Stalin’s Daughter Influences U.S. Baby Names

Svetlana and Stalin
Svetlana and Stalin
The Russian name Svetlana, which is derived from the Slavic word svet, meaning “light,” debuted on the U.S. baby name list in 1967:

  • 1970: 8 baby girls named Svetlana
  • 1969: unlisted
  • 1968: 11 baby girls named Svetlana
  • 1967: 10 baby girls named Svetlana [debut]
  • 1966: unlisted

This was the year that Josef Stalin’s only daughter, Svetlana, defected to the United States.

Her defection from the Soviet Union, which attracted worldwide attention, was the most high-profile since Rudolf Nureyev’s defection in 1961.

Weirdly, her name also led her to a marriage several years later:

The widow of Frank Lloyd Wright, the great architect, invited Svetlana to stay with her. She herself had had a daughter Svetlana, killed in a car crash. She felt a mystical connection to this new and famous Svetlana. Her own Svetlana had been married to Wesley Peters, the architect’s senior apprentice. Mrs. Wright wanted the new Svetlana to meet Peters and like him. She did. They were married in three weeks.

The marriage only lasted 20 months, though.

What do you think of the name Svetlana?

Source: Stalin’s Daughter, Her Own Woman

Update, 8/9/16: Though I don’t have data to back it up, TIME says “thousands” of babies in Russia were named after Svetlana:

Svetlana Stalina, the daughter of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was born on February 28, 1926. Though brutal to the Russian public, Stalin was said to fawn over his daughter; she became a celebrity on the order of Shirley Temple in Russia, with thousands of babies named in her honor.

Source: Stalin’s Daughter Lana Peters – Time

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