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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Chester

Number of Babies Named Chester

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Chester

Babies Named for Black WWII Hero Dorie Miller

Doris (Dorie) Miller, 1942
Doris “Dorie” Miller, 1942
Here’s a special name (and some little-known black history!) in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Dorie has been on the SSA’s baby name list since the 1910s as a girl name, but it suddenly popped up as a boy name in 1942:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 5 baby boys named Dorie
  • 1943: 9 baby boys named Dorie
  • 1942: 12 baby boys named Dorie [debut]
  • 1941: unlisted

Why?

This was the year Doris Miller — later known as “Dorie Miller” — was recognized as the first African-American hero of World War II.

Doris Miller was born in 1919 in Texas to parents Connery and Henrietta Miller. “The third of four sons, Doris Miller was named by the midwife who assisted with his birth; she was positive before the birth that the baby would be a girl.”

He enlisted in the Navy in 1939. Over the next couple of years, he worked his way up to ship’s cook, third class.

“You have to understand that when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was president in 1932, he opened up the Navy again to blacks, but in one area only; they were called mess attendants, stewards, and cooks,” says Clark Simmons, who was a mess attendant on the U.S.S. Utah during the Pearl Harbor attack. “The Navy was so structured that if you were black, this was what they had you do in the Navy–you only could be a servant.”

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Doris Miller was in the middle of collecting laundry aboard the USS West Virginia when the first torpedo hit his ship at around 8 am.

He immediately headed to his combat station, but it had been destroyed by the blast.

He then rushed to the main deck, to help transport the mortally wounded captain to a more sheltered section of the bridge.

Finally, he “raced to an unattended deck [machine] gun and fired at the attacking planes until forced to abandon ship.”

It was Miller’s first experience firing such a weapon because black sailors serving in the segregated steward’s branch of the navy were not given the gunnery training received by white sailors.

Dorie Miller, Navy recruiting poster
Navy recruiting poster featuring Dorie Miller

During the first months of 1942, U.S. newspapers and radio stations shared the story of Doris and his bravery. It was during this period that the press started referring to him as “Dorie” (a nickname that apparently began as a typo).

Miller’s acts were heavily publicized in the black press, making him the iconic emblem of the war for blacks—their “Number One Hero”—thereby energizing black support for the war effort against a colored Japanese enemy.

On May 27, 1942, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz conferred the Navy Cross upon Miller, who was the very first African-American to receive the award.

Sadly, Miller never got a chance to meet any of his namesakes across the country (such as fellow veterans Dorie Miller Fells and Dorie Miller Harris). He was aboard the USS Liscome Bay in late 1943 when it was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine.

But many things beyond babies — roads, buildings, parks, and even a navy ship (the USS Miller) — have been named in his honor ever since.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the baby name Doris did not see a corresponding uptick in usage as a boy name in the early ’40s, as the media and the Navy almost always referred to Miller as “Dorie” during this period.

Sources:


Name Quotes for the Weekend #16

paloma picasso quote: "proud that name means peace"

From “A Fashionable Life: Paloma Picasso” in Harper’s Bazaar:

She produces two major [jewelry] collections a year [for Tiffany’s New York]. This year, to celebrate her 30th anniversary, she has already launched three new collections: Marrakesh (including the openwork bracelets), Hammered Circles, and Paloma’s Dove, which features, most appropriately, a dove pendant.

Having been named by her father in honor of the dove he drew that became the symbol of the World Peace Conference in 1949, Paloma went through a process for designing the latter that wasn’t easy. She did about 200 drawings. “I didn’t want it to look like a Pablo Picasso dove,” she explains. “One looked like a Braque, and I thought, ‘No! Can’t have that!'” She did finally settle on a perfect version. “One looked like an angel. I’ve always been proud that my name stands for peace, and I thought, The angel of peace; that’s my combination,” she says. “A dove that will protect you.”

