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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Clovia


Posts that Mention the Name Clovia

The Baby Name Dellora

Miss Dellora Angell, newspaper photo, February 1919
Dellora (Feb. 1919)

The Dolores-like baby name Dellora appeared in the U.S. data for a total of six years, seeing peak usage in 1922:

  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: 8 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1923: 13 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1922: 14 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1921: 7 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: 7 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1918: 5 baby girls named Dellora
  • 1917: unlisted

Much of this usage is attributable to heiress Dellora Angell (1902-1979) of St. Charles, Illinois.

Her name first started popping up in the newspapers in late 1918, upon the death of her maternal aunt, Dellora Gates. Aunt Dellora was the widow of wealthy industrialist John W. Gates, and she left the bulk of the Gates fortune to her last two close relatives: her brother Edward, and her teenage niece/namesake Dellora (the daughter of her deceased sister Lavern).

In the early 1920s, the newspapers began linking young Dellora to various suitors (e.g., a Brazilian physician named Vantini, an oil man named Campbell).

In late 1922, she finally got engaged to a childhood friend from St. Charles named Lester Norris, described as a “poor artist and son of the village undertaker.” (He was a newspaper cartoonist; he later became a businessman.)

They had a small wedding in March of 1923. After that, they rented a small apartment in St. Charles, where Dellora “began housekeeping, doing her own cooking and sewing, and having a lot of fun doing it.”

For several years the newspapers continued to report on Dellora’s growing family, and her unusual decision to live so simply:

The richest young woman in the world, who, from the number of her millions, and her youth and beauty, one would expect to find wintering at Cannes, moving with the seasons from one smart watering place to another and filling her wardrobe with Parisian gowns and jewels, lives quietly in a Middle Western town, wears gingham dresses, as she does own housework, and looks after her two babies herself.

(They went on to have a total of five children: Lavern, Lester*, Joann, Robert, and John.)

In the meanwhile, Dellora and Lester (and Dellora’s uncle, Edward) quietly gave back to the community of St. Charles. They funded/created a theater, a municipal center, a hospital (named “Delnor,” a contraction of Dellora Norris), a hotel, a community center, and made numerous other contributions and donations to schools, churches, and so forth. Today, Dellora’s name lives on in the name of the Dellora A. Norris Cultural Arts Center.

What are your thoughts on baby name Dellora? Would you consider using it on a modern baby?

Sources:

  • “J. W. Gates’s Widow Dies at Age of 63.” New York Tribune 29 Nov. 1918: 12.
  • “Coming June Bride Is Worth at Least Million.” Riverside Daily Press 11 Jun. 1921: 1.
  • “Has Dellora Angell, $38,000,000 Heiress, Again Run Away From Love.” Evening World [New York] 18 Jul. 1922: 16.
  • “Heiress Engaged.” Riverside Daily Press 10 Nov. 1922: 1.
  • “Humble Life Preferred by Millionaire Bride.” Evening Star 16 Nov. 1923: 38.
  • “The Gates Heiress and Her “Love-In-a-Cottage”.” Ogden Standard Examiner 26 Jul. 1925: 22.
  • Szymczak, Patricia M. “The Legacy.” Chicago Tribune 15 Jan. 1989.

*In July of 1925, it was reported that baby Lester, born in April, was still nameless and “in lieu of a permanent name” was being called Skeezix after the comic strip character (see Clovia).

Normandie, Take Two

comics, normandie, 1930s

Last year I guessed that the 1935 debut of Normandie on the SSA’s list was inspired by the maiden voyage of the SS Normandie.

Just a few weeks ago, though, I stumbled upon a theory that makes a lot more sense.

I was in the middle of researching the name Terrylea (a one-hit wonder from 1948 — any guesses?) when I found myself on the IMDB page for Terry and the Pirates (1940).

IMDB pages are full of names, so whenever I land on one I feel compelled to skim. And on this particular page I happened to spot the character name “Normandie Drake.”

It made me think of the baby name Normandie, of course, but the release year didn’t match up to any of the SSA data, so…dead end, right?

Well, turns out the movie was based on a popular comic strip of the same name by cartoonist Milton Caniff. The strip was first published in late 1934.

And which character was introduced in January of 1935? Normandie Drake.

Very intriguing — especially when you consider that a number of baby name debuts from that era were inspired by comic strip characters (e.g., Clovia, Dondi).

