Baby Names of 1912: Hester, Chester & Sylvester
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:
We’re wondering if, in the climate of pushing the envelope for fusty Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa names, the following not-yet-revived choices have any comeback potential to be in the next generation of surprising encores. The starred names were exiled onto the So Far Out They’ll Probably Always Be Out list in our very first book, Beyond Jennifer & Jason. The number in parenthesis is where the name stood in 1912.
Do you think any of the above could make a comeback? Would you consider them?
And here, for both girls and boys, are some other 1912 names that are more unusual, dark-horse candidates for following the 100-year rule:
What do you think? Any that might be the new centurions in the next few years?
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on January 4th, 2012 at 1:56 am
I love almost all of these names. I wish more of them would catch on! And all these trendy names and names with kre8tive spellings would fade away for a hundred years (or more 😉 )
on January 4th, 2012 at 2:49 am
Lots names have been on my favorites kist for a long time and I’m going to need them to stay unpopular plz!
They include: Estelle, Etta, & Zella are all in my family tree so probably gonna use at least one!
I prefer Hesper over Hester and I think Madge is feisty and fun.
I like Abner more now because Asher is so trendy.
Really like Effie (Trinket), Winnie, and Elsie for nn to Elspeth. Like Nola and Petra too
on January 4th, 2012 at 2:56 am
Oh, this might be one of my favorite lists of names on a blog in a long time! So many names I love. But, there are really some gems on the ‘extra’ lists, too!
I could definitely see Elsie, Estelle, Lucille, Odessa, and Ophelia on little girls today, whereas Ambrose, Bruno, and Otto could be poised for a comeback on the boys’ side.
On the nickname swing, I’m in love with Lessie! It’s sort of wordy-weird, but I like the sound. What was it originally short for? It seems nature for Alessandra or something, though I doubt she was all the rage in 1912.
Finally, some super-cool options in the dark-horse category. My favorites? Garnet, Leola, Lilla, and Nola for girls, and Armand, Dorsey, Hollis, and Noble for boys!
on January 4th, 2012 at 5:10 am
Lovely list. Fav girls names:
Fav boys names:
Sylvan (I know one who’s 25!)
I look forward to next years! 🙂
on January 4th, 2012 at 8:28 am
Sylvester! I saw potential with this name a couple of years ago because it has the v just like Oliver, Everett, and Calvin. I would mention Sylvester, and typical reactions were that Sylvester the cat and Sylvester Stallone made the name unusable. But in a few years these associations will be forgotten. I would love to see a little Sylvester!
I can see Ida and Iva easily coming back soon. As parents tire of Ava, they turn to Ada, then Ida, then Iva.
Oh, and my Great Grandmother was named Lottie Ardella.
on January 4th, 2012 at 8:37 am
Great lists. I’m already a bit bored with the first list as we already hear so much about those names. I am more intrigued by the Great GrandPa/Dark Horses Lists.
Love seeing Garland, Mortimer! Giles, Hollis, Sylvan, Theron, Otto, Fritz, Percy, Enoch, Ulysses & Ambrose
Girls: I love Alma, Maudie, Effie, Birdie, Winnie, Ida, Pauline, Winifred, Zelma, Petra Thora, Lilla & Garnet.
on January 4th, 2012 at 9:12 am
Garland on the boys list, Yeah! 🙂
Love Garland to pieces. Also Rex, Winifred/Winnie & Leo! Lovely, lovely lists today, tthanks!
on January 4th, 2012 at 10:26 am
I adore Enid! I want her back so! Also, Madge and Winifred.
Names I think can/should come back today:
Doris, Enid, Maxine, Ophelia, Winifred, Ethel, Thora
Alonzo, Ambrose, Edwin, Enoch, Fritz, Gilbert, Wilbur, Willard, Hollis, Noble, Loyal, Sylvan
And, I know a real, live little girl (about 4 years old?) named Essie! (short for Esme, I believe)
on January 4th, 2012 at 10:48 am
Armand, Loyal and Silvan from the Dark Horse list have totally made their way through my current considerations — and I know a 4-year-old Coy.
on January 4th, 2012 at 10:59 am
I love so many of these names! As far as the “so far out…” list, Both Bruno and Waldo are on my list! However my husband keeps saying “No” to Bruno, and we will probably have to use Waldo as a middle to avoid the whole “Where’s Waldo” thing. But I think using Waldo is a great & fresh way to honor my love for Ralph Waldo Emerson. & Bruno? Well, I think it must just be the spunky little “o” ending.
