How popular is the baby name Isabel in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Isabel and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Isabel.
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The inspiration was either (or both?) of two 1916 films featuring characters named Ysobel:
The Yaqui, released in March of 1916. Ysobel was played by actress Yona Landowska.
Lieutenant Danny, U.S.A., released in August of 1916. Ysobel was played by actress Enid Markey.
(My guess is that the first film had more influence, both because it was released earlier and because another character name, Modesta, also saw higher usage in 1916.)
The rare spelling “Ysobel” is likely based on the Old Spanish version of the name, Ysabel.
In fact, did you know that the historic Spanish queen we call “Isabella” in English was actually known as “Ysabel” during her lifetime? (And her husband Ferdinand was actually “Fernando.”) Their initials, “F” and “Y,” were featured on the banner that Christopher Columbus created for his 1492 expedition to the New World.
The Movie Picture World, Mar. 18, 1916: 1847.
Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field-book of the Revolution. Vol. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, English showman and “Animal King” Frank C. Bostock brought his performing menagerie of lions, jaguars, elephants, camels, and other animals to various cities in Great Britain and America.
Given that Bostock was famous for hosting weddings (for humans) inside the lion cage, the following story isn’t too surprising:
On August 23, 1903, Bostock’s English-born, Brooklyn-based business manager, Harry E. Tudor, had a baby girl. At three weeks old, the newborn was taken to an afternoon Bostock show on Coney Island, at the Sea Beach Palace.
Bostock’s lion tamer, Captain Jack Bonavita, took the newborn inside the lion cage, which contained 27 lions at the time. “[H]e commanded them to stand on their hind legs, which they did, supporting themselves against the bars of the cage.”
He then conducted some sort of naming ceremony in front of several thousand spectators, choosing the name Isla for the baby because, he said, it paid tribute to Coney Island. The baby was then passed out of the cage “and the regular exhibition took place.”
According to New York City birth records, the baby’s name was officially Isabel, same as her mother. Regardless, she was always called Isla by the newspapers.
And why was she in the newspapers? Because she led a fascinating (if short) life.
During her childhood, Isla crossed the Atlantic dozens of times “and visited Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.” She spent her eighth birthday sailing to Europe aboard the RMS Olympic, and her 12th picnicking with a lion named Baltimore at Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
When her father took up flying, she took it up as well. She participated in aviation exhibitions in both England and America, eventually piloting a plane herself. Aerial Age Weekly said Isla was “known on two continents as the youngest girl aviator.”
Sadly, Isla Tudor died of appendicitis in 1916, one month after her 13th birthday. News of her death was reported in the New York Times, Billboard magazine, and many other publications. (In the New York City death records she’s listed as Isla, not Isabel; her name may have been legally changed at some point.)
In his book The American Language, H. L. Mencken mentioned a “woman professor in the Middle West [with] the given name of Eldarema, coined from those of her grandparents, Elkanah, Daniel, Rebecca and Mary.”
The woman he’s talking about did exist, but Mencken didn’t get her name quite right.
Elda Rema Walker was botany professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. And so was her sister — here they are, listed one after the other, in the University of Nebraska General Catalog for 1916-1917:
(Leva Belle’s names were also inspired by family — parents Levi and Isabel.)
So here’s the Elda Rema baby name formula:
First name =
First 2 letters of one grandfather’s name +
First 2 letters of the other grandfather’s name
Middle name =
First 2 letters of one grandmother’s name +
First 2 letters of the other grandmother’s name
Using the names of your parents and your partner’s parents, can you come up with any usable first + middle combos?
The best I can do is “Aujo Elhe.” Hopefully you can do better…
Nope, this isn’t a post about a pink smoothies. “Feminine blend” was a phrase Henry Louis (H. L.) Mencken used in his 1921 book The American Language to describe a female name created by blending two other names together. Here are the feminine blends he lists:
(Addie + Lloyd)
(Addison + Nellie)
(Adrienne + Belle)
(Ardelia + Wilhelmina)
(Elizabeth + Christine)
(Birdie + Pauline)
(Charles + Pauline)
(Leila + Elizabeth)
(Luna + Nettie)
(Marjorie + Henrietta)
(May + Elizabeth)
(Ola + Isabel)
(Olive + Louise)
(Romeo + Juliette)
(Rose + Bella)
If you had to use one of the above in real life, which one would you choose?