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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Dorothea

Number of Babies Named Dorothea

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Dorothea

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not very long ago — when old fashioned names, as old fashioned furniture, crockery and hand embroideries, were declared out of date.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


One-Hit Wonder Baby Name: Tootie

The name Tootie appeared on the SSA’s baby name list for the first and only time in 1958:

  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 5 baby girls named Tootie [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

What gave the usage of Tootie a boost that year?

My guess is 13-year-old Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens of Washington, D.C., whose picture ran in the newspapers in August of 1958. (I couldn’t find a non-watermarked copy, unfortunately, so this will have to do.)

tootie stevens, 1958, with letter from North Pole
Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens, 1958

Why was her picture in the papers?

Because she’d just received “a letter from the top of the world” — the North Pole. The letter came from a family friend by the name of Richard F. Dobbins, who was at that time serving as medical officer aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, which had just made the very first undersea transit of the Arctic ice cap.

What do you think of the name Tootie — does it work on its own, or is it better as a nickname?

Image: 1958 Press Photo Dorothea “Tootie” Stevens

Starlet Names from the Early 1900s

Ever heard of the WAMPAS Baby Stars?

They were young actresses on the cusp of movie stardom back in the 1920s and 1930s.

WAMPAS baby stars 1928

About 13 Baby Stars were selected by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers every year from 1922 to 1934 (minus 1930 and 1933).

Some of those young women did indeed achieve stardom. Among the Baby Stars were Clara Bow (’24), Mary Astor (’26), Joan Crawford (’26), Fay Wray (’26) and Ginger Rogers (’32).

I thought the names of the Baby Stars — the oldest of whom were born in the final years of the 1800s, the youngest of whom were born in the mid-1910s — would make an interesting set. But I wanted birth names, not stage names, so I tracked down as many birth names as I could. Here’s the result, sorted by frequency (i.e., seven women were named Dorothy).

  • 7: Dorothy
  • 6: Helen
  • 4: Elizabeth
  • 3: Frances, Ruth, Virginia
  • 2: Anita, Ann, Barbara, Betty, Clara, Doris, Dorothea, Eleanor, Evelyn, Gladys, Gwendolyn, Hazel, Jacqueline, Katherine, Laura, Louise, Lucille, Margaret, Maria, Marian, Marie, Marion, Mary, Patricia, Violet
  • 1: Adamae, Alberta, Alma, Anne, Audrey, Augusta, Blanche, Carmelita, Caryl, Constance, Derelys, Dolores, Duane, Edna, Eleanor, Ena, Enriqueta, Ethel, Ethlyne, Evalyn, Flora, Gisela, Gloria, Gretchen, Hattie, Helene, Ina, Ingeborg, Jacquiline, Jean, Joan, Jobyna, Josephine, Juanita, Julanne, Kathleen, Kathryn, Kitty, Launa, Laurette, Lena, Lenore, Lilian, Lola, Lu Ann, Lucile, Madeline, Marceline, Martha, Mildred, Myrna, Natalia, Natalie, Nellie, Neoma, Olive, Olivia, Patsy, Rita, Rochelle, Rose, Sally, Suzanne, Sidney, Toshia, Vera, Vina

And here are the leftover stage names:

  • 5: Sally
  • 4: Mary
  • 3: Joan, June
  • 2: Betty, Jean, Judith, Pauline
  • 1: Alice, Bessie, Boots, Claire, Colleen, Dolores, Dorothy, Elinor, Evelyn, Fay, Frances, Gigi, Ginger, Gladys, Gloria, Gwen, Iris, Janet, Joyce, Julie, Karen, Kathleen, Lila, Lina, Lois, Lona, Loretta, Lucille, Lupe, Marian, Molly, Mona, Natalie, Patricia, Sue

(Often stage names were the real-life middle names of these women.)

