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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Esther

Number of Babies Named Esther

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Esther

A Star Is Born & a Name is Nudged

Vicki Lester, A Star is Born, 1937, name
Vicki Lester’s name in lights
outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

In April of 1937, the film A Star Is Born was released. It starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March as a married couple at opposite ends of their Hollywood careers: hers beginning, his ending.

The husband was named Norman Maine. The wife, on the other hand, had several identities. At first she was North Dakota farm girl Esther Victoria Blodgett. Then she morphed into movie star Vicki Lester for most of the film. Finally, in that memorable last line, she said: “Hello everybody. This is Mrs. Norman Maine.”

So how did she go from Esther Blodgett to “Vicki Lester”? Here’s the scene:

Press Agent: Do you know what her name is? Esther Victoria Blodgett.
Producer: Gee, we’ll have to do something about that right away.
Press Agent: …Esther Victoria Blodgett
Producer: Well that Blodgett’s definitely out. See, uh…Esther Victoria, Victoria, Vicki…how about Vicki?
Producer’s Secretary: Oh I think that’s terribly cute.
Producer: Let’s see, Vicki…Vicki what?
Press Agent: Vicki Vicki, pronounced Vicki Vicki. [sarcasm]
Producer: Siesta, Besta, Sesta, Desta, Fester…
Press Agent: Oh that’s very pretty.
Producer: …Jester, Hester, Jester, Lester…Vicki Lester!
Secretary: Oh I like that!

Everyone in the office started chanting the newly minted name Vicki Lester…and with that the star was born.

On the name charts, the entire name-group — Vicki, Vickie, Vicky, Vickey, and so forth — rode a wave of trendiness that started in the ’30s, peaked around 1957, and was over by the ’80s. It’s hard to say how much of this trendiness (if any of it) was fueled by the movie, but one thing definitely attributable to the movie is the higher-than-expected usage of “Vicki” in the late ’30s:

  • 1941: 542 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 274th]
  • 1940: 405 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 316th]
  • 1939: 334 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 355th]
  • 1938: 367 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 332nd]
  • 1937: 148 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 555th]
  • 1936: 82 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 738th]
  • 1935: 70 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 822nd]

Notice how the number adjusted downward in 1939 before the name was picked back up by the wave.

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that several baby girls born in the late ’30s were named “Vicki Lester.” In 1940, for instance, the Seil family of Washington included parents Orval (26 years old) and Beryl (25) and daughters Arlene (4) and Vicki Lester (1).

vicki lester, census, 1940
Vicki Lester Seil on 1940 U.S. Census

History repeated itself in 1954 upon the release of the first A Star is Born remake, which starred Judy Garland as Esther/Vicki. The name Vicki was again nudged upward a few years ahead of schedule:

  • 1958: 7,434 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1957: 8,101 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 51st]
  • 1956: 7,762 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 57th]
  • 1955: 7,978 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 52nd]
  • 1954: 8,220 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 50th]
  • 1953: 6,822 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]
  • 1952: 6,774 baby girls named Vicki [ranked 61st]

And, again, records from the mid-1950s reveal a handful of baby girls named “Vicki Lester.”

The second remake — the 1976 Barbra Streisand version — didn’t include the name change. Even if it had, though, the popularity of Vicki was plummeting by the ’70s and I doubt the film could have done much to boost its image/usage.

Currently the name Vicki is only given to about a dozen baby girls in the U.S. per year. But another version of A Star is Born is in the works — a Lady Gaga version slated for 2018. If this third remake materializes, and if it features the name Vicki, do you think it will influence the baby name charts?

(While we wait for 2018, check out the original version of A Star is Born (1937), which is in the public domain.)

Sources: SSA, U.S. Census


Popular Baby Names in New York City, 2015

According to data from the New York City Department of Health, the most popular baby names in the city last year were Olivia and Ethan.

Here are New York City’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2015:

Girl Names
1. Olivia (595 baby girls)
2. Sophia
3. Emma (tied)
4. Mia (tied)
5. Isabella
6. Leah
7. Emily
8. Ava
9. Chloe
10. Madison

Boy Names
1. Ethan (773 baby boys)
2. Liam
3. Noah
4. Jacob
5. Jayden
6. Matthew
7. David
8. Daniel (tied)
9. Dylan (tied)
10. Aiden

On the girls’ list, Olivia replaces Sophia as the top name and Madison replaces Sofia in the top 10.

On the boys’ list, Dylan and Aiden replace Michael and Alexander in the top 10.

