How popular is the baby name Jerry in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Jerry and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Jerry.
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In September of 1957, the classic rock and roll song “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly came out. (This was just a few months after the doo wop song “Deserie” was released.)
“Peggy Sue” was on the Billboard Top 100 for 22 weeks in late 1957 and early 1958, reaching as high as the #3 spot.
Right on cue, the compound baby name Peggysue debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1958:
1962: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
1961: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
1959: 6 baby girls named Peggysue
1958: 7 baby girls named Peggysue [debut]
The name Peggy by itself also saw a significant increase in usage that year:
1961: 6,434 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 69th]
1959: 7,408 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 57th]
1958: 10,072 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 42nd]
1957: 7,379 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 62nd]
1956: 7,487 baby girls named Peggy [rank: 63rd]
No doubt many of these Peggys had the middle name Sue.
So how did Buddy Holly chose the name “Peggy Sue” for the song? He didn’t — he wrote a song called “Cindy Lou,” taking the names from his newborn baby niece, Cindy Carol, and Cindy’s mom (Buddy’s sister) Patricia Lou.
But the original song wasn’t working out, so the band experimented with it in the summer of ’57. One of the changes they made was to the name. The rhythmically identical “Peggy Sue” was suggested by drummer Jerry Allison, who was dating a girl named Peggy Sue at the time.
At the end of 1958, Buddy Holly started working on “Peggy Sue Got Married,” one of rock and roll’s first sequel songs. Sadly he didn’t finish the song before February 3, 1959 — the day that he, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.
If you were having a baby girl, and you had to name her either Peggy Sue or Cindy Lou, which combination would you choose?
Marion and Charlotte “Lottie” Story of Bakersfield, California, had at least 22 children — including five sets of twins — from 1922 to 1946. Seventeen of their kids are listed on the 1940 U.S. Census (at right).
I don’t know the names of all the Story children, but here are 20 of them: Jean, Jane, Jack, Jacqueline, June, Eileen, Clyde, Robert, James, Jeannette, Steve, Jerry, Terry (sometimes “Terrytown”), Charlotte, Scotty, Sherrie, Garry, Joanne, Frances (called Lidwina), and Monica (called Sandy).
Charlotte Story herself was one of a dozen children, born from 1899 to 1919. Her 11 siblings were named Pearl, George, Rhea, Hazel, Fern, Ira, Myrtle, Dorothy, Helen, Russell, and Viola.
And Charlotte’s mother Elsie was one of 13 children, born from 1865 to 1892. Her 12 siblings were named Edward, Levi, William, Frank, Rosa, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Margaret, Archibald, Gertrude, and Emma.
So here’s the question: If you had to choose all of your own children’s names from just one of the sibsets above, which set would you pick? Why?
In 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)
A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:
In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.
I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.
I would go about choosing the names differently, though.
Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).
But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.
The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):
Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.
And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:
To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).
What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?
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.