How popular is the baby name Essfa 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 Essfa.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Essfa


Posts that Mention the Name Essfa

The Mystery of Essfa

baby name essfa mystery

This might not be a mystery. It might just be my imagination running away with me. But I’ll put it out there anyway.

We all know there are flaws with the SSA data. I’ve blogged about the baby name glitch of 1989 and the Korea-Kansas mis-codes, for instance. And data scientist David Taylor made a slide deck illustrating several issues with the SSA data a few years ago.

So my question is this: Could Essfa, a one-hit wonder from 1921, be another flaw?

According to the SSA data, the name Essfa was given to 6 babies in 1921, and all 6 of these babies were born in Vermont.

But when we look for these Essfas in the SSDI, we get…nothing. Not a single Essfa from anywhere, born in any year.

This doesn’t prove anything, but it is very curious.

Then there’s the fact that all these Essfas were born in Vermont, a relatively small state not known for adventurous baby-naming. The SSA’s Vermont-specific data from 1921 puts oddball Essfa on par with classics like Emma and Julia:

All baby names given to 6 babies
in VT in 1921, according to SSA
VT,F,1921,Emma,6
VT,F,1921,Essfa,6
VT,F,1921,Germaine,6
VT,F,1921,Glenna,6
VT,F,1921,Gloria,6
VT,F,1921,Harriett,6
VT,F,1921,Julia,6
VT,F,1921,Kathryn,6
VT,F,1921,Mae,6
VT,F,1921,Margery,6
VT,F,1921,Wilma,6

Again, very curious.

After doing more research, I was only able to find a single person named Essfa who was born in Vermont in 1921. The intriguing part? She had multiple identities:

  • She was born Essfa Estella Bickford Vermont on May 7, 1921.
  • She became Essfa E. Davis upon marrying William Earl Davis in Vermont in 1937.
  • She became Essfa E. Millette upon marrying Rupert Frank Millette in New Hampshire in 1941.
  • She became Essfa E. Walker upon marrying Howard C. Walker in New Hampshire in 1953.
  • She became Essfa E. Davis (again) upon marrying Arthur I. Davis in Connecticut in 1964, and passed away in 1976 as a Davis.

And I found a sixth alias — in Billboard magazine, oddly enough. For decades Billboard operated a mail-forwarding service for traveling performers. The name “Essfa E. White” appeared regularly on their Letter List from 1945 until 1948. (She was also listed under the surname Millette once, in 1946.)

So we know for sure that one Essfa was born in Vermont in 1921, and that this Essfa used at least six different names (if you count Davis twice) throughout her lifetime.

At this point, I can’t help but wonder whether this particular Essfa was counted 6 different times in the SSA data somehow.

What do you think?

Source: Billboard – Wikipedia

The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989 – Christop, Alexandr, Elizabet

The Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989

While doing some name research recently, I noticed a whole bunch of typos like “Christop” and “Alexandr” among the top 1,000 U.S. baby names of 1989.

I figured all the typos must be coming from a single source, so I checked the SSA’s state-by-state data, starting with the larger states. Didn’t see anything in California, didn’t see anything in Texas…but then I checked New York, and there they were:

Typo# in U.S.# in NY% in NY
Christop (m)1,0821,082100%
Christin (f)92649954%
Stephani (f)63648977%
Elizabet (f)44541994%
Alexandr (f)301301100%
Alexande (m)30129999%
Katherin (f)27724890%

A few of the above may not be typos, but the fact that so many are concentrated in a single place suggests that most are.

Given the time period and consistent truncation, my guess is that one of the counties in New York started using a computer system in 1989 that only allowed the input of up to 8 characters per name.

Now the big question: Did this glitch skew the national baby name rankings?

Yes, but only for Alexandra:

Name(s)# in U.S.Rank in U.S.
Alexandra (f)7,67943rd (old)
Alexandra (f) + Alexandr (f)7,98041st (new)

All 301 of the baby girls named Alexandr were born in New York, so it’s likely that all of them are typos. If we add these 301 to the total for Alexandra, the new number nudges Alexandra up two spots to #41. (This would bump the names Brittney and Hannah down one spot each.)

UPDATE, April 2020: I scanned all of the SSA’s data for 1989 and found even more typos:

Typo# in U.S.# in NY% in NY
Jacqueli (f)157157100%
Cassandr (f)152152100%
Christia (m)828098%
Jacquely (f)504794%
Kristoph (m)4444100%
Anastasi (f)222091%
Francesc (f)1919100%
Dominiqu (f)1515100%
Nicolett (f)151280%
Annemari (f)141393%
Kassandr (f)1313100%
Johnatho (m)1212100%
Mackenzi (m)11982%
Sebastia (m)1111100%
Bernadet (f)99100%
Demetriu (m)99100%
Geneviev (f)99100%
Kristofe (m)99100%
Alejandr (m)8675%
Antoinet (f)88100%
Cassondr (f)88100%
Constanc (f)88100%
Francisc (m)8788%
Priscill (f)77100%
Annamari (f)66100%
Angeliqu (f)55100%
Francesc (m)55100%

Many of the above were one-hit wonders, which makes sense.

P.S. Here are two more glitches I’ve found since writing this post: the Korea/Kansas glitch and the Essfa glitch.