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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Joseph

Number of Babies Named Joseph

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Joseph

The Surprising Source of Tierney

joseph mccarthy, adopted baby, tierney elizabeth
Joseph, Tierney and Jean McCarthy – Jan. 1957

The Irish surname Tierney first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1957. In fact, it was the top debut name of the year.

  • 1960: 18 baby girls named Tierney
  • 1959: 14 baby girls named Tierney
  • 1958: 26 baby girls named Tierney
  • 1957: 46 baby girls named Tierney [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

For a long time I’d assumed that Hollywood actress Gene Tierney was the cause. Then it dawned on me that Gene’s career was on the wane in 1957 — that the peak of her fame had been in the 1940s. So Gene wasn’t the answer.

But you know who was? The adopted daughter of the infamous politician Joseph McCarthy. (This makes Tierney a celebrity baby name, essentially.)

In early 1957, the Wisconsin senator (and zealous communist hunter) and his wife Jean adopted a five-week old baby girl from the New York Foundling Home. They named her Tierney Elizabeth.

Tierney’s first name came from Joe’s mom Bridget Tierney McCarthy; her middle name came from Jean’s mom Elizabeth Fraser Kerr. The name Tierney is based on the Irish surname Ó Tíghearnaigh, meaning “descendant of Tighearnach,” and the byname Tighearnach is based on the Old Irish word tigern, meaning “lord, master.”

The McCarthys brought Tierney home to Washington, D.C., on January 13. The same day, Joseph “announced over a nationwide television program [Press Conference on ABC] that he was a brand new father and invited photographers to his home for a preview of the new arrival.”

A second unfortunate event that gave the name another round of exposure was Joseph McCarthy’s death in May — a mere four months after the adoption. In fact, some newspapers (including the New York Daily News) re-ran the baby photos of Tierney alongside McCarthy’s obituary.

…Despite all this, I’m still left wondering about Gene Tierney’s influence. While she clearly didn’t inspire the debut, she had given the surname Tierney a strong feminine association. Was she the reason why the McCarthys opted for Tierney over Elizabeth as the primary name? Hm…

What are your thoughts on the baby name Tierney?

Sources:

  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • “McCarthy Blasts Eisenhower Palace Guard.” Redlands Daily Facts [Redlands, Calif.] 14 Jan. 1957: 9.
  • “Meet Miss McCarthy.” News-Palladium [Benton Harbor, Mich.] 14 Jan. 1957: 3.

P.S. Baby Tierney was in the news at the same time as baby Sindee.

Name Quotes #66: Brenton, Jacob, Gene Autry

It’s the last batch of name quotes for 2018!

Let’s start with a line from the Blake Shelton country song “I’ll Name The Dogs”:

You name the babies and I’ll name the dogs

From an article about dog names in New Orleans:

New Orleans dogs are often the namesakes of the cuisine (Gumbo, Roux, Beignet, Po-Boy, Boudin); the Saints (Brees, Payton, Deuce); music (Toussaint, Jazz, Satchmo); streets (Clio, Tchoupitoulas, Calliope); neighborhoods (Pearl, Touro, Gert) and Mardi Gras krewes (Zulu, Rex, Bacchus).

From an article about the names of Scottish salt trucks (“gritters”):

At any given moment, the trucks are working away to keep Scotland’s roads safe, with their progress available for all to see on an online map [the Trunk Road Gritter Tracker], which updates in real time. But a closer look at this map, with its jaunty yellow vehicles, reveals something still more charming: An awful lot of these salt trucks have very, very good names. Gritty Gritty Bang Bang is putting in the hard yards near Aberuthven. Dynamic duo Ice Buster and Ice Destroyer are making themselves useful near Glasgow and Loch Lomond. Three trucks apparently hold knighthoods–Sir Salter Scott, Sir Andy Flurry, Sir Grits-a-Lot. At least two (Ice Queen and Mrs. McGritter) are female. Every one is excellent.

(Some of the other gritter names are: For Your Ice Only, Grits-n-Pieces, Grittalica, Grittie McVittie, Luke Snowalker, Plougher O’ Scotland, Ready Spready Go, Salty Tom, and Sprinkles.)

From an article about the name Brenton being trendy in Adelaide in the 1980s (found via Clare of Name News):

No doubt the popularity of the name Brenton interstate and in the US is down to the paddleboat TV drama All the Rivers Run, which starred John Waters as captain Brenton Edwards and Sigrid Thornton as Philadelphia Gordon.

The miniseries first ran on Australian television in October 1983 and was later broadcast on the American channel HBO in January 1984.

From an article about baby-naming in New South Wales:

Once upon a time the list of top 100 names in a year used to capture nearly 90 per cent of the boys born, and three-quarters of girls. Now it’s less than half of either gender.

The reason is an explosion in variety, with multiculturalism and parents’ desire for individuality seeing the pool of baby names grow from 4252 in 1957 to 16,676 today. That’s 300% more names for only 30% more babies being born.

Professor Jo Lindsay from Monash University has researched naming practices in Australia and said parents today had more freedom and fewer family expectations than previous generations.

From an article about the 16-child Sullivan family of North Carolina:

They were, in order, Cretta in 1910, Leland in 1912, Rosa in 1913, Woodrow in 1916, Wilmar in 1918, Joseph in 1919, Dorothy in 1921 and Virginia in 1923.

