Two Babies Named Ivernia

The British ocean liner SS Ivernia (1899-1917) made many voyages between Europe and North America during the early 1900s. Various babies were born on board during these years, and at least two of these babies were given names to honor the ship.

The first was born in May of 1906, while the Ivernia was sailing from Liverpool to Boston. A Polish passenger (“Mrs. Micholius Pacer”) welcomed a baby girl named Pauline Ivernia Pacer.

ivernia, baby, news, 1906

The second was born in April of 1914, when the Ivernia was sailing from Naples to New York City. A Hungarian passenger (“Mrs. Sandor Szentkiraly”) welcomed a baby girl named Gazilla Ivernia Szentkiraly.

The word “Ivernia” is a version of the geographical term “Hibernia,” which was used by ancient Greek and Roman writers to refer to the island of Ireland.

Sources:

  • “Ivernia Met Fogs and Gales.” Boston Evening Transcript 11 May 1906: 3.
  • “Two Babies Born on Ship.” New York Times 27 Apr. 1914.

The Emergence of Jemal

The baby name Jemal debuted in the US baby name data in 1968.

The name Jemal debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1968:

  • 1972: 24 baby boys named Jemal
  • 1971: 30 baby boys named Jemal
  • 1970: 52 baby boys named Jemal
  • 1969: 204 baby boys named Jemal [rank: 549th]
  • 1968: 47 baby boys named Jemal [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted

In fact, it was the top debut name of 1968. The next year, it became one of the highest-hitting one-hit wonders in the top 1,000 — the very highest for boys, if you ignore the glitch-name Christop.

So what was the influence?

Jemal David, an African-American character played by actor Otis Young on the single-season TV western The Outcasts (1968-1969).

The series was set in the decade following the Civil War, when “people of all creeds and colors were part of the West” (according to the narrated introduction). The two protagonists, both bounty hunters, were an unlikely pair: Jemal, an ex-slave freed by the Proclamation, and Earl Corey, a former slave owner from Virginia.

Young’s Jemal David was possibly television’s angriest African American protagonist; a defiant man who refused to forget the indignities and humiliations of slavery. He also never let his partner’s racism go unchallenged.

There was even an episode called “My name is Jemal” that drew extra attention to the name:

my name is jemal, the outsiders, television, 1960s

The similar name Jamal also saw a big boost in usage thanks to the character. But, unlike Jemal, which quickly petered out, Jamal’s usage continued to increase for several decades.

What are your thoughts on the name Jemal? Which spelling do you prefer?

Sources:

  • Bogle, Donald. Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
  • The Outcasts (TV series) – Wikipedia
  • Terrace, Vincent. Television Introductions: Narrated TV Program Openings since 1949. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2014.

Popular Baby Names in Alaska, 2017

According to Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and James.

Here are Alaska’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Aurora
4. Isabella
5. Evelyn and Sophia (tied)

Boy Names
1. James
2. Liam
3. William and Wyatt (tied)
4. Noah and Oliver (tied)
5. Logan

In the girls’ top 5, Isabella and Evelyn replace Amelia, Charlotte, and Abigail.

In the boys’ top 5, Wyatt and Noah replace Joseph.

Alaska is the only state in which fast-rising Aurora is a top-5 baby name. (Aurora is also popular in Italy.)

Source: Alaska Vital Statistics – 2017 Annual Report

Mystery Monday: Shurla

The baby name Shurla was an impressive one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1961:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 17 baby girls named Shurla [debut]
  • 1960: unlisted
  • 1959: unlisted

Where did it come from? I haven’t been able to figure that out yet.

The name Shirley, which had been extremely popular in the 1930s, was trending downward by the 1960s. The sound-alike names Sherla or Shirla did not see a uptick in usage in 1961. And the somewhat similar name Shirelle, though it debuted the same year (thanks to girl-group The Shirelles), is probably not the cause.

Vital records indicate that the 1961 Shurlas were born in various places in the U.S., so they weren’t clustered in a specific region. (Here are two of them: one from Missouri, the other from Maryland originally but buried in Kansas.)

Do you have any idea where this one might have come from? (News? Television?)

Name Poll: Girl Names from 1941

girls, 18, radio station
Six 18-year-old women from Omaha, 1941

Omaha’s WOW radio station went on the air on April 2, 1923. The day it turned 18, the station threw a party and invited six teenage girls who were born in Omaha on the very same day.

The young lassies shown toasting WOW with a glass of punch and a piece of birthday cake are, left to right: Blanche Zaloudek, Roslyn Levy, Jacqueline Giles, Helen Rummelhart, Elaine Kinzli, and De Lorse McCarty.

My guess is that “De Lorse” is a variant of Delores, which was trendy in the 1920s.

Which name do you like best?

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The cool call letters “WOW” were a reference to Omaha’s Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, which owned the radio station.

Source: “”Sextuplets” Guests at Radio WOW Birthday Part.” Radio News Tower [Omaha, Nebraska] 1 May 1941: 1.