Still waiting on the state data to know how much of this usage happened in Pennsylvania. The state data is out! PA was indeed the state that had the most Carsons, with 454 baby boys (8.7% of the national total) getting the name. This makes Carson the 11th-most-popular boy name in the state for 2018.
What are your thoughts on the results this year? Did anything surprise you?
[Disclaimer: Some of the names above were already moving in the direction indicated, and some were no doubt influenced by more than a single pop culture person/event. I leave it up to you to judge the degree/nature of pop culture influence in each case.]
It’s Elvis Presley’s birthday* — that means it’s time to kick off the annual Pop Culture Baby Name Game!
So how do you play the game? Simply brainstorm for baby names that could have gotten a boost in usage in 2018 thanks to the influence popular culture: movies, music, television, social media, video games, sports, politics, products, trends, etc.
Here are some names we can start with:
Araminta – movie, Crazy Rich Asians character
Astrid – movie, Crazy Rich Asians character
Avicii – music/news, the late Swedish DJ Avicii
Banks – celebrity baby (Hilary Duff)
Billion – celebrity baby (Rick Ross)
Braven – movie, Braven
Canon – celebrity baby (Stephen Curry)
Cardi – music, rapper Cardi B
Carson – sports, Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (particularly in PA)
Carvena – TV, The Four: Battle for Stardom contestant
The brief Spanish-American War (1898), which began in April and ended in August, inspired hundreds of patriotic parents in the U.S. to choose war-inspired baby names. Here are some examples:
Maine & Havana
One of the events that led to war was the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Cuba’s Havana Harbor on February 15. The explosion killed more than 260 men. Many people in the U.S. blamed the explosion on Spain.
The baby names Maine and Havana both debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1898.
1898: 9 baby girls named Maine (plus 5 more named Mayne)
Maine was a one-hit wonder on the list — a rarity that never returned — but Havana has been on the list dozens of times since (and regularly since 1995).
1898: 8 baby girls named Havana [debut]
The SSDI tells a more complete story (though it doesn’t offer information on gender). It indicates that 25 babies were named Maine and 12 were named Havana in 1898.
Dewey & Manila
War was formally declared on April 25. On May 1, the Battle of Manila Bay took place in the Philippines. The U.S. fleet, under the command of Commodore George Dewey, defeated Spain.
Usage of the name Dewey spiked in 1898, both for boys and for girls:
1901: 137 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Dewey
1900: 345 baby boys and 9 baby girls named Dewey
1899: 499 baby boys and 24 baby girls named Dewey
1898: 1,115 baby boys and 104 baby girls named Dewey
1897: 158 baby boys and 13 baby girls named Dewey
1896: 63 baby boys named Dewey
1895: 28 baby boys named Dewey
In terms of rankings, Dewey hit 19th (!) for boys and 305th for girls in 1898. Also that year, the spelling variants Dewie and Dewy debuted.
Going back to the SSDI, we see even higher numbers — 6,708 babies named Dewey, 36 named Dewie, and 1 named Dewy in 1898.
We even see evidence of Dewey’s spike on the U.S. Census of 1920:
1910s: over 4,300 people named Dewey were born
1900s: over 11,000 people named Dewey were born
1890s: over 12,100 people named Dewey were born
1880s: over 200 people named Dewey were born
1870s: over 100 people named Dewey were born
An article in the Reading Eagle in 1899 listed ten local babies named for George Dewey, and another article I spotted from decades later joked about starting a George Dewey namesake club.
We see a similar (though less pronounced) spike of in the usage of Manila for baby girls:
According to the SSDI, at least 161 babies were named Hobson that year.
(Hobson was a handsome Southerner who became a national celebrity following his month-long imprisonment. He became well known for kissing pretty young women as he toured the country. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch jokingly called him “the champion kisser of the universe.”)
The baby name Admiral was the rank of many of the men (e.g. Admiral Dewey, Admiral Sampson, Admiral Schley) who played a part in the war — Dewey especially.
1899: 13 baby boys named Admiral
1898: 25 baby boys named Admiral [debut]
According to the SSDI, at least 154 babies were named Admiral.
The baby name Shafter was inspired by army general William Rufus Shafter, who had command of the U.S. forces in Cuba during the war.
1898: 14 baby boys named Shafter [debut]
According to the SSDI, at least 58 babies were named Shafter.
The baby name Maceo was inspired by Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo, “one of the outstanding guerrilla leaders in nineteenth century Latin America. (He died in late 1896, actually.)
1899: 9 baby boys named Maceo
1898: 13 baby boys named Maceo [debut]
According to the SSDI, at least 34 babies were named Maceo.
The baby name Schley was inspired by Winfield Scott Schley, hero of the Battle of Santiago Bay.
1898: 10 baby boys named Schley [debut]
According to the SSDI, at least 39 babies were named Schley.
Finally, the baby name Philippina, possibly inspired by the Philippines, was a one-hit wonder the year of the war:
1898: 5 baby girls named Philippina [debut]
Interestingly, only one Philippina is accounted for in the SSDI data.
“Berks Babies Named in Honor of Dewey.” Reading Eagle 30 Apr. 1899: 4.