From an ESPN article about NFL kicker Ryan Succop:

One of the very last entries under Ryan Succop’s biography in the Kansas City Chiefs’ media guide, under the section marked “Personal,” is the pronunciation of his last name.

“Full name: Ryan Barrow Succop (pronounced SUCK-UP)”

It’s a name that could lend itself to snickers, punchy headlines or flat-out ridicule, assuming he ever missed a kick. But the truth is that Succop is banging the football through the uprights with record-setting dependability.

From a review of the French film What’s in a Name? by Inkoo Kang of The Village Voice:

The premise of parents attacking each other for their taste in baby names sounds yawningly self-indulgent, even downright stupid. Yet the French chamber dramedy What’s in a Name is frequently delightful, full of ribald humor and compelling, intelligent debate. (One joke about fetal alcohol syndrome is a standout, while another comparing coming out as gay to confessing to dog murder somehow avoids offensiveness.)

Last sentence of Inkoo Kang’s twitter bio: “What you really need/want to know: it’s pronounced in-goo.”

From an NPR article about McSweeney’s:

[The new anthology] begins with McSweeney’s’ mock letters section, easily its goofiest offering. Typical to the section is a letter from one Tom O’Donnell:

Dear McSweeney’s,

I have a common name. According to some estimates, nearly 40 percent of men are named “Tom O’Donnell.” … In the time it took me to write this sentence, chances are you named at least one of your children “Tom O’Donnell.”

This would all be fine if it were still Bible times, but today it’s a problem. Why? Because it’s basically impossible to Google myself.

Tom O’Donnell hopes, in his increasingly demented letter, that McSweeney’s will hold a contest, or a poll, or perhaps a tournament to find him a new name.

I’ve narrowed down my list of potential replacements to the following … :

Vladislav Fukuyama-Gomez: I love names that combine several different ethnicities, because they’re used in movies to tell you it’s the future.

Dennis Pulley: I can think of no better way to honor my great-grandfather’s memory than by taking the name of the man he killed.

QUIZNOS Presents Todd DeMoss: Sure, it’s a mouthful — but so is the delicious Chipotle Prime Rib sandwich, only available at QUIZNOS.

From an essay on Dennis, the “most menacing baby name,” in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Normally, I’m not big on the idea that a baby’s name has any bearing whatsoever on his/her personality later in life — though I have noticed that anybody named Jack or Willie seems to have been born cool.

But the evidence suggests that Dennis is dangerous.

Dennis is charismatic, but he’s a rebel. He’s never a meek conformist who goes along to get along. He is often a big jerk, but not always. He can be a weirdo, a cynic, a lacerating wit, an obsessive nut job. But chances are, he’ll be what we say in polite company, “a strong personality.” Dennis can’t be characterized as any one thing, and that’s exactly the point. He’s doesn’t just march to a different drummer. He is the different drummer.

From a blog post by Celeste of The Reluctant Mom’s Blog:

I have always disliked my name – Celeste – I still really dislike it.

The main reason that it is probably a less than ideal name for me is that I have a lisp. Do you know how hard it is to say Celeste when you have a lisp?

It comes out “Tha-leth-t” and pretty much as spit on the listeners top lip. My spit on their lip.

This would usually require people to say “sorry, what was your name again?”

I would get more nervous and my lisp would be more pronounced. To make matters all the more tragic, I could not pronounce “r” or “s” until I was in Sub B/Grade 2.

Eventually I would be too defeated to repeat my name, just started going “yes, close enough…” and then let them call me Nancy or what ever.

[…]

On one occasion the person misheard me and called me “Chester” – so far that has been my favourite incorrect name.

I didn’t correct them – I wanted to be their ‘Chester.”

From “Racism And Meritocracy” by Eric Ries at Techcrunch:

I previously described on my blog one simple change I made to the hiring process at my last company. I asked all of our recruiters to give me all resumes of prospective employees with their name, gender, place of origin, and age blacked out. This simple change shocked me, because I found myself interviewing different-looking candidates — even though I was 100% convinced that I was not being biased in my resume selection process. If you’re screening resumes, or evaluating applicants to a startup school, I challenge you to adopt this procedure immediately, and report on the results.

