The Rise & Fall of Uldine

uldine utley, 1926, baby name
Uldine Utley in 1926 (from her magazine)

Have any 20th-century Uldines in your family tree? If so, there’s a good chance that your Uldine was named after pint-sized preacher Uldine Mabelle Utley.

Uldine Utley was born in Oklahoma in 1912, spent much of her youth in Colorado, and then moved with her family to California — where she first encountered Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, in 1921. Not long after witnessing Aimee preach, Uldine decided to begin her own preaching career.

By the mid-1920s, Uldine was one of America’s best-known child evangelists. She drew a crowd of 14,000 when she preached at Madison Square Garden at the age of 14, for instance. She even put out her own monthly magazine called Petals from the Rose of Sharon.

And when Uldine Utley was most popular — from the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s — the usage of the rare baby name Uldine was at its highest, according to both the birth name data and the death name data (SSDI) from the Social Security Administration.

Year Uldine usage, birth data Uldine usage, death data
1939
1938
1937
1936
1935
1934
1933
1932
1931
1930
(under 5)
(under 5)
10 baby girls named Uldine
(under 5)
6 baby girls named Uldine
6 baby girls named Uldine
10 baby girls named Uldine
10 baby girls named Uldine
21 baby girls named Uldine
20 baby girls named Uldine
2 Uldines
2 Uldines
5 Uldines
1 Uldines
3 Uldines
3 Uldines
6 Uldines
6 Uldines
9 Uldines
8 Uldines
1929
1928
1927
1926
1925
1924
1923
1922
1921
1920
16 baby girls named Uldine
19 baby girls named Uldine
36 baby girls named Uldine [peak]
30 baby girls named Uldine
27 baby girls named Uldine
12 baby girls named Uldine
(under 5)
(under 5)
(under 5)
5 baby girls named Uldine [debut]
5 Uldines
10 Uldines
19 Uldines
19 Uldines
26 Uldines [peak]
9 Uldines
0 Uldines
2 Uldines
3 Uldines
4 Uldines

Uldine Utley kept up an intense preaching schedule until the end of 1936, when she suffered a nervous breakdown. She recovered temporarily, and even had a brief marriage, but spent most of the rest of her life in institutions or under family care.

Are you related to anyone named Uldine? What are your thoughts on the name? Any guesses about the name’s derivation?

Sources:

Image: Petals from the Rose of Sharon (pdf), November 1926.


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