Here are the top names broken down by ethnic/racial group:

Latino:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Isabella
2. Sophia
3. Mia
4. Emma
5. Camila
1. Liam
2. Dylan
3. Ethan
4. Matthew
5. Noah

Black:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Madison
2. Skylar
3. Ava
4. Olivia
5. Mia
1. Noah
2. Liam
3. Aiden
4. Jeremiah
5. Ethan/Josiah (tie)

White:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Leah
4. Sarah
5. Esther
1. David
2. Joseph
3. Moshe
4. Jacob
5. Benjamin

Asian & Pacific Islander:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Olivia
2. Chloe
3. Sophia
4. Emily
5. Emma
1. Jayden
2. Ethan
3. Ryan
4. Muhammad
5. Aiden

New York City’s less-popular names (used 10 times each) included…

  • Damaris, Eunice, and Shirin (girl names)
  • Dimitri, Immanuel, and Ousmane (boy names)

The news release also mentioned that NYC’s baby name data goes back as far back as 1898. That year, the top girl names were Mary, Catherine, and Margaret, and the top boy names were John, William, and Charles.

Here are NYC’s 2014 rankings. For more U.S.-specific baby name rankings, see the U.S. name rankings subcategory. For international rankings as well, check out the full name rankings category.

Source: Olivia and Ethan Top Health Department’s Annual Most Popular Baby Names For 2015

Top Jewish Baby Names in Israel, Decade by Decade

Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority recently released decade-by-decade lists of the most popular Jewish baby names in Israel since the establishment of the state (in mid-1948).

Decade Top 3 Girl Names Top 3 Boy Names
1950s Esther, Rachel, Sarah Moshe, Yosef, Avraham
1960s Rachel, Esther, Ronit Yosef, Moshe, Avraham
1970s Michal, Keren, Merav Moshe, David, Yosef
1980s Michal, Adi, Moran Moshe, David, Roei
1990s Eden, Sapir, Adi Daniel, David, Moshe
2000s Noa, Shira, Yael Daniel, Itay, Uri
2010s so far Shira, Noa, Tamar Itay, Uri, Noam

In 5775, the top names for Jewish babies in Israel were Tamar and Ori (aka Uri).

Source: Israel’s most popular names by decade

Popular Baby Names in New York City, 2014

According to data from the New York City Department of Health, the most popular baby names in the city last year were Sophia and Ethan.

Here are New York City’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2014:

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Sophia
2. Isabella
3. Olivia
4. Mia
5. Emma
6. Emily
7. Leah
8. Ava
9. Sofia
10. Chloe
1. Ethan
2. Jacob
3. Liam
4. Jayden
5. Noah
6. Daniel
7. Michael
8. Alexander
9. David
10. Matthew

On the girls’ list, Ava replaces Madison. The boys’ list contains the same 10 names. Notably, Liam jumped from 10th in 2013 to 3rd in 2014.

Despite the Venmo “Lucas” ads, the name Lucas did not appear in the overall top 10 in NYC in 2014.

Here are the top names broken down by ethnic/racial group:

Hispanic

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Isabella
2. Sophia
3. Mia
4. Sofia
5. Camila
1. Liam
2. Dylan/Jacob
3. Noah
4. Jayden
5. Ethan

Black

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Madison
2. Ava
3. Chloe
4. Aaliyah
5. Skylar
1. Ethan
2. Noah
3. Aiden/Jayden
4. Elijah
5. Jeremiah

White

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Olivia
2. Esther
3. Rachel
4. Leah
5. Emma
1. Joseph
2. David
3. Michael
4. Moshe
5. Jacob

Asian & Pacific Islander

Girl Names Boy Names
1. Olivia
2. Chloe/Sophia
3. Emma
4. Emily
5. Angela
1. Jayden
2. Ethan
3. Ryan
4. Lucas
5. Aiden

(Lucas was also 4th on the Asian & Pacific Islander list in 2013.)

For more sets of rankings, see the name rankings category. For U.S.-specific rankings, see the U.S. name rankings subcategory.

Source: Health Department Announces Sophia and Ethan are 2014’s Most Popular Baby Names

Pennsylvania Family with 25 Children

In late 1899, multiple newspapers ran the story of Mary Swartwood of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Why? Because she had just welcomed her 25th child.

She was only in her early 40s, but had married her husband (Samuel) at the age of 14 and had welcomed her first baby at the age of 15.

Here are the names and birth years of all 25 Swartwood kids:

  1. Walter, 1872
  2. Louis, 1873
  3. Thaddeus, 1875
  4. Maud, 1876
  5. Cora, 1877
  6. Blanche, 1878
  7. Mabel, 1879
  8. Herbert, 1880
  9. Warren, 1881
  10. Elsie, 1882
  11. Samuel, 1884
  12. Daniel, 1885
  13. Ruth, 1886
  14. Alonzo, 1889 (twin)
  15. Gertrude, 1889 (twin)
  16. Elmer, 1890
  17. Calvin, 1891
  18. Florence, 1892
  19. Esther, 1893 (twin)
  20. Benjamin, 1893 (twin)
  21. Earl, 1895
  22. Jessie, 1896
  23. Edith, 1897
  24. Lottie, 1898
  25. Arthur, 1899

Out of the 25 names on the list, which girl name and which boy name do you like best?

Source: “25 Children in 27 Years.” Hartford Weekly Times 26 Oct. 1899: 6.