The Baby Name Etan

Etan Patz has been in the news lately. He’s the 6-year-old New York City boy who went missing in on May 25, 1979, while walking to the bus stop. The nation — especially New York — was shocked by his disappearance.

Even before cases of missing children routinely garnered national media attention, Etan’s case quickly received a lot of coverage. His father, a professional photographer, disseminated black-and-white photographs of Etan in an effort to find him. The massive search and media attention that followed focused the nation’s attention on the problem of child abduction and lack of plans to address it.

Etan PatzIn 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared May 25 National Missing Children’s Day.

In the years following the incident, usage of the name Etan (a form of Ethan) increased slightly, both nationally and in New York specifically:

Year U.S. number New York number
1978 5 [under 5]
1979 7 [under 5]
1980 6 [under 5]
1981 13 5
1982 15 7
1983 19 6
1984 7 [under 5]
1985 11 7
1986 7 [under 5]

The name only appeared on the New York list those four years (1981-1983, 1985). It’s never shown up on any other state list.

Source: Hancock, Crystal D. “National Observance Calls Attention to Plight of Missing Children.” Nevada Daily Mail May 27 2007: 1.


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