Also, if we name a future girl Bianca we are going to call her “Birdie” from time to time!
on January 4th, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Ah, this list is right up my alley! I love vintage names (I refuse to call them “old-fashioned”, “old-lady”, “old-man”, “grandma”, “grandpa” etc…). I really can’t see Beulah, Myrtle, Dudley, Horace or Waldo coming back as first names any time soon. However, I really think Horatio would be a great alternative to Horace. It does have the spunky “o” at the end! I don’t know why but vintage names are so much more interesting to me than the current crop of surnames, word names and the like. Maybe the fact that they’ve been around for many years is the key. Their longevity equals familiarity and they remind me of a bygone era when the world was a safer and gentler place. Thank you Pam and Linda for bringing a smile to my face today!
on January 4th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
I LOVE Enid and Fritz from the lists. And Reginald, nn Reggie as well.
My 9 month old son’s middle name is Morris (but that’s because it was my mother’s maiden name). And my great-grandmother was Alta Plennie although she went by Plennie. My favorite aunt is named Mary Helen (she goes by both) and I wanted to use Helen so badly for our daughters. Unfortunately, my husband only agreed to Helen as a mn for our third and she turned out to be a he.
I know a little 6 year old boy named Cecil. And went to college with a handsome young man named Chester (who, thankfully, went by Chet).
on January 4th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
I must say, I’m excitedly surprised to find that I LOVE almost all the names on these lists!! What a great bunch to make a comeback (and, hopefully take over some of the “kre8tive” ones out there now, as said so well by dillonsfan01). I love old-fashioned names & names that fit whether you’re 1 or 100. The only thing that makes me very sad is the fact that, after I looked up Elsie, I found it to say that it was “popular until its image was ruined by Elsie the Borden cow”. I’ve always been proud to be a Borden decendent, and even prouder that my great grandmother, Elsie was actually named for the Borden cow. I understand that a cow isn’t necessarily something you want to name your baby girl after, but when it was the family business, it’s a no-brainer. I guess I just thought that it was worded a bit insensitively, that’s all. Don’t worry, I’m still a huge fan of Nameberry! 🙂
on January 4th, 2012 at 5:08 pm
I’m thinking Clyde and Petra sound about right to come into fashion.
Also, my grandmothers’ names are Etta and Iva.
on January 4th, 2012 at 7:03 pm
I have a great Aunt named Leolar and I cant see that or Leola coming back, I can see her sister’s names Etta, Betty, Vennie (my grandmother) and maybe Hester coming back though. Great list!
on January 4th, 2012 at 8:23 pm
My hubby and I each had Grannys born in 1912: Evelyn & Lila both on the top 100 list. I find many of the boy’s and girl’s names from the 1912 top 100 charming but can’t see many of the less popular ones coming back in any big way. I have met some little ones with a few of these names though: Ophelia and Lucille come to mind.
on January 4th, 2012 at 8:35 pm
A lot of these are fabulous (Flossie, Garnet, Estelle, Lucille, Matilda, petra) but I can defintely see a little Vada being made fun of as Darth Vada
on January 4th, 2012 at 8:52 pm
I think Alma, Elsie, Enid, Etta, Estelle, Gertrude (Gertie), Hester and Ophelia all have potential to be popular. And for boys Clyde, Floyd and Wilson could be popular due to the last name as a first name trend. Also Otto with its trendy “O” ending.
I can see dark horses Lilla, Nola, Thora, and Zella making comebacks. Especially Lilla which is very pretty.
on January 4th, 2012 at 9:00 pm
I really loved some of these names, and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many family names on there! My grandmothers are Estelle and Gladys (both in early 80s). My grandfathers were Clyde and Clifford. My great-grandmother was named Flossie, and I have great-aunts named Alta and Mozelle. I guess my great-great-grandmother was one trendy lady. 🙂
OH, and my current “baby” (aka my dog) is a beagle named Fritz.
on January 4th, 2012 at 9:05 pm
The first list feels almost average to me, as I’m so accustomed to seeing those names on the message boards. The second list feels more adventurous, and I particularly love Ophelia, Hiram, and Lemuel. I’m currently writing a story set around 1912, and one of the funnest things for me has been naming the characters (of course). Many of my characters’ names can be found on this list, especially the nickname names list.
