- 1961: 28,668 baby girls named Donna [ranked 7th]
- 1960: 34,132 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th]
- 1959: 36,465 baby girls named Donna [ranked 5th] – peak usage
- 1958: 26,949 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]
- 1957: 28,039 baby girls named Donna [ranked 10th]
Why the rise?
I think the primary reason was the song “Donna” by California teenager Ritchie Valens. It was released in December of 1958 and became Valens’ highest-charting single, reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in February of 1959.
Valens was born Richard Steven Valenzuela in Pacoima, California, in 1941. He’d written “Donna” as a tribute to his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig. (They’d stopped dating about year before the song was released.)
A secondary influence on the name Donna might have been The Donna Reed Show, which began airing in September of 1958 — though the show didn’t achieve peak popularity until the early 1960s. It featured already-famous actress Donna Reed as fictional middle-class housewife Donna Stone.
Do you like the name Donna? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?