From a Telegraph article about skier Bode Miller:

The legal saga of America’s most successful downhill male skier, two glamorous blondes and a bicoastal custody battle over a baby boy with two names has taken a fresh turn in a New York courtroom.

Bode Miller, the Olympic gold medallist, arrived for the hearing holding his nine-month-old son. But there he was required to hand the boy back — for now at least — to his ex-girlfriend Sara McKenna, a former Marine.

[…]

It was little wonder that the infant seemed confused as he was passed between parents who cannot even agree on his name: Ms McKenna calls him Samuel and Mr Miller prefers Nathaniel.

From a Metro interview with Benedict Cumberbatch:

What’s the story behind your fantastic name? There’s a sort of debate about that. Cumberbatch could be Welsh for a small valley dweller. The ‘cum’ in Cumberbatch is hill. I need to look into it. Benedict means blessed. My parents liked the sound of the name and felt slightly blessed because they’d been trying for a child for a very long time. I’m not Catholic, so it’s not that. They liked the idea of Benedict and Ben, the fact that it can be contracted. I think Toby was their second choice.

From a post about long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad at Having a Word:

Nyad sounds like naiad – naiads in Greek mythology were water nymphs or spirits. That’s cute, I thought. Then I noticed that naiad is an anagram of her first name – Diana. *Cue dramatic chords* So, could this just be coincidence or is something else in play?

There is a notion – called nominative determinism – that a person’s name can somehow influence the type of work or activities they do, and maybe even their character.

The idea is an ancient one but the term nominative determinism was coined in the 1990s in the Feedback column of the popular science magazine New Scientist (one of the examples cited was an article on incontinence that had been published in the British Journal of Urology by J W Splatt & D Weedon.)

Related to nominative determinism: The Name Letter Effect.

For previous quote posts, check out the name quotes category.

Chester Arthur Namesake Disinherited

This story involves politics, the law, and a whole lot of Hamburgers.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Hamburger lived in New York during the mid-to-late 1800s. They had five children: Frank, Minnie, Emilie, Josephine and Otto.

Now, Charles was a life-long Democrat. So was his son Frank. But the woman Frank married was a Republican and, in 1880, she was able to convince Frank to name their newborn son Arthur Chester Hamburger after vice presidential candidate Chester Arthur.

This name did not please Grandpa Hamburger, who “was worth about $300,000.” So, in 1882, he wrote a will that left thousands to everyone…except for little Arthur Chester. “[T]he old gentleman, still outraged at the name given to Frank’s child by its mother, left it $50 for the purpose of showing that it was not left out of the will by accident.”

By 1887, Grandpa Hamburger had passed away, Frank had passed away, and Frank’s widow was in court trying to squeeze money out of the Hamburger estate for her disinherited child. As far as I can tell, she was unsuccessful.

Source: “Disinherited for his name.” New York Times 24 June 1887: 3.

P.S. How do you like the name “Minnie Hamburger”?

Baby Names that Won’t Make a Comeback?

About.com guide Robin Elise Weiss recently published a list of 10 Baby Names That Won’t Make a Comeback. These were her picks:

  • Girl names – Mildred, Eula, Deloris, Gladys, Norma
  • Boy names – Herman, Chester, Elbert, Norman, Ralph

Hm. I can’t quite agree with Robin here. The only thing holding most of these back is style, and style is always in flux.

Even Ralph, which became a slang term for “vomit” several decades ago, isn’t necessarily doomed. Slang meanings stick for a while, but not forever. (Just look at Roger.)

Do you think there are any names out there that will never make a comeback? Which ones, and why?

