What Did WWI Do for the Baby Name Liberty?

"Ring Me Again" Third Liberty Loan doorknob sign
Third Liberty Loan doorknob sign (Money Museum, Kansas City)
During World War I, the United States raised money for the war effort by selling Liberty Bonds to citizens.

The government offered a series of four Liberty Loans — two in 1917, two more in 1918.

“For Americans who were not inclined or able to enter into military service, fundraising offered an alternative demonstration of patriotism.”

A handful of parents took this patriotism even further by naming their babies Liberty.

How did this affect the overall popularity of the baby name Liberty?

The Baby Name Liberty
Liberty
(1918 spike)
  • 1919: 25 baby girls named Liberty
  • 1918: 150 baby girls, 14 baby boys named Liberty
  • 1917: 43 baby girls, 8 baby boys named Liberty
  • 1916: 6 baby girls, 7 baby boys named Liberty
  • 1915: (unlisted)
  • 1914: 7 baby girls named Liberty

Liberty became the 585th most popular baby girl name in 1918.

It wouldn’t enter the top 1,000 again until 1976, the year of the U.S. Bicentennial.

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Families with the surname Bond must have been especially tempted to name their babies Liberty in 1917 and 1918.

I’ve found records for several babies named Liberty Bond, such as Liberty Lois Bond (b. 1917, California) and Liberty C. Bond (b. 1918, Michigan).

A baby girl who ended up with the name Liberty was born to Wallace and Jenny Bond of Oklahoma in 1917:

Named “Flossie Mae” at birth, her name was changed to “Liberty” when a relative told her father that she would buy Liberty Bonds in her name if he would make the switch. (She resented the name until she got a copy of her birth certificate decades later and learned that she otherwise would have gone through life as Flossie Mae.)

In the early 1950s, Ed Sullivan wrote that actor Ridge Bond had a cousin, born during the first World War, named Liberty Bond. “She married Frank Bell, and her name became Liberty Bell.”

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Liberty Bond was also used more than once as a first-middle combination.

For instance, a baby named Liberty Bond Bailey, born in New York in 1918, made national headlines:

News comes from Ithaca, N.Y., that a real, live “Liberty Bond,” weighing nine pounds, arrived in that city on the morning of April 6, simultaneously with the opening of the loan drive and the anniversary of our entrance into the great war. It wasn’t of the accustomed variety, however, but a lusty, named “Liberty Bond” Bailey by his patriotic parents, Mr. and Mrs. Howard C. Bailey of 614 Utica Street. The boy’s parents were so elated by the triple significance of the day that they named the new arrival in honor of the great bond drive.

According to his wife, his name was the doctor’s idea:

“The doctor mentioned it to his mother about the bonds and as he handed (the baby) over, he said, ‘Here’s your liberty bond’,” Garetta Bailey said. “So, she named him Liberty Bond.”

And I’ve found another Liberty Bond Bailey, believe it or not, born almost exactly a year earlier in Oklahoma.

A 1918 newspaper reported that a baby boy born to Mr. and Mrs. Alex Sleime of West Virginia was named Liberty Bond.

Records suggest that around 8 other babies were also named “Liberty Bond,” including Liberty Bond Todd (b. 1917, Texas) and Liberty Bond Jones (b. 1918, North Carolina).

P.S. Another first-middle combination I spotted a handful of times was “Liberty Loan.” One example: Liberty Loan Hickman, born in Texas in 1917.

Sources:


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