Ilka Chase was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in New York in 1905. Ilka was also a character name in multiple films, including Ambassador Bill (1931) and The President’s Mystery (1936).
Ilona Massey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Hungary in 1910. Ilona was also a character name in multiple films, including Ilona (1921) and The Stolen Bride (1927).
Ina Claire was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1940s. She was born in Washington, D.C., in 1893. Ina was also a character played by actress Arlette Marchal in the film Forlorn River (1926).
Iolante was a character played by actress Maude Fealy in the short film King Rene’s Daughter (1913).
Iolanthe McSwatt was a character played by actress Flora Finch in the short film There’s Music in the Hair (1913).
Ione Holmes was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in the U.S. in 1890. Ione was also a character name in multiple films, including The Flirt and the Bandit (short, 1913) and The Last Days of Pompeii (1926).
Mifanwy was a character name in multiple films, including Mifanwy: A Tragedy (1913) and A Welsh Singer (1916).
Mignon Anderson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Mignon was also a character name in multiple films, including The Drive for a Life (short, 1909) and Mignon (short, 1912).
Milada Mladova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born Oklahoma in 1921. Her birth name was Annabel Milada Mraz. Milada was also a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film Hostages (1943).
Minna Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1877. Minna Gombell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Minna was also a character name in multiple films, including Perils of the Secret Service (1917) and The Oath (1921).
Moyna MacGill was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Ireland in 1895. Her birth name was Charlotte Lillian McIldowie. Moyna was also a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film Come on Over (1922).
Moyra was a character played by actress Alice Hollister in the short film The Shaughraun (1912).
Myrna Myrna Loy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in Montana in 1905. Myrna Dell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1924. Her birth name was Marilyn Adele Dunlap. Myrna was also a character name in multiple films, including The Face or the Voice (short, 1912) and Broadway to Cheyenne (1932).
Myrta Bonillas was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1890. Myrta was also a character played by actress Ollie Kirby in the short film The Trap (1917).
Myrtle Gonzalez was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1891. Myrtle Stedman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Illinois in 1885. Myrtle was also a character name in multiple films, including Salvation Nell (1931) and Rackateers in Exile (1937).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
In 1910, the Boston-based publisher H. M. Caldwell Co. ran the following ad for its “My Own Name” series of books in American Motherhood magazine.
It is the purpose of these charming little books to tell girls all about their names, information about the name, its origin, the name in history, the name in poetry, fiction and romance is given, also notable namesakes past and present.
It wasn’t much of a series, though, as there were only 25 names to choose from:
Alice (ranked 10th nationally in 1910)
Clearly three more names could have fit on that last line (next to Winifred), so let’s turn this into a game. Which three girl names would you add to this list? That is, give us three names you like that would also be logical additions to this list, given the time period. For instance, I think I’d add Iola, Della, and Bonnie. How about you?
(If you want to access the national rankings for 1910, click over to the SSA’s site and scroll down to “Popular Names by Birth Year.”)
A reader got in touch recently to ask about several unusual names. One of them was “Vouletti,” which belonged to a daughter of Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-1875).
Isaac Singer is best remembered for his successful sewing machine manufacturing company, founded in 1851 and still going strong today. Also notable, though, is the fact that he had a total of 24 children with five different wives and mistresses.
With Maria Haley, he had two children:
William Adam (b. 1834)
Lillian C. (b. 1837)
With Mary Ann Sponsler, he had ten children:
Isaac Augustus (b. 1837)
Vouletti Theresa (b. 1840)
Fanny Elizabeth (b. 1841)
John Albert (b. circa 1843)
Jasper Hamet (b. 1846)
Julia Ann (b. circa 1847)
Mary Olivia (b. 1848)
Charles Alexander (1850-1852)
Caroline Virginia (b. 1857)
…plus one more
With Mary McGonigal, he had five children:
Charles Alexander (b. 1859)
With Mary E. Walters, he had one child:
Alice Eastwood (b. 1852)
With Isabella Eugenie Boyer (of France), he had six children:
Adam Mortimer (b. 1863)
Winnaretta Eugenie (b. 1865)
Washington Merritt Grant (b. 1866)
Paris Eugene (b. 1867) – Palm Beach developer, namesake of Singer Island
Isabelle Blanche (b. 1869)
Franklin Morse (b. 1870)
These are traditional names for the most part, which makes “Vouletti” all the more intriguing.
Vouletti Singer was born in 1840, married William Proctor in 1862, had three children, and died in 1913. Though her name was definitely spelled Vouletti — that’s the spelling passed down to various descendants, and the one used by her friend Mercedes de Acosta in the poem “To Vouletti” — I found it misspelled a lot: “Voulitti” on the 1855 New York State Census, “Voulettie” on the 1900 U.S. Census, “Voulettie” again in a Saturday Evening Post article from 1951.
So…where does it come from?
I have no clue. I can’t find a single person with the given name Vouletti who predates Vouletti Singer. I also can’t find anyone with the surname Vouletti. (There was a vaudevillian with the stage name “Eva Vouletti,” but she doesn’t pop up until the early 1900s.)
Theater could be a possibility, as Isaac Singer was an actor in his younger days. Perhaps Vouletti was a character name he was familiar with?
My only other idea is the Italian word violetti, which means “violet.” Her parents might have coined the name with this word in mind.
Do you have any thoughts/theories about the unusual name Vouletti?