Independent baby name blog & directory, est. 2006.
How popular is the baby name Janie in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Janie and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Janie.
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Memphis-based radio station WHER (1430 AM), which was run almost entirely by women, went on the air in October of 1955. It was billed as America’s “First All-Female Radio Station.”
The station was created and funded by legendary record producer Sam Phillips — the guy who discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, among others.
WHER’s original staff included Sam’s wife Rebecca (Becky) along with seven other women: Barbara Gurley, Donna Rae Johnson, Dorothy “Dot” Fisher, Dotty Abbott, Fay Bussell, Phyllis Stimbert, and Roberta Stout.
Six of these eight ladies were on-air personalities with their own programs, each of which emphasized “some particular subject of interest to housewives” according to a 1957 source.
Which of the original WHER names do you like best?
(Dotty is usually a nickname for Dorothy, so I combined them in the poll.)
Vida Jane Butler, who joined WHER later in the ’50s, was known on-air as “Janie Joplin.” She’d been told that Vida “was considered too old-fashioned and too Southern for WHER,” and the data backs it up: the name Vida was indeed out of fashion and associated with the south at that time. These days, though, Vida is picking up steam — particularly in California. Janie, on the other hand, saw peak usage in the mid-20th century and has been in decline ever since.
Brigance, Linda. “WHER.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 18: Media Ed. Allison Graham, Sharon Monteith. Chapell Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.
The comic strip Dondi was first published in 1955.
The strip featured a little Italian boy who was orphaned during WWII. When he was discovered by American soldiers, he was looking for his parents, saying “donde?” over and over again.* So the soldiers dubbed him Dondi.
One of the soldiers adopted him and brought to the U.S. Logically, “the early focus of the strip was Dondi’s discovery of America.”
In 1956, the name Dondi appeared for the first time on the Social Security Administration’s baby name list:
1962: 48 baby boys and 24 baby girls named Dondi
1961: 50 baby boys and 19 baby girls named Dondi
1960: 17 baby boys and 10 baby girls named Dondi
1959: 14 baby boys named Dondi
1958: 23 baby boys and 5 baby girls named Dondi
1957: 31 baby boys named Dondi
1956: 19 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Dondi [debut]
One of Dondi’s first namesakes was Stephen Dondi Thomas, born in late 1955 to Mr. and Mrs. Leslie F. Thomas of Dayton, Ohio. “The Thomases named him as they did because the illegal entry problems of the comic strip Dondi closely paralleled the experience of their daughter, Janie, 4.” Born in Italy to an Italian mother and an American father, Janie was facing deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Both the strip and the name peaked in popularity in the early ’60s. The strip ran until 1986; the name last appeared on the SSA’s list in 2002.
*I know donde means “where” in Spanish, but I don’t know if it’s used in Italian. Anyone know? (Should the strip’s writers have used dove instead?)
“Comic Strip Orphan Gets a Namesake.” Chicago Tribune 26 Dec. 1955: C5.