The second wave included Irving in 1924, Blanche in 1925, C.D. in 1927, Geraldine in 1928, Marverine in 1930, Billy in 1932, Tom in 1934 and Gene in 1938.

[…]

Gene Autry Sullivan, the youngest of the children and the one who organizes the reunion each year, said he was told he was named after legendary cowboy movie star Gene Autry “because his parents had run out of names by then.”

(The post about Sierra includes a photo of Gene Autry.)

From an article about the challenges of growing up with an unfamiliar name:

Recently I was asked to give a talk to students at a mostly white school. I’d been in back-and-forth email contact with one of the teachers for ages. My full name, Bilal Harry Khan, comes up in email communication. I’d signed off all our emails as Bilal and introduced myself to him that way too. He had been addressing me as Bilal in these emails the entire time. But as he got up to introduce me to a whole assembly hall of teachers and students, he suddenly said, “Everyone, this is Harry.”

From an article about a college football team full of Jacobs (Jacob was the #1 name in the US from 1999 to 2012):

Preparing for the fall season, the offensive coordinator for University of Washington’s football team realized his team had a small problem. It went by the name Jacob.

The Pac-12 Huskies had four quarterbacks named Jacob or Jake (plus a linebacker named Jake and a tight end named Jacob).

From an article about Sweden’s even-stricter baby-naming laws:

The number of baby names rejected by Swedish authorities has risen since last summer, when the regulations were tightened.

The new law made it easier to go through a legal name change in some ways, including by lifting a ban on double-barrelled surnames, but regulations around permitted first names were tightened.

Some of the restrictions include names that are misleading (such as titles), have “extreme spelling”, or resemble a surname.

To see more quotes about names, check out the name quotes category.

Popular Baby Names in Alaska, 2017

According to Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, the most popular baby names in the state in 2017 were Emma and James.

Here are Alaska’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2017:

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Olivia
3. Aurora
4. Isabella
5. Evelyn and Sophia (tied)

Boy Names
1. James
2. Liam
3. William and Wyatt (tied)
4. Noah and Oliver (tied)
5. Logan

In the girls’ top 5, Isabella and Evelyn replace Amelia, Charlotte, and Abigail.

In the boys’ top 5, Wyatt and Noah replace Joseph.

Alaska is the only state in which fast-rising Aurora is a top-5 baby name. (Aurora is also popular in Italy.)

Source: Alaska Vital Statistics – 2017 Annual Report

The Unusual Name Olympe

olympe bradna, radio and movie guide
Olympe Bradna, 1940

Actress Olympe Bradna started appearing in bit parts in Hollywood movies in the mid-1930s. When she moved up to lead roles a few years later, the marketing campaign around Olympe emphasized her birth story and name. Here’s what Photoplay said in 1938, for instance:

Well then, on August 12th, 1921, not more than eight blocks from where the widely bally-hooed Eiffel Tower in Paris thrusts its snoot to the sky, the vaudeville couple known as Jean and Joseph Bradna clapped hands for a chubby little newcomer — and worried about their act, then running at the Olympic Theater. It was a routine with trained dogs and the young mother fretted about what the puppies might think of her desertion of them. Papa Joe went on himself that night and the act must have gone along smoothly for it wasn’t cancelled.

The little girl was christened Antoinette but because she was born while the act was at the Olympic, Papa and Mama Bradna added the name of Olympia in honor of the theater and a few months later euphonized it to Olympe, pronounced O-Lamp — and it has been that ever since.

Olympe Bradna retired from acting after getting married in 1941.

Source: Sobol, Louis. “Here is Bradna.” Photoplay Aug. 1938: 14.

The Emergence of Marjoe

marjoe gortner, baby names, 1970s
Marjoe Gortner, preaching, 1971

The rare name Marjoe has appeared in the U.S. baby name just twice, both times in the mid-1970s:

  • 1976: unlisted
  • 1975: 6 baby boys named Marjoe
  • 1974: 6 baby boys named Marjoe [debut]
  • 1973: unlisted

This name is similar to Uldine in that both are associated with something rather unusual: child preachers.

In the case of Marjoe, the influence was child preacher-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.

He was born Hugh Marjoe Ross Gortner to parents to Vernon and Marge of California in 1944. According to an early source, the middle name “Marjoe” was based on the name of his mother Marge. (His younger siblings were named Vernoe and Starloe.) Later sources claim “Marjoe” was a combination of Mary and Joseph.

Marjoe Gortner was a precocious child, and his family was full of preachers, so his parents (putting two and two together) decided to turn Marjoe into a child preacher. By the age of four, he was an ordained minister and could deliver about 40 different sermons from memory. His entire childhood was spent evangelizing.

By the early 1970s, Marjoe Gortner was in his late 20s and only in it for the money. In the autobiographical documentary Marjoe (1972), he gave viewers a behind-the-scenes look at “the lucrative business of Pentecostal preaching.” It earned critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in early 1973, but wasn’t screened in many theaters.

Following the success of the documentary, Marjoe pursued an acting career. He was most visible in the mid-1970s, appearing mainly on television. He could be seen on episodes of various TV shows (like Nakia, in 1974) and in several made-for-TV movies (like The Gun and the Pulpit, also in 1974).

What are your thoughts on the name Marjoe?

Sources: