Baby Name Timeline
When we were preparing the article “Bizarre Baby Names: A Growing Trend?” for the July issue of Reader’s Digest magazine that’s just hit the stands, we put together a lonnnnnng timeline of the key markers in American name history–much longer than they could possibly use with the story. So here we offer you some of the dates and events that you won’t find in the magazine.
1845. The Irish famine sends masses of Bridgets and Patricks to America.
1946. Publication of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care encourages parents to be more relaxed, confident and collaborative: husbands participate more in child care–and baby naming.
1974. The first issue of People magazine accelerates fascination with celebrity culture, parents start to be increasingly influenced by names stars give their babies.
2000. The Internet inspires parents to search genealogy sites for old family names.
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on June 24th, 2009 at 2:59 am
Fascinating! I haven’t had a chance to read the Reader’s Digest article, but did your original list mention the early 20th-century’s interest in Greek names for girls? I’ve come across a lot of Zenobias, Hermiones, and Ariadnes from that time.
on June 24th, 2009 at 10:11 am
I’m not sure if this has a place in this thread, but some eccentric names like the above are to be found in this thread of steam punk fans discussing names for their current and future children. Steam punk is speculative sci fi, as in Wild Wild West or Jules Verne.
Here’s the thread:
on June 24th, 2009 at 4:01 pm
I don’t think it’s accurate to say that “reason returns” in 2008 during the recession. Those listed names were popular way before 2008, some back to the 80’s and 90’s when the economy was booming. Also, “traditional names” are called that because you can find them an all eras. It’s a myth that recession brings classic names; it’s not supported by evidence.
Sarah Rose Said
on June 24th, 2009 at 6:43 pm
I agree with Azure on the traditional names during a recession being a myth. Statistics and research show the opposite to be true. Check out this link from CBS news:
on June 25th, 2009 at 2:15 am
Azure and Sarah Rose–I see your point. I’m afraid we were a little glib in trying to bring the timeline into the present for the readership of a general interest magazine like Readers Digest; the magazine timeline ends with the election of Barack Obama presaging a new multicultural naming era. (All in all, it was quite difficult trying to fit the gradual shifts in naming into a date-specific timeline.)
on June 25th, 2009 at 9:29 pm
This was a really interesting article. Can’t wait to read it in American Digest.
on June 25th, 2009 at 9:35 pm
Thanks–you can link to the Readers Digest article right from this blog.
on August 19th, 2009 at 5:31 pm
how can I do that Linda? Will it work from Wales? (you know what a technophobe I am!)
on April 6th, 2010 at 10:44 pm
I believe that “Adan” is more often given to babies as the Hispanic equivalent of “Adam,” pronounced ah-DAHN, not as another botched spelling of Aidan/Aiden/Ayden/Aaden, etc.
on May 20th, 2010 at 8:26 pm
Not that we are having baby 3 any time soon, I just had baby 2, but we intend to name our next born son Arthur, Walter, Graham or Alister and our daughter Lavinia, Rosalind, Susannah or Beatrice.
We figure any of those go well with Matilda and Eloise.
on November 5th, 2013 at 2:18 am
What about the rise of the name Shirley? I see you have a photo of Shirley Temple at the top but no mention is given to her impact on naming choices at the time. Btw, my own mother is named Shirley, but in 1953, South Africa. I enjoyed the article – I wish there was this kind of name data for South Africa, I have always wanted to know how it compares to the rest of the world.
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