How popular is the baby name Barbara in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Barbara and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Barbara.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Barbara

Number of Babies Named Barbara

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Barbara

Early Recognition of the “Great-Grandparent Rule”

grandmotherA baby name becomes trendy for one generation. For the next two generations, while those initial babies are parent-aged and grandparent-aged, you can expect the name to go out of style. But during the third generation, once the cohort reaches great-grandparent age, the name is free to come back into fashion.

Evelyn is a name with a usage pattern that fits this description well.

I’ve seen it described elsewhere as the 100-Year Rule, but I prefer to call it the Great-Grandparent Rule, as it makes more sense to me to frame it in terms of generations.

Essentially, the pattern has to do with a name’s main generational association shifting from “a name that belongs to real-life old people” to “a name that sounds pleasantly old-fashioned.”

I used to think the pattern was one we’d only recently discovered — something we needed the data to see — but it turns out that at least one observant person noticed this trend and wrote about it in The San Francisco Call more than 100 years ago (boldface mine):

Time was — and that not very long ago — when old fashioned names, as old fashioned furniture, crockery and hand embroideries, were declared out of date. The progress of the ages that replaced the slower work of hand by the speed of machines cast a blight on everything that betokened age.

Spinning wheels were stowed away in attics, grandmothers’ gowns were tucked into cedar chests, old porcelain of plain design was replaced by more gaudy utensils and machine made and embroidered dresses and lingerie lined the closets where formerly only handwork was hung.

So with given names. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah, Hannah and Anne, one and all, were declared old fashioned and were relegated to past ages to be succeeded by Gladys, Helen, Delphine, Gwendolyn, Geraldine and Lillian and a host of other more showy appellations.

Two generations of these, and woman exercised her time honored privilege and changed her mind.

She woke suddenly to the value of history, hustled from their hiding places the ancient robes and furnishings that were her insignia of culture, discarded the work of the modern machine for the finer output of her own fair hands, and, as a finishing touch, christened her children after their great-grandparents.

Old fashioned names revived with fervor and those once despised are now termed quaint and pretty and “quite the style, my dear.”

Pretty cool that this every-third-generation pattern was already an observable phenomenon three generations ago.

The article went on to list society babies with names like Barbara, Betsy, Bridget, Dorcas (“decidedly Puritan”), Dorothea, Frances, Henrietta, Jane, Josephine, Lucy, Margaret, Mary, Olivia, and Sarah (“much in vogue a century ago”).

Have you see the 100-Year Rule/Great-Grandparent Rule at play in your own family tree? If so, what was the name and what were the birth years?

Source: “Society” [Editorial]. San Francisco Call 17 Aug. 1913: 19.
Image: Frances Marie via Morguefile


Name Quotes #47 – Hiroko, Jaxon, Joule

Welcome to this month’s quote post!

From “Modern baby names have gone too far” (in the Telegraph) by Tom Ough:

Yes: Jaxon. This name is a bad name — an atrocious name. It is an elision of “Jack’s” and “son”, the join clumsily Sellotaped by an X which would find a better home in a bad action film than in a child’s name. (Young readers called Xerxes: forgive me, then promise never to watch your parents’ copy of 300.)

The babies lumbered with ‘Jaxon’ are victims of poor taste rather than sons of men called Jack: if any name is a bastardisation, this is it.

From “The untold stories of Japanese war brides” (in the Washington Post) by Kathryn Tolbert:

They either tried, or were pressured, to give up their Japanese identities to become more fully American. A first step was often adopting the American nicknames given them when their Japanese names were deemed too hard to pronounce or remember. Chikako became Peggy; Kiyoko became Barbara. Not too much thought went into those choices, names sometimes imposed in an instant by a U.S. officer organizing his pool of typists. My mother, Hiroko Furukawa, became Susie.

How did it feel to be renamed for someone in the man’s past, a distant relative or former girlfriend? My mother said she didn’t mind, and others said it made their lives easier to have an American name.

On the origin of the name “Lolo” from the Lolo National Forest website:

“Lolo” probably evolved from “Lou-Lou”, a pronunciation of “Lawrence,” a French-Canadian fur trapper killed by a grizzly bear and buried at Grave Creek.

The first written evidence of the name “Lolo” appears in 1831 when fur trader John Work refers in his journal to Lolo Creek as “Lou Lou.”

In an 1853 railroad survey and map, Lieutenant John Mullan spelled the creek and trail “Lou Lou.” However, by 1865 the name was shortened to Lolo and is currently the name of a national forest, town, creek, mountain peak, mountain pass and historic trail in west central Montana.

From an article about historical name trends in England:

The establishment of the Church of England coincided with the publication in 1535 of the first modern English translation of both the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible. The Protestant reform movement stressed the central importance of the Bible, and the new English translations meant that many more people could read the Bible themselves. In turn, it also meant that they had access to the large stock of names from the Old Testament – from Aaron to Zechariah, and Abigail to Zipporah. These names had the added attraction that they were much less associated with Catholicism than many New Testament names. As a result, Old Testament names became much more common during the late-16th century and 17th century, especially among girls.

NPR writer Lateefah Torrence on the name of her daughter Dalia Joule Braun-Torrence:

Post-delivery, Frank and I were still unsure of her name. In the few days before her birth, we had narrowed our girl name list down to Aziza and Dalia.

[…]

We looked into her tiny face and asked, “Dalia?” Our little girl stared at us inquisitively. I think she may have been thinking, “Obviously.” We then asked, “Aziza?” — she turned away from us, and we knew our Dalia was here.

