The Mysterious Baby Name LaQuita

mystery baby name, laquita, 1930

When the popularity of a particular baby name spikes, there’s always an explanation.

Most of the time, the explanation isn’t hard to come up with. Hundreds of baby girls were named Rhiannon after Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon was released in 1976, dozens of baby boys were named Rambo after the Rambo movies started coming out in the early 1980s, and so forth.

Sometimes, the explanation isn’t as conspicuous. I didn’t immediately see the connection between the name Aquanette and B-movie actress Burnu Acquanetta, for instance. Only after mulling it over for a while was I able to link the name Kasara to a long-forgotten Lisa Lisa song.

Today’s name belongs in that latter group. In fact, the explanation for today’s name is *so* inconspicuous that I haven’t been able to piece it together, even after months of trying.

So I’m giving up. I’m just going to post what I know and hope that some wise soul leaves a comment that helps me unravel the mystery. :)

The name is Laquita. (It’s often written LaQuita in obituaries.) It debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1930, coming out of nowhere to be given to an impressive 68 baby girls that year.

Now, the number 68 might seem trivial. Today’s most popular names are given to tens of thousands of babies each, after all. As far as newbie names go, though, 68 is huge. Especially when you’re talking about the early 20th century. Here’s some context:

  • Top debut names of 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 15
  • Top debut names of 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • Top debut names of 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • Top debut names of 1929: Jeannene, 26; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • Top debut names of 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • Top debut names of 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • Top debut names of 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • Top debut names of 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • Top debut names of 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9

Laquita jumped into the top 1,000 right away, ranking 874th. It remained there for the next three years.

Here’s a final fact that could be helpful: None of the 28 1930-Laquitas listed in the SSDI were born during the first four months of the year. The name starts to show up in May, with 3 Laquitas born that month. This may mean that a mid-year event triggered the spike.

Ideas?


19 thoughts on “The Mysterious Baby Name LaQuita

  1. It is a difficult one to pin down! It seems to have been first used in the early 20th C; I’ve found a couple in the 1910 Census. I’ve tried all the usual suspects of film, fiction, etc and drawn a blank. It strikes me that the cause must be down to the name appearing in a newspaper or magazine — but which, I don’t know, nor why. The earliest date I’ve found in the free online newspaper archives is 1944. Good luck with your hunt!

  2. Have been doing some more thinking. I have come across one possible cause of the spike — a Joy Laquita Collier died in Florida in 1930. I can’t find an obituary — though have not had time to look into it in depth, but if there was one, it might have planted the name in soon-to-be parents minds. There do seem to be a number of Laquita Joys about.

    There’s always the chance it’s just a bit of a fluke — we are talking small numbers. The numbers of Laquita were growing from its first appearance, and the oldest were becoming young women in 1930. That’s often the way an unusual but attractive name spreads — the, Oh-I-met-a-lovely-girl/baby-called-X-and-though-‘that’s-a-pretty-name’ syndrome!

  3. Were any babies named Laquinta? I ask because a lot of the Google results seem to point to La Quinta, Calif. The La Quinta Resort & Club opened there in 1926 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Quinta_Resort_and_Club) — I can’t find a specific reference, but it was very popular with celebrities and could have easily figured in some kind of media event in 1930. Maybe Laquita is a place name?

  4. There could be a La Quinta connection, but something tells me that’s not it.

    “Laquinta” does show up on the SSA’s baby name list, it doesn’t pop up until much later — 1958 the first time, then a few times in the ’60s, and then 1970-2000. If there were a link, they’d have shown up around the same time.

    La Quinta is popping up mainly because Google likes to substitute obscure search terms with more common ones. You can take “La Quinta” out of the results by using minus signs:

    laquita -la -quinta

    That should clean things up a bit.

    BTW, variants of Laquita start appearing soon after 1930, if this helps anyone at all:

    1930: Laquita, 68
    1931: Laquita, 59; Lequita, 6
    1932: Laquita, 68; Laqueta, 6; Lequita, 6; Laquitta, 5
    1933: Laquita, 53; Laqueta, 10; Laquetta, 5; Lequita, 5
    etc.

  5. LaQuita most likely comes from LaQuinta.

    ‘La quinta’ means ‘The fifth’

    There was a college in Bartlesville Oklahoma named LaQuinta in 1930. If any of the earliest Laquitas was born near that area, that could be the reason.

  6. PS: That college was _built_ in 1930, and there are similarities to names like Latika / Lakita etc.

    (not sure if those names existed back then..)

  7. Of the 68 baby Laquitas, 15 were born in Oklahoma and 14 were born in Texas. So there *is* actually a connection to that area. (Thanks for making me look it up!)

    That said, though, the names Laquinta, Lakita and Lakeeta were not on the national list at all in 1930. So, whatever the influence, people really were focused on “Laquita” specifically.

  8. Just looking for info on my mother in law’s name.. Laquita Joy, born June ’31 Caucasian born Charleston WV. Grandma always told family that her name was that of a heroine in a book she’d long forgotten when I met her in the 1980s.

  9. Thank you for the information, John!

    It’s notable that she’s another “Laquita Joy.” So many LaQuitas have the middle name Joy (and Joyce)…there has to be something to that.

  10. My grandmother’s name was Betty Laquita. She told us her mother gave her the middle name Laquita after a character in a book she was reading at the time. She told us that the name meant “beautiful one” in spanish, but I am not certain that it does. I am trying to find out the name of the book, if anyone has any ideas!

  11. My mother name is Laquita from 1932. Her mother got it from a book everyone was reading at the time. They are a bunch of caucasian Laquita’s during that time period.

  12. My mother named me Laquita Joy when I was born in 1936 and said she had read the name in a book she had read while working on a ranch in New Mexico.

  13. I just met a Laquita yesterday! She was a little bewildered by how excited I was to learn her name, but gamely explained that her father was in the Navy and had encountered the name in his travels overseas, so when she was born in 1956 that was their family’s first name choice. That was as much info as she had — no info as to where overseas (he was stationed many places), or what the context was. I didn’t remember the bit about Joy being a usual middle-name accompaniment so I neglected to ask about that. (Her sister was named Treva.)

  14. Oh wow!

    Thank you for trying to get some intel. :)

    (I have definitely freaked people out before by getting excited over their names…)

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