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The Lost Names of 1913

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It’s a fallacy that, in the sweet old days, baby names were conventional and “normal” — children were named Mary and John or, at the outer fringes of adventurism, Ethel and Irving.

The truth is that a century ago there were scores of invented names, names with kreeative spellings, surnames and words turned first names, gender crossovers, and trendy choices that were there today and gone — very very gone — tomorrow.

The Top 1000 list of 1913 — go here to find it — is full of such unconventional baby names: Girls named Joseph and boys (lots of ‘em) named Mary, boys named Prince and girls named Queen.

Among the most popular names are choices rarely heard today — Edna and Gladys, Elmer and Floyd — along with rising stars of the baby name world such as Ruby and Hazel, Oscar and Everett.

And then down toward the bottom of the Top 1000, below such oddities to our ears as Milburn and Mafalda, are names that seem eminently “normal,” even cool, in the modern world like Lilah and Reid, Lexie and Reese.

There’s a lot to study and write about in the 1913 baby name roster, but our focus today are the lost names of 1913 — those that show up on the Top 1000 then but are virtually unheard of now.

Of course, some of you may have heard of some of these names, most likely via an ancestor or a character in a long-ago book or film. But most of these names, with their 1913 rank in parentheses, have disappeared from use.

girls

Ollie (172)
Leola (205)
Elva (209)
Alta (213)
Ola (220)
Nannie (242)
Elnora (250)
Zelma (252)
Letha (262)
Neva (276)
Zella (343)
Dessie (345)
Dovie (393)
Vada (394)
Alpha (403)
Verda (411)
Elda (412)
Lona (417)
Mozelle (329)
Florine (424)
Wilda (430)
Melva (462)
Zola (471)
Floy (473
Glenna (475)
Orpha (489)
Albina (491)
Veda (494)
Retha (506)
Lura (518)
Velva (521)
Era (522)
Idella (523)
Zora (537)
Elna (541)
Myrtice (547)
Cleta (742)
Treva (766)
Exie (845)
Enola (857)
Monnie (863)
Fairy (873)
Louvenia (893)

boys

Delbert (184)
Elwood (206)
Garland (286)
Alva (307)
Buford (357)
Odell (364)
Weldon (366)
Milford (369)
Wilburn (401)
Omer (412)
Odis (415)
Olin (416)
Columbus (423)
Major (430)
Winfred (436)
Coy (439)
Linwood (452)
Lyman (453)
Mose (454)
Ora (473)
Cletus (476)
Dewitt (486)
Otha (495)
Theron (497)
Dock (521)
Haskell (526)
Delmer (532)
Eldred (550)
Elzie (582)
Merton (590)
Alois (597)
Dorsey (631)
Arvid (638)
Hobert (644)
Erling (672)
Clovis (734)
Foy (763)
Loy (771)
Price (800)
Talmadge (829)
Hosea (843)
Burley (916)
Finis (920)
Spurgeon (948)
Christ (973)

The big question: Could/should any of these names be revived?

The 1913 painting illustrating this piece is by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.

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