Another interesting point: Normandie Drake wasn’t featured in every storyline, and her comings and goings in the comic seem to correspond with the fluctuating usage of the name.

In 1942, for instance, she reappeared after an absence. That same year, the usage of Normandie increased:

  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1943: 9 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1942: 14 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 11 baby girls named Normandie
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: 7 baby girls named Normandie [debut]
  • 1934: unlisted

Not only that, but she brought along her young daughter Merrily* and the baby name Merrily** promptly skyrocketed into the top 1,000:

  • 1944: 71 baby girls named Merrily
  • 1943: 120 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 914th]
  • 1942: 201 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 698th]
  • 1941: 13 baby girls named Merrily [ranked 513th]
  • 1940: unlisted

A magazine interview with Milton Caniff from a few years later (1945) included a photo of two little girls named Merrily after the character. The caption also mentioned young girls named Normandie after Normandie Drake and April after another Terry character, April Kane.

So, in light of all this new information, I have to admit that my first theory was probably not the strongest theory. The debut was much more likely caused by Normandie Drake than by the SS Normandie. Though the ship (and related novelty items, like Normandie perfume) could have been a secondary influence here.

(That said…heiress Normandie Drake herself may have been named with the luxurious ocean liner in mind. So maybe my initial theory wasn’t so far off after all?)

Anyway, sorry I didn’t have the full story on this one before posting. Better late than never!

*Milton Caniff named and modeled Merrily after Mary Lee Engli, the daughter of fellow cartoonist Frank Engli.
**The baby names Merrilee and Merrilie were also affected.

Sources:

Clovia – Comic Strip Baby Name

comic strip, clovia, gasoline alley, 1950s
Gasoline Alley, early ’50s

The baby name Clovia debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1949:

  • 1952: 5 baby girls named Clovia
  • 1951: 5 baby girls named Clovia
  • 1950: 13 baby girls named Clovia
  • 1949: 22 baby girls named Clovia [debut]
  • 1948: unlisted

It was the 4th-highest girl name debut that year after Rainelle, Rainell and Randye.

Where did it come from?

A comic strip. Gasoline Alley characters Skeezix and Nina welcomed a baby girl in May of 1949 and named her Clovia.

Why “Clovia”?

Nina got stuck in traffic on the way to the hospital and was forced to give birth in a taxi. On the infant’s wrist was a birthmark in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

Clovia doll
Clovia the doll

And Clovia wasn’t just a comic strip character. For a time, she was also a doll.

In mid-1949, a few weeks after Clovia’s introduction, Clovia dolls became available in retail stores. (Dolls based on comic strip babies had become trendy in the 1940s.)

The baby name Clovia remained on the national baby name list through the 1950s, but usage petered out in the 1960s.

(Dondi, another comic strip-inspired name, had more staying power. Sparkle, on the other hand, lasted only a year.)

Sources:

  • “Comic Strip Dolls.” Life 19 Oct. 1953.
  • Cushman, Philip. Constructing the Self, Constructing America. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1995.

Images © Life.

Baby Name Needed – Middle Name for Elle

Patience and her husband are expecting a baby girl in June. They plan to name her Elle, but they’re having a tough time choosing a middle name:

My maiden name is Lewis, and my husband’s middle name is Louis. […] I don’t like Louise…but it would be cool to play on the similarity of our names for her middle name. Then again I don’t know how I feel about: Elle L. Wagner.

(Their real surname isn’t Wagner, but it does start with a W and have two syllables.)

I’m not too sure about “Elle L.” either. Putting a name and a letter that sound exactly alike side-by-side will probably cause a lot of confusion. Also, Elle followed by any L-name is going to be tricky to say aloud.

Unfortunately, though, many Louis-derived female names start with L. Most of those that don’t (e.g. Clovia, Aloysia) are fairly exotic. The only two I’d consider are Gia and Gina, which are distant cousins of Louis via the Italian Luigia.

A compound name might work. Marylou, Marylouisa, Annalou, Annalouisa…any short-ish name could be the first element, and a Louis-based name could be the second. Length would be an issue, but Elle is quite short, so I think a longer middle wouldn’t be too much of a burden.

The only other idea I had was to look at names that have consonants in common with Lewis and Louis, such as:

Celeste
Gwendolyn
Melissa
Phyllis
Sybil
Sylvia
Selena
Salome
Wilhelmina

None of the above are in the Louis family, but they could be seen as “tribute” names in a sense.

What other ideas would guys offer to Patience?