The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet

The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989

While doing some name research recently, I noticed a whole bunch of typos like “Christop” and “Alexandr” among the top 1,000 U.S. baby names of 1989.

I figured all the typos must be coming from a single source, so I checked the SSA’s state-by-state data, starting with the larger states. Didn’t see anything in California, didn’t see anything in Texas…but then I checked New York, and there they were:

Typo# in U.S.# in NY% in NY
Christop (m)1,0821,082100%
Christin (f)92649954%
Stephani (f)63648977%
Elizabet (f)44541994%
Alexandr (f)301301100%
Alexande (m)30129999%
Katherin (f)27724890%

A few of the above may not be typos, but the fact that so many are concentrated in a single place suggests that most are.

Given the time period and consistent truncation, my guess is that one of the counties in New York started using a computer system in 1989 that only allowed the input of up to 8 characters per name.

Now the big question: Did this glitch skew the national baby name rankings?

Yes, but only for Alexandra:

Name(s)# in U.S.Rank in U.S.
Alexandra (f)7,67943rd (old)
Alexandra (f) + Alexandr (f)7,98041st (new)

All 301 of the baby girls named Alexandr were born in New York, so it’s likely that all of them are typos. If we add these 301 to the total for Alexandra, the new number nudges Alexandra up two spots to #41. (This would bump the names Brittney and Hannah down one spot each.)

UPDATE, April 2020: I scanned all of the SSA’s data for 1989 and found even more typos:

Typo# in U.S.# in NY% in NY
Jacqueli (f)157157100%
Cassandr (f)152152100%
Christia (m)828098%
Jacquely (f)504794%
Kristoph (m)4444100%
Johnatha (m)343191%
Anastasi (f)222091%
Francesc (f)1919100%
Dominiqu (f)1515100%
Nicolett (f)151280%
Annemari (f)141393%
Kassandr (f)1313100%
Johnatho (m)1212100%
Mackenzi (m)11982%
Sebastia (m)1111100%
Bernadet (f)99100%
Demetriu (m)99100%
Geneviev (f)99100%
Kristofe (m)99100%
Alejandr (m)8675%
Antoinet (f)88100%
Cassondr (f)88100%
Constanc (f)88100%
Francisc (m)8788%
Priscill (f)77100%
Annamari (f)66100%
Angeliqu (f)55100%
Francesc (m)55100%

Many of the above were one-hit wonders, which makes sense.

P.S. Here are two more glitches I’ve found since writing this post: the Korea/Kansas glitch and the Essfa glitch.

12 thoughts on “The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet

  1. I think you are completely wrong about the name Aleksandr. This is the Russian spelling of the name. And the fact that it is found in NY area , where the largest Russian community in US is located and started in 1989 , when the third wave of emigration from the Soviet Union began, only supports that theory.

  2. This is fascinating!!! I am doing an analysis on baby names and found this glitch with the name “Christin.” Thanks for writing this up!!

  3. Some of those Alexandrs could’ve been Alexandria, too. That was also a pretty popular name in 1989. Let’s just say that 200 were Alexandra and 100 Alexandria… Alexandra would still get bumped up two spots and Alexandria would get bumped up three!

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