Finally, a few interesting details:

  • Jobyna is Jobyna Ralston, named for actress Jobyna Howland, daughter of a man named Joby Howland. Jobyna debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1927.
  • Derelys is Derelys Perdue. “Perdue’s boss, future presidential father Joseph P. Kennedy, insisted on changing her name to the more palatable Ann Perdue.” She sued, but lost, and her career never recovered. Derelys was a one-hit wonder on the SSA’s baby name list in 1924.
  • Sidney is Sidney Fox, a female who had the name Sidney/Sydney long before the name became trendy for girls.
  • Lina is Lina Basquette, who I mentioned in last week’s name quote post.
  • One of the Marys is Mary Astor, who went on to give her daughter a Hawaiian name.

Which of the above names do you like best? Why?

Source: Derelys Perdue – Biography – Movies & TV – NYTimes.com

Female Names in Texas, 1860

Vicki Betts, a librarian at the University of Texas, put together a neat list of female names using the 1860 census records for Smith County, Texas.

Here’s some background information, per Vicki:

Ninety per cent of the people had emigrated to the county within the preceding ten years, 95.8% born in the states of the future Confederacy, 1.8% in the border states, 1.6% in northern states, and 0.8% in foreign countries. Therefore, these name should be fairly representative of Southern female names in general, with the exception of Alamo, Texas, Texana, etc.

And now the names! Here are the names that appeared most frequently on the 1860 Smith County census:

Mary, 501
Sarah, 271
Martha, 247
Elizabeth, 218
Jane, 199
Ann, 198
Nancy, 176
Margaret, 98
Susan, 95
Frances, 94
Eliza, 74
Amanda, 65
Louisa, 61
Laura, 52
Lucinda, 50
Rebecca, 50
Emily, 49
Catherine, 48
Caroline, 41
Julia, 39
Anna, 31
Isabella, 28
Ellen, 26
Josephine, 25
Harriet, 24
Emmer, 22
Lucy, 22
Rachel, 22
Melissa, 18
Adeline, 17
Malinda, 17
Matilda, 16
Allice, 15
Mariah, 15
Virginia, 15
Minerva, 14
Ella, 13
Eveline, 13
Charlotte, 12
Cynthia, 10
Evaline, 10
Victoria, 10
Emeline, 9
Hannah, 9
Hellen, 9
Theodosia, 9
Angeline, 8
Eudora, 8
Eugenia, 8
Mahala, 8
Ophelia, 8
Permelia, 8
Dorotha, 7
Fannie, 7
Missouri, 7
Olive, 7
Samantha, 7
Tabitha, 7
Ada, 6
Charity, 6
Delilah, 6
Flora, 6
Georgia, 6
Tennessee, 6

Names in the 2-to-5 range:

  • 5: Clementine, Cyntha, Florence, Ida, Joannah, Narcissa, Priscilla, Serena, Texana, Texas
  • 4: Almeda, Amelia, Augusta, Celia, Clara, Cornelia, Dicy, Dora, Henrietta, Janetta, Louisiana, Louvenia, Lulah, Mollie, Parmelia, Penelope, Ruth, Susannah
  • 3: Alma, Amarillo, Angelina, Antonette, Carrie, Casandra, Christiana, Clarissa, Cora, Cordelia, Edna, Emma, Ester, Fanny, Irena, Jemima, Kesiah, Leona, Leonora, Lucretia, Lyddia, Manerva, Maranda, Morando, Mildred, Milly, Narcissus, Olevia, Piety, Rhoda, Sallie, Sefrona, Sophrona, Telulah, Zelida
  • 2: Abigal, Adaline, Adelia, Agnes, Alabama, Alcasarah, America, Amy, Annetta, Araminta, Armelia, Arrenia, Candis, Caledonia, Celina, Easter, Eller, Elvira, Epsey, Exer, Henryetta, Jaly, Judy, Leah, Luella, Madora, Malissa, Marsileet, Medorah, Melinda, Mattie, Minnie, Moranda, Nelly, Olivia, Priscella, Rhody, Roxana, Salena, Sirena, Sophia, Temperance, Viola, Willie