The dark horse list is intriguing. I’ve really started loving Thora lately, and have started to seriously consider Murphy as a middle name. Murphy is an old family name and I love the energy it has. Interesting you included Mozelle, because the name appears on my family tree and I’ve never seen it anywhere else.
on January 4th, 2012 at 10:22 pm
My great-grandparents and grandmother worked for Harold Comfort, who owned RCA/Borden and was the son of the original Elsie. Mr C owned a lovely brick house in Greenwich, Connecticut with a beautiful sunken rose garden that was my great-grandfather’s prize. Both my great-grandmother and grandmother were the head cooks in their turn….Mr C had all the operas recorded by RCA and used to let me listen to them on his stereo in the living room, even though as the cook’s granddaughter I wasn’t usually allowed in the non-servants part of the house.
I think the names I would and could use from these lists would be: Winifred, Maud, Mildred,and Enid; Giles, Waldo, Abner, and Gilbert.
on January 4th, 2012 at 10:58 pm
Bring back Melba and Enid both such sweet names with cool connections (Dame Nellie Melba opera singer and Enid Blyton author).
Also my cousins name is Adela so I think that should be on the list (Adele with an A instead of an E)
on January 4th, 2012 at 11:01 pm
Oh may I also add that Adela and Adele have lots of misspellings on my cousins birth cards like: Edela, Edel, Edele, Adel, Adella, Addella, Addela, Adell, Addelle, Adeline (they thought adela was a nn)
on January 5th, 2012 at 11:56 am
Ha, a close friend was given the name Zelma by her aunt who insisted she have a “real” name ahead of Angel, which her mother chose. She’s in her early 30s and I cannot believe she hasn’t had it legally changed yet ’cause she absolutely hates it, and God help anyone who accidentally calls her Zelma instead of Angel, lol.
There are some names on this list I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (Beulah, Gladys, Horace, Mortimer), but the bulk of them would seem a nice change from all the Madison/Mackenzie/Makayla, Caden/Jaden silliness that currently abounds.
on January 5th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
I adore “Olin” and am so surprised it is considered so “out there” given the popularity of Owen, Nolan, etc.
on January 5th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
How cool to see my youngest daughter’s name made the dark horse list. We spell her name under the alternate spelling (Lillah rather than Lilla) and we get so many compliments on her name wherever we go. I actually stumbled on it at another naming site, and then again while browsing the ssa list. It hasn’t been used commonly since the 1920s. Love it.
I also adore Muriel (couldn’t get the hobby on board for that one last go around though!) and Edwin. I have an uncle named Lemuel, so that one doesn’t seem all that odd to me, but I do really like it.
on January 6th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
I have loved names like Amelia, Eloise and Evelyn for years, but now they are picking up too much attention.
Percy is my first choice for a boy. I was going to go with Percival, but I love Percy so much more.
These names, most of them at least, sound completely normal in this day and age.
I do adore Clarence and Gertrude so I hope they make a come back 🙂
on February 26th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
Petra is virtually guaranteed to skyrocket in the next decade. For sure. Verona also seems to be due for a popularity spike. Thora probably will too, along with Nora, Cora, Dora and Flora. Nola also could be a Nora alternative when people tire of it – as they probably will – and Lilla will take the place of Lily and Lila. Murphy – surname-names are so popular now that Murphy could slide in quite nicely along with Mason and the like.
on June 9th, 2012 at 12:21 am
I know a lot of people say Elmer will never come back, but I think it is super cute!! I actually saw a little boy named Elmer at the airport and I thought it was adorable on him. Well I am also biased because my son’s name is Delmer after his Great Grandpa. I love the name to. Some people give strange looks about it, but many say they love it.
I think a lot of these names are super awesome. There are a few I don’t like so much, but I am sure if I met a cute little human with one of these names I would begin to love it.
I can also see Clarence and Mortimer coming back.
on June 9th, 2012 at 12:22 am
This is an amazing list by the way!
on June 18th, 2012 at 5:41 pm
I love this list, though I know more Lorenzos than any up there for boys’ names.
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