 1900’s – 1930’s.
As a fan of old-fashioned names, I couldn’t help but notice some of the names as I read about the people who left these early 20th century small towns.
There’s a theory that baby names come back in style about every 80-100 years. Names that come back in style after 80-100 years are often called vintage or revival names.
Based on that theory, baby names from the 1930s (about 80 years from time of writing) should be the next wave of vintage revival names, poised to appear on monogrammed nursery accessories within the next 10-30 years.
But here’s the thing: the biggest revival names aren’t usually the mega-hit top 10 names from 80-100 years ago. The biggest revival names are usually the names that were moderately popular the first time around.
A perfect example of the 80-100 year rule is 2012’s top girl name, Sophia. Sophia had been somewhat popular over a century ago and then gradually declined, only to turn around in the 1990s when it rapidly climbed the Social Security list. However, Sophia is a lot more popular now than it was during its first peak back in 1882 at #116.
Based on that knowledge I set out to find names from the 1930s that weren’t always super common top 10 names, but rather names that peaked during that time and seem to represent the style of the decade.
By Haley Sedgwick
I’ve always loved reading classic books. By the time I was twelve, I’d read a few Shakespearean plays, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility. Shakespeare was great of course; however, Jane Austen gave me even more. With her novels, I got the charming, delightful gentlemen I’d always dreamt of (and still do dream of!), the romance, the passion, and, a new range and style of names. After reading Pride & Prejudice (and falling in love with the thought of finding my own Mr. Darcy), I fell in love with the Georgian style of naming.
A time of great elegance, the Georgian era – named for the four British King Georges who ruled over it — lasted over 115 years, from 1714 to 1830. Along with Eliza Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the Georgian era often conjures images of powdered wigs and stately architecture. Many of the buildings and styles of the Georgian era are still extant today – including the Georgian taste in names.
The Victorian nickname trend that’s hot in the U.K. is getting attention in the U.S.—for girls.
Believe it or not, these names have potential on modern American boys.
Charlie is an example of a nickname-style name that is steadily becoming more popular in the U.S, although it has yet to capture the success it enjoys across the pond, where it ranked at #4 last year.
In the U.S. Charlie is a comeback name that was fashionable in the late 19th century when it consistently ranked in or near the top 30. Through most of the 20th century, Charlie gradually declined to its lowest rank in the 90′s when it ranked in the 400s. This past decade, Charlie has rebounded. Last year it reached #233.
Here are some other nicknames that share the same boyish charm as Charlie. Many were once popular in the U.S. and have comeback potential.
Legions of expectant parents search for that “underused classic” name each year.
But what exactly is an “underused classic” name? Do underused classic names even exist? Are they some impossible standard like names that are universally appealing and forever-guaranteed-to-stay-unique?
“Classic” can be interpreted differently by different people. Instead of describing a name as “classic” I usually use “traditional” or “timeless” instead.
Semantics aside, a working definition of how I decide what makes a name “classic” might be useful. And in my world there is more than one type of classic name:
Authentic Classics – Evergreen names like Elizabeth and James. Ideally these names have never left the top 50 since 1880, the earliest year name rankings are available from the Social Security Administration.