A couple of months ago, we looked at a long, year-by-year list of the top baby name rises. A month after that, we saw the corresponding list of top drops.
On that second post, Frank B. left a comment in which he asked about absolute rises and drops — because the lists only covered relative movement within the data. So I thought two more posts were in order: top raw-number rises, and top raw-number drops.
We’ll start with the rises again. Just keep in mind that the SSA numbers don’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t quite reflect reality.
Here’s the format: Girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the numbers represent single-year rises in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, the usage of the girl name Ethel increased by 155 babies and the usage of the boy name Chester increased by 106 babies.
So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…
I searched historical records for personal names including the word “snow,” and here’s some of what I spotted…
I found dozens of people named Snowball, including Snowball Craddock (female), born in 1915 in North Carolina. Here she is on the 1930 U.S. Census:
I found several people named Snowdrift, including Arthur Snowdrift Thornton (male), born in 1883 in Virginia.
I found dozens people named Snowflake, including Snowflake Reinke (female), born in 1907 in North Dakota. Here she is on the 1910 U.S. Census:
Notice how her older siblings have traditional names like Maria and Ludwig (their parents were immigrants from Germany) whereas she and her younger brother, “Theo. Roosevelt,” have much more creative/American names.
(By the way, did you that there’s a town in Arizona with the unlikely name Snowflake? The founders were a pair of Mormon pioneers named Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake.)
I found dozens people named Snowman, including Snowman W. Doe (male), born in 1924 in Massachusetts. Here he is on the 1930 U.S. Census:
I found several people named Snowstorm, including Snow Storm Stokes (male), born in 1906 in Arkansas.
“Sierra Sue,” a song that was a #1 hit in 1940 for Bing Crosby. A version by The Glenn Miller Orchestra also charted the same year.
The song was actually an updated version of an older song written by Joseph B. Carey (a “blind San Francisco organist”) in 1916. Carey died in 1930, and in 1939 the Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. sheet music company secured the rights to the song from Carey’s widow. The song “was probably revived because of the popularity of other western-style songs in the late ’30s.”
And, yes, a large number of the babies named Sierra in 1940 also had the middle name “Sue.” :) Here’s a Sierra Sue who was born in Kansas in 1940.
The Spanish word sierra, which refers to a mountain range, can be traced back to the Latin word serra, meaning “saw.”
In November of the next year, a movie called Sierra Sue starring Gene Autry was released. Here’s the scene in which Gene sings the title song:
Decades later, in 1985, usage of the name began to rise rapidly thanks to soap opera character Sierra Estaban from As the World Turns. Sierra was a top-100 name from 1993 to 2004, peaking in 1999 at 49th (just below Jordan, just above Sara).