So far I haven’t been able to figure out what caused either debut, though. Maybe you guys can help me out?
Here’s what I know so far…
According to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), the number of people named Ardis jumped from at least 10 in 1898 to at least 86 in 1899. (The SSDI is a better source of raw-number data than the SSA for the late 1800s and early 1900s.)
1901: 47 people with the first name Ardis
1900: 59 people with the first name Ardis
1899: 86 people with the first name Ardis
1898: 10 people with the first name Ardis
1897: 15 people with the first name Ardis
The SSDI data also indicates that the usage of Ardis was highest during three successive months: July (12 births), August (17 births), and September (12 births).
Getting back to the SSA data…when Ardis was at peak popularity from the 1910s through the 1940s, it was particularly trendy in the Midwest (especially Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin). This regional preference may have existed in 1899 as well, though it’s hard to tell.
Finally, a novel with the name Ardis in the title — Frank R. Stockton’s Ardis Claverden — existed in 1899. It had been published in 1890, though, so it probably didn’t cause the debut. (Unless it was serialized in the newspapers a decade later…?)
The SSDI shows that the number of people named Irva jumped from at least 7 in 1898 to at least 64 in 1899:
1901: 14 people with the first name Irva
1900: 18 people with the first name Irva
1899: 64 people with the first name Irva
1898: 7 people with the first name Irva
1897: 5 people with the first name Irva
The name Erva also debuted in 1899. Alternative spellings sometimes point to an audio influence like talkies or television, but the debuts of Irva and Erva predate most of these technologies.
So does anyone out there have any theories on either Ardis or Irva?
(And if you like doing baby name detective work, check out these other open cases!)
This week let’s finish checking out the top baby name debuts of all time.
I’ll be counting down the 50 most popular boy name debuts in five posts, from today until Friday. (I did the top girl name debuts a couple of weeks ago.) I didn’t break any ties, so this “top 50” list actually has 93 names.
I came up with explanations for as many names as I could, but I’m still stumped on a few of them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these.
Here’s 50 to 41:
Cordaryl, Devaunte, Jeffren, Naksh, Sanjaya, Tige & Trysten, 7-way tie for #50
Cordaryl debuted with 28 baby boys in 1986.
Inspired by Cordero Roberts, a character on the soap opera “One Life to Live.”
Devaunte debuted with 28 baby boys in 1992.
Inspired by singer DeVante Swing, a member of Jodeci.
Jeffren debuted with 28 baby boys in 2010.
Inspired by soccer player Jeffren Suarez.
Naksh debuted with 28 baby boys in 2012.
Inspired by Naksh, a character on the Indian TV show “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai.”
Sanjaya debuted with 28 baby boys in 2007.
Inspired by Sanjaya Malakar, a contestant on the TV singing competition “American Idol.”
One of the most impressive 19th-century baby name debuts was Corbett, from 1892.
Corbett was the highest debut on the SSA’s list until 1898 rolled around with the names Manilla, Hobson, and Admiral (all inspired by the Spanish-American War).
According to SSA data, at least 23 baby boys were named Corbett in 1892:
1897: 14 baby boys named Corbett
1896: 10 baby boys named Corbett
1895: 11 baby boys named Corbett
1894: 20 baby boys named Corbett
1893: 15 baby boys named Corbett
1892: 23 baby boys named Corbett [debut]
But the actual number was much higher. The SSDI indicates that at least 59 Corbetts were born in 1892:
1897: 27 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1896: 30 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1895: 51 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1894: 67 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1893: 48 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1892: 59 people named Corbett (SSDI)
1891: 5 people named Corbett
What gave Corbett a boost that year?
Sports. In September of 1892, boxer James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett defeated John L. Sullivan to win the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Even if he hadn’t won, the press leading up to the match would have popularized the name enough for it to make a splash. More than half of those baby Corbetts — 31 out of 59 — were born before the match even took place.
(That said, many babies born in those days were not named immediately after birth. So no doubt a portion of the early Corbetts were actually nameless until the day of the event.)
Usage of the name increased again in 1894, which is the year Corbett defended his title against boxer Charley Mitchell.
Jim Corbett ultimately lost the title in 1897, to Bob Fitzsimmons.
Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.
Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.
Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.
Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!