How popular is the baby name Evangeline in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Evangeline and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Evangeline.
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The long and short of it is that U.S. parents don’t choose long and short baby names as often as they choose mid-length baby names. The most popular lengths for baby names in 2016? 6 letters, followed by 5 letters, followed by 7 letters…yet again.
Here’s a chart showing the length breakdown for girl names:
The most-used girl names per length (from 2 to 10 letters) last year were…
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
Ziegfeld Follies, which appeared on Broadway almost every year from 1907 until 1931, was an extravagant production that included music, dance and comedy.
The biggest draw, though, was the bevy of beautiful showgirls.
It became a popular sport to guess which one would break out and become the next big star, like onetime showgirls Barbara Stanwyck, Paulette Goddard, Gypsy Rose Lee, Josephine Baker, and of course, Marilyn Miller.
Several Follies girls went on to enjoy successful careers in entertainment, but only two — Allyn King and Avonne Taylor — inspired baby name debuts.
In fact, Allyn and Avonne are the 4th- and 5th-earliest actor-inspired baby name debuts that I know of (after Francelia, Ormi and Seena).
Allyn King was born in North Carolina in February of 1899. It looks as though she was named after her father, Allen. (Her sister, Phoebe, was named after their mother.)
Allyn was a Follies girl from 1916 until 1920, and the name Allyn — which was already showing up regularly on the SSA’s list as a boy name — debuted as a girl name in 1918:
1926: 5 baby girls named Allyn
1925: 11 baby girls named Allyn
1924: 5 baby girls named Allyn
1923: 7 baby girls named Allyn
1921: 5 baby girls named Allyn
1918: 7 baby girls named Allyn [debut]
(I can’t include SSDI data for unisex names like this one because the SSDI doesn’t code for gender, making it difficult to figure out which people are male and which are female.)
Allyn King continued to appear in Broadway shows during the 1920s, and she was in one silent film in 1923.
But the pressure to achieve the skinny, boyish figure that was fashionable during the ’20s proved too much for her. Extreme dieting nearly killed her in 1927, and after spending almost two years recovering in a sanatorium, she was still so depressed in early 1930 that she jumped out of a 5th story window in New York City. She died two days later.
Avonne Taylor was born in Ohio, also in February of 1899, to parents Clifford and Diana. Her birth name was Evangeline, but she joined the Follies under the name Avonne. (I’m not sure how she came up with it.)
Avonne was a Follies girl from 1920 to 1922, and the name Avonne debuted on the SSA’s list in 1923:
1928: 9 baby girls named Avonne
1927: 12 baby girls named Avonne
1926: 6 baby girls named Avonne
1925: 12 baby girls named Avonne
1924: 17 baby girls named Avonne
1923: 11 baby girls named Avonne [debut]
Though the name was in use before 1923, it was too rare to appear in the publicly available SSA data. Here’s SSDI data from the same time period, for comparison:
1928: 3 people named Avonne
1927: 6 people named Avonne
1926: 2 people named Avonne
1925: 9 people named Avonne
1924: 11 people named Avonne
1923: 13 people named Avonne
1922: 4 people named Avonne
1920: 1 person named Avonne
1919: 2 people named Avonne
(For the SSDI numbers, I only counted people who had Avonne as a first name, not as a middle.)
Avonne Taylor went on to appear in a couple of films — one in 1927, the other in 1931 — and then left the entertainment industry altogether, it seems. She died in 1992 at the age of 93.
In early 1916, Photoplay Magazine came up with a list of potential titles for serial films using the formula established by The Perils of Pauline (1914), The Exploits of Elaine (1914), and The Hazards of Helen (1914).
(Just a few months after the above was published, The Mysteries of Myra came out.)
“Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night, and wouldn’t you love to” …know a little more about her name?
The Welsh name Rhiannon comes to us via the Mabinogion, a famous collection of medieval Welsh tales that was written during the 1300s (or possibly earlier).
What’s the etymology? Here are two theories:
Rhiannon’s persona is much older than the medieval text, however. She appears to be derived from the pre-Christian goddess hypothesized as Rigantona and also Epona, the horse goddess. Her pedigree within the Mabinogi also implies supernatural status as she is thought to be the daughter of the king of Annwfn, the otherworld; her name may mean maid of Annwfn.
The reconstructed proto-Celtic name Rigantona means “divine goddess.” The definition “maid of Annwfn,” on the other hand, would come from combining the word rhiain, meaning “maid,” with the place name Annwfn.
Before the 1970s, the name Rhiannon was rarely used as a name for newborns. The few babies that got the name tended to have a direct connection to Wales (i.e., either they were born there or their parents were).
Then two novels featuring the name came out: Song of Rhiannon (1972) by Evangeline Walton and Triad (1973) by Mary Leader. The first was based directly on the Mabinogion; the second was not.
Both books probably played a part in putting Rhiannon on the map in 1974:
1975: 15 baby girls named Rhiannon
1974: 5 baby girls named Rhiannon [debut]
The first book might have been the one with the word “song” in the title, but it was the second book that inspired a young Stevie Nicks to write her hit song “Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win).” Here’s how Stevie tells the story:
I got the name from a novel, I think I bought in an airport just before a long flight; it was called Triad, and it was about a girl named Rhiannon and her sister and mother, or something like that. I just thought the name was so pretty that I wanted to write something about a girl named Rhiannon. I wrote it about three months before I joined Fleetwood Mac, in about 1974.
The song was first released on Fleetwood Mac’s album Fleetwood Mac in mid-1975. It was then re-released a single in February of 1976, and, four months later, peaked at #11 on the Billboard charts.
The single is what made an impact on the baby name charts. Hundreds of baby girls were named Rhiannon in 1976, and the name entered the top 1,000 for the first time at an impressive 593rd. A year later it peaked at 418th.
Here’s how many U.S. baby girls were named Rhiannon (or a variant) from 1973 to 1980, sorted by 1977 levels of usage:
Usage cooled off after that, but rose again in the late ’90s and early 2000s, probably thanks to Fleetwood Mac’s successful 1997 tour The Dance and resulting live album, which features an extended version of “Rhiannon.”
The song was voted one of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” by Rolling Stone in 2004, but by then the name Rhiannon was falling out of fashion. In 2008, it dropped out of the top 1,000. In 2013, only 106 baby girls got the name.