Baby Names Needed for the Twin Siblings of Beatrix

A reader named Marissa, who has a daughter named Beatrix Penelope (nn Bea), is expecting twins–one boy, one girl. She’s got their middle names narrowed down (Anthony or Alexander for the baby boy, Daphne or Jillian for the baby girl) but she’d like some help with their first names.

Here’s what she’s looking for in a boy name:

For the boy I’d like names that are two syllables long and start and end in a consonant. So far I like Robert, Patrick, Daniel and Fabian. The only one he likes is Fabian, but we’re still not sure.

And here’s what she’s looking for in a girl name:

For the girl I’d like names that are three or four syllables long, and start and end in a vowel. So far I like Anastasia, Ophelia, Elena and Ursula, but he likes none of them.

The babies’ last name will sound something like Thisbe.

Here are some of the boy names I came up with:

Calvin
Clement
Chester
Conrad
Curtis
David
Declan
Dexter
Duncan
Felix
Franklin
Holden
Howard
Jasper
Kenneth
Lincoln
Linus
Lucas
Malcolm
Martin
Maxwell
Miles
Mitchell
Nathan
Nelson
Nigel
Nolan
Philip
Raymond
Reuben
Roland
Roman
Silas
Simon
Stuart
Thomas
Victor
Vincent
William
Winston

And here are some ideas for the girl name:

Acantha
Adela
Adelina
Adriana
Agatha
Alexandra
Alexina
Alicia
Allegra
Althea
Amelia
Annabella
Andrea
Angela
Antonia
Arabella
Araminta
Athena
Augusta
Aurelia
Aurora
Azalea
Eleanora
Eliana
Elisa
Eloisa
Estella
Eugenia
Eulalia
Imelda
Iona
Irena/Irina
Isabella
Isidora
Octavia
Odelia
Odessa
Olivia
Olympia
Ottilia

Which of the above do you like best with Beatrix? (And which ones make the best boy/girl pairings, do you think?)

What other names would you suggest to Marissa?

Baby Names Needed – Classy, Quirky Names for Twins

A reader named Abbie has four children: Leo Sebastian, Henry Edward, Jasper Alaric, and Eliza Vivienne. She recently learned that she is expecting twins (congrats!) and would like some help coming up with baby names–especially boy names. She writes:

Lucy Matilda and Nora Penelope will be the twins’ names if they are both girls.

We like shorter (two to three syllables) names that are classy and old-fashioned but have a hint of eccentricity and quirkiness to them; we want them to be familiar and accepted but still be unusual enough that they’ll be the only one in their classes.

If it helps, our last name starts with Gold and is two syllables.

The very first name to pop into my head? Amory, which I know from This Side of Paradise. This made me think that other names from Fitzgerald books and stories (written during the 1920s and ’30s) might be names Abbie would like. So I flipped through the Fitzgerald books that I own, then flipped through others that I don’t own (thanks to the magnificent Project Gutenberg), and found:

Abe (Abraham)
Albert
Charlie
Chester
Dexter
Duncan
Nelson
Percy
Roscoe
Warren
Daisy
Edith
Honoria
Lorraine
Lucille
Marion
Marjorie
Rosemary
Stella
Violet

I included girl names, but I don’t think Abbie needs any. (I’m guessing that if only one twin is a girl, she’ll be named either Lucy Matilda or Nora Penelope.)

So let’s concentrate on boy names now. Here are some others that seem both old-fashioned and a bit quirky to me:

Alfred
Arthur
Avery
Bernard
Bertram
Cedric
Dexter
Ernest
Felix
Frederick
Lewis
Milo
Nolan
Owen
Philip
Roland
Rupert
Simon
Stuart
Walter

Out of these, I think my favorites (for the sib set Leo, Henry, Jasper and Eliza) would be Owen, Philip, Simon and Stuart.

Which of the names above do you like best? What other names (firsts, middles, or combinations) would you suggest?

Update – The babies have arrived! To see what their genders/names are, either scroll down through the comments or just click here.

