Category: vintage girl names
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Once a year, we like to stop and turn the calendar back a hundred years to see what parents were naming their babes a century ago and whether we might find some undiscovered treasures that, following the hundred-year rule, might be ready to be revived.
What was the world like in 1913? Trouble was fomenting abroad in the year preceding World War I, but in the US it was a time of new beginnings, with the election of Woodrow Wilson, the births of future Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, women marching to gain the vote– and, for better or worse, it was the year that saw the introduction of the Federal income tax, the first cigarette pack, stainless steel and the zipper.
Things were quiet at the top end of the baby name popularity list as well, headed by the expected classics for boys: John, William, James, Robert, Joseph, George, Charles, Edward, Frank and Thomas (not dissimilar to the royal baby list), while for the girls there were period favorites Mary (36,000+ of them), Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ruth, Mildred, Anna, Elizabeth, Frances and Marie. Of these Top 10 boys and girls, only William and Elizabeth survive on the current Top 10, with James and Joseph still in the Top 20.
Vintage names have been cool for a while now, but old school nicknames are just starting to come into their own.
The Brits have led the way on the revival of the retro nickname, with their fashionable little Alfies and Evies, Freddys and Teddys — though Teddy just might be a girl.
Using one of these new old nicknames for your child can be a way to give a fresh spin to a classic name, to distinguish a little girl from her namesake grandma, or to set your Henry apart from the five others on the block.
Here, a roundup of classic and vintage names and their old school nicknames.
“BRAHNwyn!” he said incredulously. “BRAHNwyn?”
“Well, when you say it like that, it doesn’t sound very pretty,” I pouted.
Granted, Bronwyn was a guilty pleasure. I didn’t really expect my husband to go along with it as the given name for any daughter we might have. But must his voice take on that grating nasal edge when he said it out loud? He sounded like a goose honking.
No more than eight weeks up the duff, I was still newly pregnant when my husband and I began discussing potential baby names for our unborn child. I had just informed him that I really liked the name Bronwyn Rose for a girl, but admitted that with the last name of Alexander, I was worried about her initials spelling “bra.”
“That’s your only concern about the name Bronwyn?!” my husband asked in amazement.
Our Berry Question of the Week comes from Jen Barnes of Seattle, who’s facing a common problem in Baby Name Land: She and her husband are having trouble agreeing on a name for their second daughter. Here, the names he likes and those that she likes. Your job, dear berries, is to help them find a name they both will love. Jen writes:
Please help us name baby #2! Our 2nd baby girl is arriving in 4 short weeks and she has no name! Our 18-month-old daughter, Rose Katherine, was named the second we found out that she was a girl! Every time I think I have some names narrowed down, I add one to the list. My husband has been no help in this process either — ha. Here are the names he likes:
Shayla- he used to live in a city (spelled Xela) in Guatemala with this name and it is very dear to his heart but I am just not feeling it.
I love the name Nora but I fear that it is becoming too popular. What do you think?
Here are my favorite names currently:
Another new year, another opportunity to test out the 100-Year Rule, a chance to look at the pop lists of 1912 to see if we can find some undiscovered gems to excavate and polish up.
Looking first at the boys’ 1912 Top 10, we see that it consisted completely of gold-standard classics: John, William, James, Robert, Joseph, George, Charles, Edward, Frank and Thomas—with William being the only one surviving on today’s Top 10. But since boys (names) will be boys (names), and more consistent in general (at least until recently, anyway), most of those names are still very much in play.
For the girls, the list was a little more idiosyncratic and time-linked, encompassing classics and semi-classics that have moved in and out of fashion over time: none of the Top 10 then– Mary, Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ruth, Mildred, Anna, Elizabeth, Frances and Marie is in the Top 10 today, with only Elizabeth ranking as high as Number 12. But Helen, Dorothy, Ruth and Frances, in particular, are trying to obey the 100-Year Rule by coming into wider use.
Here are some names from the 1912 Top 500 that have abided by the Rule to appear stylish once more: