The similar names Arbadella and Arbedella both debuted in the SSA baby name data in 1936, and both saw peak usage the following year:
8 baby girls
7 baby girls
12 baby girls
5 baby girls
33 baby girls [peak]
9 baby girls [peak]
6 baby girls [debut]
6 baby girls [debut]
What was the influence?
The radio serial Amos & Andy — one of the very first situation comedies. The initial version of the show (1928-1943) aired for 15 minutes, five days per week, and was the most popular radio program in the nation in the late 1920’s and early 30’s. In fact, the show’s “popularity ensured the success of radio broadcasting as a form of mass entertainment.”
The show “was based on the model of minstrel shows, [and] thus based on racial stereotypes.” The main characters — African-American men named Amos Jones and Andy Brown — were played by white radio performers Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll.
In an episode that aired during October of 1936, Amos and his wife Ruby welcomed their first child, a baby girl. The baby wasn’t named right away — instead, the show’s sponsor, Pepsodent Tooth Paste, held a baby-naming contest.
The contest was advertised in newspapers nationwide. The ads noted that the judges would consider “originality, uniqueness, and suitability” when making their decision, and also offered some name-choosing prompts, such as:
“…you might think “Amanda” would be a suitable name because it contains so many of the letters of both “Amos” and “Andy.””
“…remember, too, the baby’s maternal grandmother is named Lillian.”
Thousands of prizes were offered, including a $5,000 grand prize. Here’s the full list (and what the prizes would be worth in today’s dollars):
1st: $5,000 in baby bonds (equivalent to $92,183.93 in 2020)
2nd: $1,000 in baby bonds ($18,436.79)
3rd: $100 baby bond to each of 10 winners ($1,843.68)
4th: $50 baby bond to each of 100 winners ($921.84)
5th: $25 baby bond to each of 720 winners ($460.92)
6th: $2 cash to each of 2000 winners ($36.87)
The contest closed in mid-November. The winning name, Arbadella — suggested by Mrs. Joseph L. Smith of Ohio — was announced in mid-December. (The second-place name, Ladicia Ann, was suggested by 12-year-old Indiana boy Urcel D. Miller.)
The late-in-the-year announcement of the winning name accounts for why the baby name Arbadella (and spelling variant Arbedella) debuted in the data in 1936, but saw even higher usage in 1937.
After welcoming Arbadella, Amos and Ruby went on to have two more children: Amos, Jr., and Amosandra. Neither of these fictional babies had a discernible impact on U.S. baby names, though.
What are your thoughts on the name Arbadella? Do you like it?
P.S. Norita was also a contest-winning name of the 1930s…
P.P.S. In the early 1950s, The Amos ‘n Andy Show aired on television. This time around, the characters were played by African-American actors. Despite good ratings, the show was cancelled after two years due to pressure from the NAACP.
The girl name Prosperity adds up to 161, which reduces to eight (1+6+1=8).
8 via 170
The boy name Josephanthony adds up to 170, which reduces to eight (1+7+0=8).
8 via 197
The girl name Moyosoreoluwa adds up to 197, which reduces to eight (1+9+7=17; 1+7=8).
What Does “8” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “8” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “8” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“8” (the octad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“They used to call the ogdoad [group of eight] ’embracer of all harmonies’ because of this marvellous attunement, or because it is the first to have been attuned and multiplied so as to be equal-times-equal-times-equal, which is a most lawful generation. So when they call it ‘Cadmean,’ they should be understood to be referring to the fact that, as all historians tell us, Harmonia was the wife of Cadmus.”
“The number 8 is the source of the musical ratios”
“All the ways in which it is put together are excellent and equilibrated tunings.”
“The ogdoad is called ‘safety’ and ‘foundation,’ since it is a leader, because two is a leader: the seed of the ogdoad is the first even number.”
“They used to call the ogdoad ‘mother, ‘ perhaps [because] even number is female”
“The eighth sphere encompasses the whole ‘ hence the saying ‘All is eight.'”
“8” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Eight – a money number” (reading 261-14).
“Eight indicates the commercial change” (reading 261-15).
“This brings eight as a vibration for the entity that means an awakening within the inner self to the new possibilities, the new opportunities within self that may make for not only carrying with it the abilities but the obligations of same as well. For to whom much is given in any manifested form, of him much is required” (reading 707-1).
Does “8” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 35, 44, 71, 143) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you like how “35” (i.e., 35 mm format) reminds you of photography and film, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 8, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
Jeanne d’Alcy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1890s to the 1900s. She was born in 1865 in France. Her birth name was Charlotte Lucie Marie Adèle Stephanie Adrienne Faës. Jeanne Eagels was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in 1890 in Missouri. Her birth name was Amelia Jean Eagles. Jeanne Aubert was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in 1900 in France. Jeanne was also a character name in multiple films, including The Phantom’s Secret (1917) and The Flower of the North (1922).
Jinjur was a character played by actress Marie Wayne in the film The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1914).
Jinx Jinx Falkenburg was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1940s. She was born in Spain in 1919. Her birth name was Eugenia Lincoln Falkenburg. Jinx was also a character name in the film Juke Box Jenny (1942).
Josephita Guerrero was a character played by actress Renée Adorée in the film Tide of Empire (1929).
Josette Andriot was an actress who appeared in films from the 1900s to the 1910s. She was born in France in 1886. Her birth name was Camille Élisa Andriot. Josette was also a character played by actress Tala Birell in the film Josette (1938).
New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).
At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.
(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)
No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.
The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.
(Indeed, the name Brenton saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1984, and the name Philadelphia debuted the same year.)
Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.
The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.
Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.
They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.
The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.
Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”
(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)
Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).