Women’s History Month Names: Movers and shakers with off-the-grid names

For Women’s History Month, we honor some of the army of activist heroes who have fought the struggle for women’s rights over the years. Rather than focusing on the more familiar names, from Susan B. Anthony to Gloria Steinem, we look to some lesser-known (with a couple of exceptions) American and British champions of gender equality. And of course, Nameberry being Nameberry, we’ve picked the ones with the most distinctive names.


One of the best known early women’s rights activists, Quaker Lucretia Mott was born in 1793, her activism sparked on discovering that her male teaching colleagues were paid three times as much as the women. A founder of Swarthmore College, she mentored Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The dainty and pretty name Lucretia is an old Roman appellation that had a long run on the US charts and is ripe for a return.

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20 Responses to “Women’s History Month Names: Movers and shakers with off-the-grid names”

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freddiethepink Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 6:37 am

You have twice written Sophiobisba instead of Sophonisba!

I’ve always had a soft spot for Inez. Marilla is quite pretty and Voltairine is amazing!!

I can never get behind Lucretia, it reminds me of secretions 🙁

freddiethepink Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 6:38 am

Sorry I made a typo whilst pointing out your typo!! Sophobisba* (instead of Sophonisba)

lawsonhaley Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 8:17 am

Marilla, Leonora, Bethenia and Christabel are so lovely 🙂 Nellie is another one from Canada who is quite famous.

lawsonhaley Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 8:17 am

Marilla, Leonora, Bethenia and Christabel are so lovely 🙂 Nellie is another one from Canada who is quite famous.

rjop88 Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 8:58 am

To echo freddiethepink, SophoNisba P. Breckinridge only had one b! I lived in a dorm named after her in college and we celebrated “Sophie Day” – a great list of ladies!

LuMary Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 9:02 am

I love the vintage photos! Nameberry does a great job with visuals.

What helped me to appreciate Susan is to view it objectively, as the vintage name that it is, rather than another mundane, midcentury, moniker.

Cady is a possibility for a girl, no doubt to be confused with Katie, though.

Mischa Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 10:12 am

I couldn’t help but notice the underlying moral of this blog: having a feminine name doesn’t make a woman weak. A strong woman doesn’t need a boys name to make an important impact on the world. Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t see a boys name in sight and I found that fact quite refreshing. 🙂

I love Leonora as well as Inez (although I do prefer Ines spelled with an “s”).

spotlightstarlit Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Great choice of topic!

To offer a small bio on Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she opposed the social segregation of women in the church and the stereotypical interpretations of Biblical women. She wrote The Women’s Bible, which interpreted scripture as egalitarian, something we feminist theologians believe to be inherit in the will and nature of God. As evidenced by this blog post her work, though perhaps not her name, was original and impactful.

namesage Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 11:12 am

Great blog! Most of these are wonderful names, that are not quite right for me, but that I would love to see someone else use! I have always really liked Inez, though, and now I love it! And now reading this, I suddenly like Marilla which I’ve never paid that much attention to. (Even though whenever I look at it written my brain wants to pronounce it Maria.) I have always liked Mara/Marra and I think this would make a great full name for it. It’s going on The List!

findemaxa13 Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Marilla is the only one I love–I think of Anne of Green Gables. Inez is okay, much better than Agnes.

iolite Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 11:51 am

I love Christabel, and all the other names Emmeline Pankhurst gave her children, which were Sylvia, Adela, Henry and Francis. I also really love Leonora.

maggiemary Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

I love Bethenia, Christabel, Clementina and Leonora.

Alva, Inez, Lucretia and Marilla are charming too.

I much prefer Harriet to the Harriot spelling.

miloowen Says:

March 7th, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Lucretia is quite a common name among my African American students and it’s a name I quite like. I also like Christabel, because I discovered it in an old children’s story of Rumer Godden’s called “The Fairy Doll.” I prefer Agnes to Ines and I do like Winifred. The author Winifred Holtby, along with her great friend Vera Brittain, were likewise prominent writers in the suffrage movement in the UK. Clementina was also the name of the Polish princess that James II married, forcing him off the throne.

Wasn’t Sophronia one of the Five Little Peppers?

Good point, Mischa, my friend. I completely agree.

Livi Says:

March 8th, 2014 at 2:42 pm

I’m intrigued by Voltairine and I actually quite like it! I wouldn’t have the guts to use it in real life, though.

DrHenry Says:

March 8th, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Love Marilla! I also thought of Anne of green gables. I don’t usually like really frilly or long names for girls but I’m loving Marilla. And this reference makes me love it even more. Alva is also fantastic! Not a fan if chrirtabel at all. I love Agnes but Inez I can’t get behind. I have a friend who recently named their daughter Ines and it’s constantly mispronounced.

mallowd Says:

March 8th, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I think the only two id consider for myself is marilla and leonora. I like inez but know a girl named that (and goes by nez). Alva is nice too. Id love to see these on a little girl tho! Such inspiration behind the name!

sarishah Says:

March 9th, 2014 at 12:08 am

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were objectively terrible people who threw African Americans under the bus for white (preferably upper-class) women’s rights, so not seeing their names on this list is nice. I’d add Florynce (Kennedy) and Ida (B. Wells).

tori101 Says:

March 10th, 2014 at 5:03 pm

My favourites:

: )

ilovenames89 Says:

July 9th, 2015 at 5:43 pm

i love Inez but i’m bias it’s my middle name.

Bobcat108 Says:

February 16th, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Let us not forget that the abolitionist movement threw *all* women under the bus in favor of gaining the vote for African-American men.

Of the names mentioned here, I’m not sure I’d have used any in my naming days as my ex never would have been on board (except for Susan, ironically). But I do have a very soft spot for Christabel as it’s the name of the heroine from Anton Meyer’s The Last Convertible. Bethenia is quite intriguing…I hadn’t heard of it before.

And I agree w/Mischa’s comment above!

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