Mystery Monday: Elwanda

Ready for another baby name mystery? I present to you Elwanda, which saw a sharp increase in usage in 1921:

  • 1923: 54 baby girls named Elwanda
    • 61% in 4 states: 14 TX, 7 WV, 6 AR, 6 KY
  • 1922: 85 baby girls named Elwanda [rank: 791st]
    • 66% in 5 states: 17 TX, 15 AR, 8 MO, 8 TN, 6 OK
  • 1921: 98 baby girls named Elwanda [rank: 739th]
    • 72% in 6 states: 25 TX, 18 AR, 9 OK, 7 MO, 6 KY, 6 WV
  • 1920: 5 baby girls named Elwanda [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

So far, I can’t explain that spike (which was the steepest rise overall that year). But I can tell you that most of that 1921 usage took place in an interesting grouping of Southern states:

On the one hand, higher usage of Wanda-based names in the early 1920s makes sense because that’s when name Wanda itself was very trendy. (Wanda entered the top 100 in 1922.)

On the other hand, when you compare the usage of Elwanda to that of the other Wanda-variants (like Wandalee and Lawanda), it’s clear that something else must have happened in Elwanda’s case for the rise to be that steep — not to mention so regionally specific.

Any ideas about what influenced Elwanda?

P.S. Other names that saw movement during the 1920s were influenced by things like movies, music (but not radio), literature (particularly serialized stories), and news stories.

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