Just remember that the SSA data doesn’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t reflect reality all that well.
Same format as usual: Girl names on the left, boy names on the right. Numbers represent single-year decreases in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, usage of the girl name Mary dropped by 146 babies and usage of the boy name William dropped by 1,008 babies.
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and will write about others in the future. In the meanwhile, feel free to beat me to it! Comment below with the backstory on the fall of Shirley in the late ’30s, Linda in the early ’50s, etc.
This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.
The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.
The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.
So let’s turn this into a name game!
First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:
What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
What would you have named him?
Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:
For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)
Years before the the ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Ernest Shackleton led the Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica. The party set sail from Lyttelton, New Zealand, on January 1, 1908.
A few months later, a New Zealand newspaper reported that a local baby had been given an expedition-inspired name:
What would the infants say if they felt the full weight of the names that are put upon them? Since Lieut. Shackleton left for the Antarctic with the Nimrod a baby — presumably a boy — at Lyttelton has been christened “Nimrod Shackleton.” Shall we hear of a dainty wee girl being dubbed Mollymawk, and will these islands be by-and-bye picturesque with Albatross Jones, King Edward VII Land Smith, Penguin Peterson, Antarctica Adams?
I can’t find any record of the baby, but I can tell you that a “mollymawk” is a type of albatross whose name comes from the Dutch word mallemok (from mal, “foolish,” and mok, “gull”).
My dad came out to visit us in Colorado recently. He loves geology, so we made sure to take him to several different places with impressive rocks/terrain.
One place we visited was Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. In this park we spotted the above sign, which described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:
As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”
It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?
My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).
We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.
The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:
Here are ten interestingly named animals to start the week:
Canuck, crow. He was hand-raised in Vancouver, Canada, and his ongoing crazy behavior is being chronicled via Facebook, naturally.
John L Sullivan, elephant. He was a circus elephant trained to “box” (standing on hind legs and wearing boxing gloves). He was named for boxing’s first heavyweight champion.
Mattie, donkey. He was the baby of a mama donkey rescued from the floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew last year.
Mrs. Chippy, (male) cat. He sailed with Ernest Shackleton aboard the Endurance. He was owned by the ship’s carpenter, whose nickname was Chippy.
Nipper, terrier mix. He was the model for the famous “His Master’s Voice” ads used originally by the Victor Talking Machine Company. He was named for the fact that he nipped at people’s legs.
Owney, border terrier. He was a stray dog who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 1800s. He was named after an Albany postal worker called Owen.
Pot-8-os (or Potoooooooos), horse. He was a successful 18th-century racehorse. He “gained his extraordinary name by the stable-boy writing the word potatoes on his box, “potoooooooos.”” Other versions of the story spell the name other ways.