Finally, names that appeared only once:

Abbigal
Abi
Absaly
Adah
Adalade
Adaline
Addia
Adelade
Adella
Ader
Aimenetta
Alamanzer
Alamo
Alcisty
Alis
Allethia
Almanda
Alphine
Alsey
Althie
Alvarado
Alvira
Amarantha
Amarylles
Amazor
Ameda
Americus
Amira
Ansebell
Appy
Arabella
Arainetta
Aramintha
Aranda
Arcadia
Ardalla
Armedilla
Armel
Armelda
Arminda
Artele
Arvezene
Arvilla
Atha
Audella
Aurire
Azeline
Barbary
Belzora
Bendett
Bernessa
Bethania
Bethany
California
Callie
Camella
Camilla
Candas
Candice
Cansandra
Carrentha
Casandre
Castero
Cecily
Celistia
CerroGordo
Christana
Cicily
Claranda
Claricinda
Conzada
Darcus
Deannah
Debra
Delila
Delitha
Della
Delmar
Derinda
Deziah
Dicey
Dilla
Dilly
Disha
Dlia
Dola
Domaris
Dorothea
Dovy
Drucilla
Dulcena
Dyca
Eddie
Edith
Editha
Elander
Eleanor
Elisa
Ellenor
Elmina
Elsy
Elvy
Elwina
Elzina
Elzona
Emaline
English
Eunis
Euphema
Euphemia
Euratasa
Evy
Falby
Fenette
Fillmore
Flore
Florida
Fransina
Georgana
George Eller
Georgiana
Harmoner
Hazeltine
Heepsebeth
Heland
Hester
Hetty
Hilery
Hutoka
Idella
Imogenia
Indiana
Inez
Irine
Isabelle
Isadora
Jeannah
Jerusha
Jessie
Joana
Joicy
Joly
Judah
Judith
Juliett
June
Kasandre
Kasana
Keburah
Keturah
Lailah
Larresa
Larrissa
Laurena
Lavacca
Lela
Leora
Leuella
Levega
Levina
Lewella
Lilla
Lillian
Lilly
Lina
Livana
Livona
Lizza
Loreey
Loreta
Lourana
Lourena
Lourenia
Louretta
Louvena
Louvina
Lova
Lovena
Lucretice
Lurana
Lurena
Lutitia
Luvena
Lydda
Madella
Madosa
Malabry
Mariella
Marietta
Marinda
Marion
Marbre
Marcella
Marcena
Marg
Matta
McReudry
Medarah
Melbry
Melvina
Mercena
Milley
Millison
Minor
Missoura
Mitty
Molly
Morinua
Mouring
Mourmen
Mourning
Nannett
Narcisa
Nebraska
Neome
Neomia
Nicy
Nina
Nisse
Occo
Octavia
Oja
Oliva
Omino
Orpha
Oudelia
Paralee
Paralie
Parilee
Parolee
Parthena
Pauline
Pemelia
Pernetta
Pernisia
Petrona
Phebe
Pheby
Phereby
Philliss
Pleasant
Pope
Prascovia
Pricilla
Prudence
Recella
Resalla
Reozia
Resiah
Rhina
Rosana
Rosanna
Rosena
Sabra
Sabrina
Salina
Samaria
Saphona
Saphrona
Sareta
Sebrina
Sefrone
Seleta
Selethia
Selina
Shaby
Sharlotti
Silena
Sina
Sirena
Sobrina
Sofrona
Solona
Sonora
Sophier
Stacy
Surana
Tabetha
Taletha
Talitha
Telpha
Teressa
Texanah
Texanna
Theodora
Theressa
Tranquilla
Trephemia
Ululie
Vanburena
Vandalia
Varlinda
Vashti
Vasti
Verlinda
Vertula
Victora
Victorier
Vina
Vinolia
Violet
Vunavista
Wennyford
Wilford
Wilmouth
Wineford
Winerfred
Winnaford
Winnfred
Zarilla
Zeban
Zeleame
Zira
Zouley

See any names you like? Any that make you curious?

