The Story of Doria

The baby name name Doria has peaked in usage twice so far. The second spike happened in 1971, the year of Tropical Storm Doria (which ended up being the costliest storm of the season). But the first spike, which was more subtle, happened in 1957:

  • 1959: 29 baby girls named Doria
  • 1958: 31 baby girls named Doria
  • 1957: 37 baby girls named Doria
  • 1956: 27 baby girls named Doria
  • 1955: 24 baby girls named Doria

What’s behind the first spike?

I think it’s same thing that was behind the sudden jump in usage of the name Andrea* a year earlier:

  • 1958: 3,241 baby girls (and 65 baby boys) named Andrea
  • 1957: 3,369 baby girls (and 67 baby boys) named Andrea
  • 1956: 3,394 baby girls (and 62 baby boys) named Andrea
  • 1955: 2,764 baby girls (and 31 baby boys) named Andrea
  • 1954: 2,721 baby girls (and 26 baby boys) named Andrea

On the night of July 25-26, 1956 — exactly sixty-three years ago — the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria sank just off the east coast of America.

The Andrea Doria — said to be “unsinkable” (like the Titanic) — had been known for its luxury. It featured theaters, dance floors, card-rooms, lounges, and three outdoor swimming pools (one per passenger class). Since its maiden voyage in 1953, it regularly made trips across the Atlantic.

On the final night of one such trip from Italy to New York, the Andrea Doria was sailing through thick fog 50 miles south of Nantucket. Just past 11 pm, the Doria‘s starboard side was suddenly pierced by the ice-breaking prow of a smaller passenger ship called the MS Stockholm (which had left New York at mid-day and was en route to Sweden). The collision resulted in the deaths of 51 people — 46 of them Andrea Doria passengers.

Within a few minutes of the crash, the Doria had taken on so much water that it was listing more than 20 degrees to starboard. Evacuations began and, over the course of the night, the still-seaworthy Stockholm and other nearby ships came to the rescue of the remaining passengers and crew (a total of 1,660 people).

Early the next morning, East Coast newsmen in airplanes visited the crippled Doria. They took photographs and got video footage of the ship’s final moments. (It began sinking in earnest at 9:45 am, and disappeared from view under the water at 10:09 am.)

The video footage was broadcast on TV news shows later the same day, making the sinking of the Andrea Doria one of the very first televised tragedies.

The next day, photos of the doomed Doria were on the front pages of newspapers nation-wide. A few weeks later, more Doria shots ran in a photo-essay and on the cover of Life magazine. The most famous Doria photos were the Pulitzer-winning ones taken by Harry A. Trask.

All this media exposure drew attention to the two names “Andrea” and “Doria,” which in turn gave boost to the usage of both names, which is what we saw in the data above.

The ship had been named for 16th-century Italian admiral Andrea Doria, a member of the wealthy Genoese Doria (D’Oria, De Auria) family. The family traces its lineage back to a woman named Auria.

What do you think of the name Doria? Do you like it more or less than the name Andrea?

Sources:

Image: Screenshot from A Welcome Guest in the House

*Dozens of the baby girls named Andrea during the second half of 1956 got the middle name Doria. Here’s one example from Idaho.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.