Don’t Commit to a Name Pattern Until You Read These 3 Tips

Humans love patterns. Just look last year’s list of popular twin names:

Jacob & Joshua
Daniel & David
Jayden & Jordan
Ethan & Evan
Taylor & Tyler
Gabriella & Isabella
Isaac & Isaiah
Madison & Morgan
Elijah & Isaiah
Ella & Emma

Eight pairs start with the same letter. Seven have the same rhythm. Another seven end with the same letter (and many of these nearly rhyme).

For twins and other multiples, sticking with a name pattern is easy. You know the number of children and their genders ahead of time.

But what if you want a name pattern for an entire sibling set? That can make things tricky. You don’t know how many children you’ll have, or what their genders will be. You also don’t know how your tastes may change over time.

If you’re thinking about a name pattern to cover all of your kids, here are three pieces of advice to consider before you begin:

Don’t lock yourself into something limiting.
Let’s say you like flowers. You have a daughter and you name her Lily. You have another daughter and name her Rose. Then another, Jasmine. And then a fourth, but…you don’t like any other flower names. Iris? Too old. Poppy? Too young. Zinnia? Too weird. Amaryllis will never be spelled correctly. And Daisy is the golden retriever down the street.

Or, let’s say you have a son named Alexander. Then you have another boy, and you decide to name him Xavier so they both have that X in common. Then baby #3–a little girl–comes along. Well, you can’t do Alexis–that’s too close to Alexander. You won’t go near Maxine because you fear maxi pad jokes. Roxanne reminds you too much of that song. Xena reminds you too much of that show. And Beatrix makes you think of rabbits.

When you play chess, you have to think ahead several moves. Look at sibling name patterns the same way. Think ahead as many kids as possible. If you can think of 10 or more usable names that fit the pattern, it’s probably a safe pattern. If you can’t, the pattern may be too limiting to be sustainable.

Consider the pros and cons of visibility.
Have you heard of the Duggars? They have nearly 20 kids, and all of those kids have a J-name. This type of name pattern is one of the easiest to spot. (Especially in large families.)

But name patterns don’t have to be obvious. Let’s say your children will have a whole bunch of aunts and uncles you’d like to honor with baby names. You make a list of their names and simply pick from this list as you have children. In this case, the pattern (aunt and uncle names) is so subtle that it’s basically a family secret.

Here are some example name patterns, ranging from blatant to barely there:

Very conspicuous: First letters (Lou, Leah, Len, Lila)
Rhyme (Aiden, Hayden, Kaeden, Graydon)
Like-sounds (Meredith, Heath, Edith, Griffith)
Theme (Indigo, Scarlet, Tawny, Cyan)
Kinda conspicuous: Alphabetical (Alfred, Bea, Chester, Diana)
Rhythm (Augustus, Miranda, Dakota, Lorenzo)
Source (Juliet, Yorick, Orlando, Cordelia)
Origin (Duncan, Angus, Una, Lachlan)
Inconspicuous: Number of letters (Jason, Frank, Kelly, Alexa)
Spread-out alphabetical (Brian, Elaine, Laura, Paul)
Letter in common (Abigail, Sebastian, Tobias, Isabella)
Chain [last letters into first letters] (Michael, Lauren, Nora, Andrew)

How can you test the visibility of a particular pattern? Make a list of names that fit the pattern. Pick two at random and give them to a friend. Ask that friend what the two names have in common. Did she get it on the first try? Was she unable to guess at all? That should give you a good idea about where the pattern would fall on the spectrum.

Avoid sets of names that have an endpoint.
Your first son is Luke. The next is Sky. The next is Walker. And then…surprise! Son #4. Now what–Anakin? Darth? Chewbacca?

If you start off with a discrete set of names, the universe will laugh at you and you will either:

  • not have enough kids, or
  • have too many kids

to match the number of names in the set. Murphy’s Law in action. So don’t tempt fate–stick with an open-ended theme that could end at two names or continue to ten.

What other suggestions would you give to parents considering name patterns?

Source: SSA