Here are some thoughts I had:

  • Location names were more common than I thought they’d be. Seven females named Missouri? Six named Tennessee? Huh.
  • I love that Emmer appeared 22 times, while Emma appeared a mere 3 times.
  • The Battle of Cerro Gordo (1847) inspired a handful of namesakes. Cerro gordo is Spanish for “fat hill.”
  • Hutoka: Or, The Maid of the Forest: a Tale of the Indian Wars (1846) by Osgood Bradbury inspired several hundred namesakes nationwide. The book claimed that the fictitious Native American name Hutoka meant “springing fawn.”
  • Martin Van Buren — no doubt the inspiration behind Vanburena — was president of the U.S. from 1837 to 1841.
  • I’m thinking Vunavista was based on buena vista, Spanish for “good view.”

Source: Female First Names in the 1860 Smith County, Texas, Census, via Vicki Betts

The 20 Children of Johann Sebastian Bach

German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) had a total of 20 children.

He had seven with his first wife, Maria Barbara Bach (who was his 2nd cousin). Four of these children survived to adulthood.

  1. Catharina Dorothea (b. 1708)
  2. Wilhelm Friedemann (b. 1710)
  3. Maria Sophia (twin, b. 1713)
  4. Johann Christoph (twin, b. 1713)
  5. Carl Philipp Emanuel (b. 1714)
  6. Johann Gottfried Bernhard (b. 1715)
  7. Leopold Augustus (b. 1718)

The other 13 he had with his second wife, Anna Magdalena Wilcke. Six survived to adulthood.

  1. Christiana Sophia Henrietta (b. 1723)
  2. Gottfried Heinrich (b. 1724)
  3. Christian Gottlieb (b. 1725)
  4. Elisabeth Juliana Friderica (b. 1726)
  5. Ernestus Andreas (b. 1727)
  6. Regina Johanna (b. 1728)
  7. Christiana Benedicta (b. 1730)
  8. Christiana Dorothea (b. 1731)
  9. Johann Christoph Friedrich (b. 1732)
  10. Johann August Abraham (b. 1733)
  11. Johann Christian (b. 1735)
  12. Johanna Carolina (b. 1737)
  13. Regina Susanna (b. 1742)

Do you like any of these names? If so, which ones?

Source: David, Hans T., Arthur Mendel and Christoph Wolff. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.

110+ Hidden Gems: Rare Baby Girl Names

gemstoneWant a girl name that’s not popular, but also not made-up?

I looked through the names at the bottom of SSA’s 2011 mega-list and found a bunch of hidden gems:

