Road Trip Roundup: Calamity Jane

American frontierswoman Martha “Calamity” Jane Burke (née Canary) (1852-1903) is buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Calamity Jane grave

She was given the nickname Calamity in the early 1870s.

Seeing her grave reminded me that I’d come across a handful U.S. women named “Calamity Jane” or “Calamity J,” most born in the mid-1950s. Also that I’d seen the name Calamity pop up on the SSA’s list twice that decade:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 8 baby girls named Calamity
  • 1956: 11 baby girls named Calamity [debut]
  • 1955: unlisted

The cause? At first I thought it was the 1953 movie Calamity Jane, but I couldn’t explain that gap between the movie’s release and the name’s rise in usage.

calamity, buffalo bill jr, 1950s, television

Then I discovered the short-lived TV show Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955–1956), which featured a 12-year-old tomboy character named after the historical Calamity Jane (just as her older brother was named after the historical Buffalo Bill).

[What’s this road trip all about?]

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