The Debut of Donaldine

donaldine, baby name, 1922, newsThe American news is currently dominated by the name Donald, so I thought now would be a good time to talk about one of Donald’s feminized forms, Donaldine, which was not just a one-hit wonder in 1922, but the top one-hit wonder of 1922.

  • 1924: unlisted
  • 1923: unlisted
  • 1922: 12 baby girls named Donaldine
  • 1921: unlisted
  • 1920: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A Stanford co-ed named Donaldine Cameron, whose photo ran in the newspapers twice during the first half of the year.

The first time was in February, after Donaldine was declared the prettiest girl at Stanford:

Searching out the most beautiful girls on the Pacific coast finds Miss Donaldine Cameron getting the unanimous vote at Stanford University where she has been starring in amateur collegiate theatricals.

(Some of the plays she was in: “Wedding Bells,” “Charm School,” “Maid to Order.”)

The second time was in May, when Donaldine’s opinion that college boys spent too much money on girls somehow became the topic of an entire article:

“They have enough to do in carrying themselves through college without being burdened by extravagances. It’s up to the men to cut out their foolish spending.”

(The expenditures listed in the article: dances, movies, ice cream sodas.)

Donaldine graduated from Stanford in 1923 and, later the same year, married U.S. Navy officer Frank Pinckney Helm.

Donaldine’s father was named Donald, so no doubt she was named in honor of him. That said…around the time she was born (1902), and in the same region of California, there was a relatively famous missionary named Donaldina Cameron (often called “Donaldine” in the papers) who was helping female Chinese immigrants escape forced prostitution. I think it’s possible that the missionary was a secondary influence on the name (though I have no way to confirm this).

What are your thoughts on the baby name Donaldine?

Sources:

One thought on “The Debut of Donaldine

  1. I was intrigued by the similar last names so I went googling, but seems there is no close connection.

    Donaldine Cameron seems most assuredly named for her father, Donald Flower Cameron, as she was born in May of 1902 and he died in April of 1902. His father was Robert Alexander Cameron, a brigadier general for the Union Army during the Civil War who was born in New York and settled in Colorado.

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/35704099/donald-flower-cameron

    Random chance for the same last name??

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