  1. Alberta (9 baby girls)
  2. Alexandrina (6)
  3. Amity (28)
  4. Apollonia (21)
  5. Augusta (31)
  6. Augustina (15)
  7. Avelina (34)
  8. Bernadine (6)
  9. Bertha (45)
  10. Bettina (8)
  11. Blanche (6)
  12. Bryony (5); Briony (16)
  13. Carlotta (20)
  14. Celestina (19)
  15. Celestine (7)
  16. Cicely (14)
  17. Claribel (19)
  18. Clarice (37)
  19. Clarity (17)
  20. Claudette (9)
  21. Claudine (9)
  22. Clementina (7)
  23. Constantina (5)
  24. Coretta (5)
  25. Corinna (37)
  26. Cornelia (17)
  27. Damiana (10)
  28. Davida (10)
  29. Delphine (26)
  30. Dinah (44)
  31. Dolores (39)
  32. Dorothea (15)
  33. Edwina (8)
  34. Eloisa (42)
  35. Enid (15)
  36. Ernestina (5)
  37. Eugenia (29)
  38. Eugenie (8)
  39. Eulalia (25)
  40. Euphemia (5)
  41. Evita (13)
  42. Fabiana (47)
  43. Faustina (21)
  44. Flavia (12)
  45. Floriana (6)
  46. Florina (6)
  47. Georgette (24)
  48. Gertrude (16)
  49. Gloriana (22)
  50. Golda (34)
  51. Goldie (37)
  52. Heloise (8)
  53. Henrietta (34)
  54. Hilda (40)
  55. Imelda (23)
  56. Io (9)
  57. Ione (26)
  58. Isidora (13)
  59. Jeanne (39)
  60. Josette (27)
  61. Junia (17)
  62. Linnaea (12)
  63. Lucette (7)
  64. Lucienne (43)
  65. Lucilla (12)
  66. Marietta (22)
  67. Maude (9)
  68. Mavis (38)
  69. Minerva (38)
  70. Nanette (8)
  71. Nell (32)
  72. Nella (38)
  73. Nicola (30)
  74. Nicoletta (19)
  75. Nicolina (29)
  76. Odette (48)
  77. Olympia (22)
  78. Orla (28); Orlagh (6)
  79. Phillipa (10)
  80. Philomena (41)
  81. Phyllis (20)
  82. Rhoda (28)
  83. Romana (6)
  84. Rosabella (46)
  85. Rosalba (17)
  86. Rosaline (20)
  87. Rosella (26)
  88. Rosetta (25)
  89. Rosette (5)
  90. Rosina (17)
  91. Rowena (15)
  92. Rubina (5)
  93. Rue (13)
  94. Sebastiana (5)
  95. Seraphine (19)
  96. Sigrid (15)
  97. Stephania (32)
  98. Sybilla (5)
  99. Talulla (5)
  100. Therese (47)
  101. Thomasina (6)
  102. Thora (19)
  103. Tova (43)
  104. Ulyssa (8)
  105. Ursula (25)
  106. Vashti (16)
  107. Verity (38)
  108. Violetta (46)
  109. Vita (36)
  110. Wanda (23)
  111. Winifred (30)
  112. Winona (20)
  113. Xanthe (7)
  114. Zenaida (36)
  115. Zenobia (22)
  116. Zillah (9)
  117. Zipporah (41); Tzipporah (12)

(In some cases, a different spelling of the name is more popular than what’s shown here. For instance, Isidora is rare, but Isadora is more common.)

Like any of these?

Did you spot any other great end-of-the-list names?

See the boys’ list, or check out the Rare Baby Names page.

Namestorm 14 – Baby Names Inspired by Photographers

We’ve already done a photography namestorm, but I received a request for a namestorm about photographers specifically.

Some of these names I found in the comments to the the earlier namestorm (thank you Nancy, Bridgett and Julie) and others I found on various photography websites.

  • Alfred, for Alfred Eisenstaedt (who took that famous V-J Day shot) and Alfred Stieglitz.
  • Anna-Lou (or Annie), for Anna-Lou “Annie” Leibovitz.
  • Ansel, for Ansel Adams.
  • Berenice, for Berenice Abbott.
  • Carleton, for Carleton Watkins.
  • Dorothea, for Dorothea Lange.
  • Edward, for Edward Steichen and Edward Weston.
  • Eugene, for Eugène Atget and W. Eugene Smith.
  • Galen, for Galen Rowell.
  • Garry, for Garry Winogrand.
  • Harry, for Harry Callahan.
  • Helen, for Helen Levitt.
  • Henri, for Henri Cartier-Bresson.
  • Imogen, for Imogen Cunningham.
  • Irving, for Irving Penn.
  • Julia, for Julia Margaret Cameron.
  • Margaret, for Margaret Bourke-White.
  • Mathew, for Mathew Brady.
  • Richard, for Richard Avedon.
  • Roger, for Roger Fenton.
  • Robert, for Robert Capa and Robert Adams.
  • Timothy, for Timothy O’Sullivan.
  • Walker, for Walker Evans.
  • Yousuf, for Yousuf Karsh.

Who else would you add to this list?

What interests/activities should we namestorm about next?