How popular is the baby name Joan in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Joan and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Joan.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Joan

Number of Babies Named Joan

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Joan

Poll: Pick a Pair of Toni Twin Names

joan and jean mcmillan, twins, 1949While looking at multiples from 1944 last month, I found sources claiming that both Mary & Marjorie Vaughan and Lois & Lucille Barnes were the “original” twins in the ads for Toni Home Permanents (tagline: “Which twin has the Toni?”).

Many sets of twins were involved in the Toni ad campaigns of the ’40s, though, so I’m not sure if any single set of twins can be called the “original” twins. For example, a November 1949 issue of LIFE included a full-page Toni ad with six sets of twins:

  • Eleanor and Jeanne Fulstone of Nevada
  • Betty and Barbara Land of Virginia
  • Barbara and Beverly Lounsbury of New Jersey
  • Joan and Jean McMillan of Texas (pictured)
  • Marjorie and Mary Vaughan of Indiana
  • Charlotte and Antoinette Winkelmann of New York

Let’s pretend you’re about to have twin girls, and you have to give them one of the name-pairs above. Which pair do you choose?

Pick a pair...

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Babies Named for Jeanne d’Arc

Joan of Arc, Jeanne d'ArcJeanne d’Arc (1412-1431), known as Joan of Arc in English, was a French peasant, Christian mystic, and teenage warrior during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between France and England.

Well, she wasn’t a “warrior” exactly, as she never actually fought in battle. She was more of an “inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon.”

In any case, she ended up being captured by the enemy, convicted of heresy and witchcraft (among other things), excommunicated from the church, and burned at the stake — all before the age of 20.

But a few decades later the verdict was overturned, the excommunication was invalidated, and she was declared a martyr.

And during the centuries that followed, her reputation grew — especially among the French.

Despite all this, the well-known St. Joan didn’t officially become a Roman Catholic saint until the early 20th century. She was canonized in May of 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The same year, the full French form of her name, Jeannedarc, debuted on the U.S. baby name charts and reappeared several more times during the same decade:

  • 1927: unlisted
  • 1926: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1923: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1922: unlisted
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1920: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

And that’s not all. Records show that more than a few of the babies simply named Jeanne and Joan in the 1920s had as middle names “d’Arc” and “of Arc.” Two examples:

  • Jeanne D’Arc Florabel Menard, daughter of David and Georgiana Menard, born in Vermont in 1924.
  • Joan of Arc Mary Agnes Chabot, daughter of Thomas and Zelia Chabot, born in Vermont in 1923.

A disproportionate number of these 1920s babies named Jeanne d’Arc and Joan of Arc were born in the Northeastern U.S. to families of French (Canadian) extraction.

Interestingly, St. Joan herself only used the medieval spelling of her name, “Jehanne,” and never included the surname “d’Arc,” which was a form of her father’s surname. In fact, if she’d been forced to use a surname, she likely would have chosen her mother’s, Romée, as per hometown tradition. The surname Romée denoted someone who had made a pilgrimage (though not necessarily to Rome).

Sources: Joan of Arc – Wikipedia, Joan of Arc – Facts & Summary –, 7 Surprising Facts About Joan of Arc

Round-up of Multiples from 1944

The Badgett Quadruplets in 1944
Jeraldine, Joan, Jean, and Janet Badgett © LIFE

Oodles of multiples — eight sets of twins, one set of triplets, six sets of quadruplets, and one set of quintuplets — were featured in an early 1944 issue of LIFE magazine. Most of these multiples had been born in the 1920s and 1930s.

Curious about the names? I knew you would be! Here they are, along with ages and other details.


  • Marjorie and Mary Vaughan, 19.
  • Lois and Lucille Barnes, 21.
  • Betty and Lenore Wade, early 20s.
  • Robert “Bobby” and William “Billy” Mauch, 22.
    • They had starred in the 1937 movie The Prince and the Pauper.
  • Blaine and Wayne Rideout, 27.
    • They had been track stars at the University of North Texas in the late 1930s along with another set of twins, Elmer and Delmer Brown.
  • Charles and Horace Hildreth, 41.
    • Horace was elected Governor of Maine later the same year.
  • Ivan and Malvin Albright, 47.
  • Auguste and Jean Piccard, 60.
    • “Honors as the world’s most distinguished pair of twins must go to Jean and Auguste Piccard, stratosphere balloonists, who are so identical that not everyone realizes there are two of them.”


  • Diane Carol, Elizabeth Ann, and Karen Lynn Quist, 11 months.