From the book Cajun Country (1991) by Barry Jean Ancelet, Jay Dearborn Edwards, and Glen Pitre:

[A] few years ago the Lafourche Daily Comet ran an obituary for eighty-two-year-old Winnie Grabert Breaux. The article listed Winnie’s brothers and sisters, living and dead: Wiltz, Wilda, Wenise, Witnese, William, Willie, Wilfred, Wilson, Weldon, Ernest, Norris, Darris, Dave, Inez and Lena.

(According to Winnie’s Find a Grave profile, “Wiltz” is Wilson, “Witnese” is Witness and “Weldon” is Wildon. Here’s a recent post on Cajun nicknames.)

From “JFK’s legacy in Bogotá lives on 55-years later” (in The City Paper) by Andy East:

It was Dec. 17, 1961, and nearly one-third of Bogotá’s 1.5 million inhabitants had turned out on a sunny Sunday afternoon for one reason: to catch a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The massive outpouring was the largest reception the U.S. leader ever had.

[…]

The historic visit, which lasted only 14 hours, would change the lives of thousands of families and have a profound impact on the city that is still visible 55 years later.

[…]

In the immediate years after Kennedy’s visit, the most popular baby names registered at baptisms in Ciudad Kennedy were John, Fitzgerald (Kennedy’s middle name), Jacqueline and Kennedy.

(Here’s a recent post about U.S. babies named for JFK.)

From “Old people names of the future” by Sara Chodosh:

Perhaps the strongest trend in recent years hasn’t been certain names, it’s been a diversity of names. […] The plethora of names has weakened individual trends; we haven’t had a strong female name trend since the ’90s. And without a significant number of babies with a particular name, we may stop associating certain names with certain generations.

For more, check out the name quotes category.

Arrr! Baby Names for Talk Like a Pirate Day

pirate baby

Avast! Did you know that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day?

“Arrr” itself doesn’t make a great name — even for pirates — but here’s the next best thing: over 120 names that feature the “ar”-sound.

Araminta
Arcadia
Arden
Aretha
Aria
Arianna
Arlene
Arlette
Artemis
Barbara
Barbie
Carla
Carlene
Carley
Carmel
Carmella
Carmen
Charlene
Charlotte
Charmaine
Darcy
Daria
Darla
Darlene
Gardenia
Harbor
Harlow
Harmony
Hildegarde
Karla
Katarina
Larisa
Mara
Marcella
Marcia
Margaret
Margot, Margaux
Maria
Mariah
Mariana
Marie
Marina
Mariska
Marissa
Marjorie
Marla
Marlena
Marlene
Marley
Marnie
Marta
Martha
Marva
Martina
Narcissa
Parthenia
Pilar
Rosario
Scarlett
Skylar
Starla
Arcadio
Archer
Archibald
Archie
Ari
Arlo
Arnold
Arsenio
Arthur
Balthazar
Barnaby
Barton
Bernard (…Bernarr?)
Carl
Carlisle
Carlton
Carson
Carter
Carver
Charles
Clark
Dario
Darius
Darwin
Edgar
Edward
Finbar
Garfield
Gerard
Gunnar
Hardy
Harley
Harper
Harvey
Howard
Karl
Lars
Larson
Lazarus
Leonard
Marcel
Marcellus
Mario
Marius
Marc, Mark
Marcus, Markus
Marlow
Marshall
Martin
Marvin
Nazario
Oscar
Parker
Richard
Stewart, Stuart
Ward
Warner
Warren
Warrick
Willard
Yardley

Which of the “ar”-names above do you like best? Did I miss any good ones?

(Image from Pixabay)

Additions, 9/20:

Poll: Pick a Pair of Toni Twin Names

joan and jean mcmillan, twins, 1949While looking at multiples from 1944 last month, I found sources claiming that both Mary & Marjorie Vaughan and Lois & Lucille Barnes were the “original” twins in the ads for Toni Home Permanents (tagline: “Which twin has the Toni?”).

Many sets of twins were involved in the Toni ad campaigns of the ’40s, though, so I’m not sure if any single set of twins can be called the “original” twins. For example, a November 1949 issue of LIFE included a full-page Toni ad with six sets of twins:

  • Eleanor and Jeanne Fulstone of Nevada
  • Betty and Barbara Land of Virginia
  • Barbara and Beverly Lounsbury of New Jersey
  • Joan and Jean McMillan of Texas (pictured)
  • Marjorie and Mary Vaughan of Indiana
  • Charlotte and Antoinette Winkelmann of New York

Let’s pretend you’re about to have twin girls, and you have to give them one of the name-pairs above. Which pair do you choose?

Pick a pair...

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3 More Airplane Babies: Lufthansa, S.K.Y., Jet Star

planeIt’s been a while since I posted about babies born on airplanes (and named after that fact!). So here are two three at once:

  • Barbara Lufthansa – In July of 1965, a baby girl born on a Lufthansa flight from Germany to New York was named Barbara Lufthansa, middle name in honor of the airline.
  • Shona Kirsty Yves (S.K.Y.) – In 1991, a baby girl born on a British Airways flight from Ghana to London was named Shona Kirsty Yves, the initials of her three given names spelling out the word “sky.”
  • Saw Jet Star – In April of 2016, a baby boy born on a Jetstar Asia flight from Singapore to Myanmar was named Saw Jet Star, “Jet Star” in honor of the airline.

And here are some of the earlier airplane babies:

Do you know of any that I missed?

Sources: