How popular is the baby name Dardanella 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 Dardanella.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dardanella


Posts that Mention the Name Dardanella

McCutcheon’s Baby Names: Nedra, Yetive, Gerane, Doraine…

The name “George Barr McCutcheon” probably doesn’t mean anything to you. But the name has become pretty familiar to me over the years, because George Barr McCutcheon — who wrote dozens of novels in the early 1900s — put several brand new baby names on the map in the early 20th century.

The Indiana-born writer lived from 1866 to 1928, and many of his books became bestsellers. Today, his best-remembered story is Brewster’s Millions, which has been adapted into a movie several times. The most memorable adaptation was the 1985 version starring comedians Richard Pryor (as protagonist Montgomery Brewster) and John Candy.

So which baby names did McCutcheon introduce/influence?

Nedra

nedra

McCutcheon’s novel Nedra (1905) was the 5th best-selling book of 1905. Though there’s a lady on the front cover, “Nedra” isn’t a female character, but the name of an island on which several of the characters are shipwrecked.

The next year, the name Nedra debuted on the baby name charts. In fact, it was the top debut name of 1906.

  • 1909: 14 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1908: 18 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1907: 10 baby girls named Nedra
  • 1906: 11 baby girls named Nedra [debut]
  • 1905: unlisted

SSDI data confirms that the name Nedra saw noticeably higher usage after the book was released.

One of these baby Nedras grew up to become actress Nedra Volz (b. 1908).

Yetive, Truxton, Gerane, Beverly

McCutcheon wrote six novels about the fictional Eastern European country of Graustark:

  • Graustark (1901) – the 9th best-selling book of 1901
  • Beverly of Graustark (1904) – the 6th best-selling book of 1904
  • Truxton King (1909) – the 6th best-selling book of 1909
  • The Prince of Graustark (1914) – the 10th best-selling book of 1914
  • East of the Setting Sun (1924)
  • The Inn of the Hawk and Raven (1927)

Several of these books were later made into movies and plays. The three Graustarkian names I’ve noticed on the charts are:

  • Yetive (debuted in 1911), inspired by Princess Yetive, a character in the first two books.
  • Truxton (deb. 1912), inspired by Truxton King, a character in the 3rd book.
  • Gerane (deb. 1928), inspired by Gerane Davos, a character in the final book. (The variant spelling “Geraine” was a one-hit wonder the same year.)

Plus there’s Beverly, which was used for a female character in Beverly of Graustark. The novel, along with a 1926 film adaptation, helped pull the once-gender-neutral name onto the girls’ side definitively. (Ironically, the actress who played Princess Yetive in a 1915 film adaptation of Graustark used the stage name Beverly Bayne.)

Here are some of Graustarkian names that did not make the charts: Ganlook, Grenfall, Dantan, Dannox, Marlanx, Bevra (the daughter of Beverly), Hedrik, and Pendennis.

Doraine

McCutcheon’s novel West Wind Drift (1920) is like his earlier book Nedra in that both stories involve a shipwreck and an island. In Nedra, “Nedra” is the name of the island; in West Wind Drift, “Doraine” is the name of the ship.

The year West Wind Drift came out, the name Doraine debuted in the baby name data.

  • 1923: 5 baby girls named Doraine
  • 1922: unlisted
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Doraine
  • 1920: 11 baby girls named Doraine [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

It was tied for 2nd-highest debut name that year. (#1 was Dardanella.)

Coincidentally, the shipwrecked characters in West Wind Drift have a debate at one point about using “Doraine” as baby name. They argue over whether or not they should give the name to an orphaned baby girl who had been born aboard the ship. Here’s the opinion of character Michael Malone: “We can’t do better than to name her after her birthplace. That’s her name. Doraine Cruise. It sounds Irish. Got music in it.”

*

Have you ever a George Barr McCutcheon book? If so, do you remember any unusual character names? (If not, and you’d like to check him out, here are dozens of George Barr McCutcheon novels archived at Project Gutenberg.)

Sources: The Books of the Century: 1900-1999 – Daniel Immerwahr, George Barr McCutcheon – Wikipedia

The Baby Name Avalon

Avalon, song, Al Jolson

Avalon began as a legendary Arthurian island. It was first mentioned in the early 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who may have derived the name from the Welsh word afal, meaning “apple.”

By the late 1800s, Avalon was seeing regular (if rare) usage as a baby name in the U.S., probably thanks to Lord Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King — a series of Arthurian poems published from 1859 to 1885.

These poems also influenced real estate developer George Shatto to use the name “Avalon” for the Catalina Island resort town he was building in the late 1880s.

California’s Avalon became a popular vacation destination for the Hollywood film community during the early 1900s, and in 1920 the town (and the name) were featured in a song called “Avalon,” written for entertainer Al Jolson.

Here’s the chorus:

I found my love in Avalon
Beside the bay
I left my love in Avalon
And sailed away
I dream of her and Avalon
From dusk ’til dawn
And so I think I’ll travel on
To Avalon

Al Jolson’s rendition of “Avalon” became one of the top songs in America in early 1921.

Not surprisingly, the baby name Avalon saw a spike in usage the same year:

  • 1923: 22 baby girls named Avalon
  • 1922: 23 baby girls named Avalon
  • 1921: 43 baby girls named Avalon
  • 1920: 11 baby girls named Avalon
  • 1919: unlisted

You can see a similar spike in the SSDI data:

  • 1923: 17 people with the first name Avalon
  • 1922: 17 people with the first name Avalon
  • 1921: 36 people with the first name Avalon
  • 1920: 10 people with the first name Avalon
  • 1919: 3 people with the first name Avalon

After the 1920s, the usage of Avalon as a baby name tapered off. In fact, the name wasn’t in the SSA data at all during the ’60s and ’70s.

But it popped up again in 1982. The influence was probably the 1982 Roxy Music album Avalon, which included a song called “Avalon” (video). A slightly later influence was no doubt Marion Zimmer Bradley’s 1983 fantasy novel The Mists of Avalon. (The name of the lead character, Morgaine, debuted in the data in 1984.)

The usage of Avalon has been steadily rising ever since, though the name has yet to hit the top 1,000.

What do you think of the baby name Avalon?

P.S. One of the pre-1921 Avalons was a baby girl born in late 1903 to Mr. and Mrs. Goslin of Maryland. She was born aboard the Chesapeake Bay paddle steamer Avalon. Sadly, Avalon Goslin died of pneumonia in 1918 — just a few years before the song “Avalon” became famous.

Sources:

[Another top song from around this time was Dardanella.]

Where did the baby name Anona come from?

anona, sheet music, 1903

Music has introduced dozens of new names (like Rhiannon, Monalisa, and Alize) to the baby name charts.

I believed for a long time that Dardanella was the first of these introduced-by-song names. It bounded onto the charts in 1920 — before the widespread usage of radio and record players, impressively. This must make it one-of-a-kind, right?

Nope. I’ve since gone back over the early name lists and discovered a musical name that debuted on the charts a whopping 17 years earlier, in 1903. That name is Anona:

  • 1906: 12 baby girls named Anona
  • 1905: 22 baby girls named Anona
  • 1904: 22 baby girls named Anona
  • 1903: 7 baby girls named Anona [debut]
  • 1902: unlisted
  • 1901: unlisted

The SSA’s early name lists are relatively unreliable, so here are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) numbers for the same time-span:

  • 1906: 38 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1905: 48 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1904: 57 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1903: 18 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1902: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)
  • 1901: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)

The song “Anona” was published in mid-1903. It was written by Vivian Grey, which was a pseudonym for either presidential niece Mabel McKinley or prolific songwriter Robert A. King, sources don’t agree.

The song became very popular and was recorded multiple times. (Here’s Henry Burr’s version, for instance.) This is the chorus:

My sweet Anona, in Arizona,
There is no other maid I’d serenade;
By camp-fires gleaming, of you I’m dreaming,
Anona, my sweet Indian maid.

So-called “Indian love songs” were becoming trendy around this time, thanks to the success of the song “Hiawatha” (1902). Here are a few more that, like “Anona,” have titles that were also used as female names in the songs:

  • “Kick-apoo” (1904)
  • “Oneonta” (1904)
  • “Tammany” (1905)
  • “Silverheels” (1905)
  • “Iola” (1906)
  • “Arrah Wanna” (1906)
    • Dozens of babies were named Arrahwanna, Arrah-Wanna, and Arrah Wanna after this song was published.
  • “Sitka” (1909)
  • “Ogalalla” (1909)

What do you think of the baby name Anona? Would you ever consider using it?

Source: Native Americans: The Noble Savage: The Indian Princess

The Baby Name Anzac

I didn’t know that Anzac Day existed until a few days ago, when I read about people named Anzac at the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda.

Anzac Day is celebrated in both Australia and New Zealand every April 25.

ANZAC stands for “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps” — the group of soldiers Australia and New Zealand sent to fight in WWI’s Gallipoli Campaign, which began on April 25, 1915.

The campaign failed, but the efforts of these soldiers gave the two fledgling nations a much-needed sense of identity, and pride.

As a baby name, “Anzac” has been used more often as a middle name than as a first name, and it’s given more often to boys than to girls.

Here are some specifics on the usage of Anzac (and Gallipoli, and Dardanelles) courtesy of the National Library of Australia:

In Victoria for instance, in 1915, seven children were given the name Anzac, one with the name Gallipoli and 24 with Dardanelles or a variation. However, 1916 was the boom year with 153 children named ‘Anzac’ before a rapid drop to just five in 1917, three in 1918, four in 1919 and four in 1920.

All other states also recorded the births of Anzacs with South Australia having 95 named children between 30 May 1915 and 25 April 1928. 24 registrations were made in 1915. This nearly doubled to 46 in 1916 but dropped to just two in 1917, eight in 1918, five in 1919 and a trickle of others to just one born on Anzac Day in 1928. In addition one child in South Australia in each of the years 1915, 1916 and 1918 was named Gallipoli whereas the name Dardanella or similar was given to 19, 43, 10 and four in each of the years 1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918 respectively.

Across the ditch in New Zealand there was a similar trend. In 1915 there were nine children named Anzac with two as first names, four with the name of Gallipoli (one as first name) and 38 with the name of Dardanelles, Dardanella or similar. The following year again saw a relative spike in numbers with 97 children now named Anzac (six as first name), four with the name Gallipoli (one as first) and 32 with the name of Dardanelles or a variation.

Here are some WWI-era examples of given names that include “Anzac” (stolen from the Waltzing More Than Matilda post, with some details added by me):

GirlsBoys
Alma Anzac Myrtle (b. 1916)Anzac Gallipoli Claude (b. 1916)
Annie AnzacAnzac Kitchener
Anzac Cavel VerdonLalbert Anzac
Clover AnzacValentine Anzac
Dardandella Anzac (b. 1916)Vivian Anzac Jasper
Maple AnzacWilliam Anzac France (b. 1916)
Verdun Anzac Jane (b. 1917; went by “Verna”)Winston Anzac (b. 1916)

And here are a few extra examples of WWI-era Anzacs:

So…is “Anzac” still an appropriate name for a baby, now that we’re in the 21st century?

Some people don’t think so.

In 2004, Melbourne couple Reimana Pirika and Gaylene George (of New Zealand and Australia, respectively) decided to name their newborn son Anzac. This angered veterans, who saw it as improper use of the acronym.

Australian politician Danna Vale’s opinion was pretty interesting:

She said that after World War I some children were named Anzac in the “spirit of the times”.

“Over the passage of time views have changed, and I, too, encourage the family to consider the concerns of the ex-service community on the use of Anzac as a child’s name.”

Ms. Vale said she would speak to the RSL about action that could be taken to stop Anzac being used as a name.

Are certain baby names only appropriate in the “spirit of the times”? Do they become inappropriate after too many years/generations have elapsed? What do you think?

Sources:

Image: Coloured illustration of Anzac troops after the fighting at Gallipoli during World War I, State Library of Queensland

Where did the baby name Atari come from?

atari

Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids…if you grew up in the 1980s, you know all about Atari.

But you might not realize that, at the height of the video game console’s popularity, dozens of U.S. babies were actually named Atari:

Baby boys named AtariBaby girls named Atari
19835.
19821611
1981137
19801012 [debut]
197910 [debut].
1978..

The console name comes from the Japanese word atari, which is used in the board came Go in the same way “check” and “checkmate” are used in chess–as a warning to one’s opponent that he/she is in imminent danger of capture.

The baby name Atari dropped off the SSA’s baby name list after 1983, but has recently returned, thanks to football player Atari Bigby (b. 1981), who made his NFL debut in late 2005. Interestingly, he claims he wasn’t named for the video game console…