  • Claire (boy), Cleo (boy), Clayton (boy), and Connie (girl) Brown, 3.
  • Janet, Jean, Jeraldine, and Joan Badgett, 5.
    • “The customary alliteration in multiple names accounts for the “J” in Jeraldine.”
  • Felix (boy), Ferdinand (boy), Frances (girl), and Frank (boy) Kasper, 7.
  • James (boy), Jay (boy), Jean (girl), and Joan (girl) Schense, 13.
  • Edna, Wilma, Sarah, and Helen Morlok — the Morlok Quads — 13.
  • Anthony, Bernard, Carl, and Donald Perricone, 14.
    • “Their Beaumont neighbors call them “A,” “B,” “C” and “D” for short.”


  • Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie, and Yvonne Dionne — the Dionne Quints — 9.

Which of these sets of names do you like best? Why?

Source: “Twins: Accident of Their Birth Sets Them Apart from Other People.” LIFE 6 Mar. 1944: 91-99.

The Movie-Star Baby Name Franchot

Franchot Tone, 1930s
Franchot Tone
Uniquely named female film stars were inspiring debuts on the baby name charts as early as the 1910s, starting with Francelia in 1912.

But the first male film star to inspire a baby name debut didn’t come along until the 1930s.

That film star was actor Franchot Tone. He shot to fame in 1933, the year he appeared in seven films — including one with Jean Harlow, another with Loretta Young, and two with Joan Crawford (his future wife).

The name Franchot debuted on the SSA’s baby name list the very next year:

  • 1938: 7 baby boys named Franchot
  • 1937: 10 baby boys named Franchot
  • 1936: 21 baby boys named Franchot
  • 1935: 6 baby boys named Franchot
  • 1934: 9 baby boys named Franchot [debut]
  • 1933: unlisted

In fact, it was one of the top baby name debuts of 1934.

The usage of Franchot peaked in 1936, the year Tone appeared in the very successful 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty. (Movita, Marlon Brando’s future wife, was also in the film.)

Franchot Tone’s birth name was Stanislaus Pascal Franchot Tone. Franchot, pronounced fran-cho, was his mother’s maiden name. It’s one of the many names (and surnames) that can be traced back to the Late Latin Franciscus, meaning “Frankish” or “Frenchman.”

What do you think of the baby name Franchot?

Source: Franchot Tone – Wikipedia

Which Hurricane-Inspired Sibset Do You Like Best?

Tracks of Atlantic-Pacific crossover hurricanes
Tracks of Atlantic-Pacific crossover hurricanes

An Atlantic-Pacific crossover hurricane is one that developed in the Atlantic Ocean and moved into the Pacific Ocean (or, more rarely, the other way around) without dissipating/re-developing.

There have been about ten crossover storms that we know of, and five were named. In fact, they were named twice because they received new designations after the crossover.

  • In 1971, Atlantic Hurricane Irene became Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Olivia.
  • In 1974, Atlantic Hurricane Fifi became Northeast Pacific Tropical Storm Orlene.
  • In 1978, Atlantic Hurricane Greta became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Olivia.
  • In 1988, Atlantic Hurricane Joan became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Miriam.
  • In 1996, Atlantic Hurricane Cesar became Northeast Pacific Hurricane Douglas.

Let’s pretend these name-pairs are actually sibsets. Which pairing do you like best?

Which pairing do you like best for siblings?

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Sources: List of Atlantic–Pacific crossover hurricanes, What tropical storms and hurricanes have moved from the Atlantic to the Northeast Pacific or vice versa?
Image: “Tracks of Atlantic-Pacific crossover storms” by Cyclonebiskit

Popular Girl Names: Biblical vs. Non-Biblical

The ratio of Biblical names to non-Biblical names in the girl’s top 20 is about the same today as it was 100 years ago, though the ratio did change a bit mid-century.

(In contrast, there’s been a steady increase in the number of Biblical-origin names among the top boy names.)

Here’s the color-coded table — Biblical names are in the yellow cells, non-Biblical names are in the green cells, and several borderline names (which I counted as non-Biblical) are in the orange cells:

Popular girl names: Biblical vs. non-Biblical, from Nancy's Baby Names.
Popular girl names over time: Biblical (yellow) vs. non-Biblical. Click to enlarge.
  • Biblical names: Abigail, Anna, Betty (via Elizabeth), Chloe, Danielle, Deborah, Debra, Elizabeth, Hannah, Isabella (via Elizabeth), Janet, Jean, Joan, Judith, Judy, Julie, Lillian (via Elizabeth), Lisa (via Elizabeth), Lois, Marie, Marilyn, Mary, Mia (via Maria), Michelle, Nancy (via Anne), Rachel, Rebecca, Ruth, Sandra (via Alexander), Sarah, Sharon, Stephanie, Susan, Tammy (via Tamar/Tamara)
  • Non-Biblical names: Alexis, Alice, Alyssa, Amanda, Amber, Amelia, Amy, Angela, Ashley, Aubrey, Avery, Barbara, Brenda, Brianna, Brittany, Carol, Carolyn, Catherine, Charlotte, Christina, Christine, Crystal, Cynthia, Diane, Donna, Doris, Dorothy, Edna, Ella, Emily, Emma, Evelyn, Florence, Frances, Gladys, Grace, Harper, Heather, Helen, Irene, Jennifer, Joyce, Karen, Kathleen, Kayla, Kelly, Kimberly, Laura, Lauren, Linda, Lori, Louise, Madison, Margaret, Marjorie, Megan, Melissa, Mildred, Natalie, Nicole, Olivia, Pamela, Patricia, Rose, Shannon, Shirley, Sofia, Sophia, Taylor, Tiffany, Victoria, Virginia
  • Borderline names:
    • Ava (could be based on the Germanic root avi or the Biblical name Eve)
    • Jessica (literary invention, but Shakespeare may have based it on the Biblical name Iscah)
    • Samantha (possibly inspired by the Biblical name Samuel)

Again, feels pretty weird to put overtly Christian names like Christina and Christine in the non-Biblical category, but oh well.

Here are the year-by-year tallies:

Year Top 20 names
given to…
# Biblical # Non-Biblical
1914 31% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1924 31% of baby girls 7 (35%) 13 (65%)
1934 32% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1944 35% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1954 34% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1964 24% of baby girls 9 (45%) 11 (55%)
1974 24% of baby girls 8 (40%) 12 (60%)
1984 26% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
1994 19% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2004 14% of baby girls 6 (30%) 14 (70%)
2014 12% of baby girls 5 (25%) 15 (75%)

Just like with the boy names, though, there’s a big difference between the 1914 and 2014 sample sizes — 31% and 12%. So let’s also look at the 2014 top 100, which covers 31% of female births.

By my count, last year’s top 100 girl names were about a quarter Biblical, three-quarters non-Biblical:

Biblical names (27) Non-Biblical/Borderline names (73)
Isabella (via Elizabeth), Mia (via Maria), Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe, Addison (via Adam), Lillian (via Elizabeth), Hannah, Anna, Leah, Gabriella, Sadie (via Sarah), Sarah, Annabelle, Madelyn (via Magdalene), Lucy (via Lucius), Alexa (via Alexander), Genesis, Naomi, Eva, Lydia, Julia, Khloe, Madeline (via Magdalene), Alexandra, Gianna (via Joanna), Isabelle (via Elizabeth) Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Charlotte, Harper, Sofia, Avery, Amelia, Evelyn, Ella, Victoria, Aubrey, Grace, Zoey, Natalie, Brooklyn, Lily, Layla, Scarlett, Aria, Zoe, Samantha, Audrey, Ariana, Allison, Savannah, Arianna, Camila, Penelope, Claire, Aaliyah, Riley, Skylar, Nora, Hailey, Kaylee, Paisley, Kennedy, Ellie, Peyton, Caroline, Serenity, Aubree, Alexis, Nevaeh, Stella, Violet, Mackenzie, Bella, Autumn, Mila, Kylie, Maya, Piper, Alyssa, Taylor, Eleanor, Melanie, Faith, Katherine, Brianna, Ashley, Ruby, Sophie, London, Lauren, Alice, Vivian, Hadley, Jasmine

Faith, Grace, Angela, Nevaeh, Natalie…all technically non-Biblical.

27%-73% is remarkably similar to both 25%-75% (smaller 2014 sample) and 30%-70% (1914 sample).

So here’s the question of the day: If you had to choose all of your children’s names from either one group or the other — Biblical names or non-Biblical names — which group would you stick to, and why?

Baby Named after Notre Dame Coach

Francis William “Frank” Leahy, who played football at Notre Dame under Knute Rockne, went on to coach the Notre Dame football team himself for 11 seasons (1941-43, 1946-53).

“While at Notre Dame, Leahy had six undefeated seasons, five national championship teams and an unbeaten string of 39 games in the late 1940s.”

Leahy retired for health reasons in 1954.

A week after he retired, Arnold and Mildred Penza of Kenosha, Wisconsin — parents of Don Penza, captain of Leahy’s 1953 Notre Dame team — welcomed their 10th child.

The baby boy was named Frank Leahy Penza, after Coach Leahy.

(The names of all 10 Penza kids, from oldest to youngest, were Donald, John, George, Dennis, Thomas, Joan, James, Mary Lynn, Diane, and Frank.)