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, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Joseph.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Joseph


Posts that Mention the Name Joseph

The Lee Family of Hawaii

Louis Lee was born in 1921 to Chinese parents living in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was one of 13 children* and became multi-lingual while working at the family grocery store in Chinatown. His language skills came in handy later on, when he got a job as a Pan Am customer service representative.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Louis and his wife Lucille had a total of eight children, six boys and two girls. I don’t know the birth order, so I’ll list their names alphabetically:

  • Dean
  • Licius
  • Louann
  • Maycevene
  • Philmund
  • Rytwin
  • Taoward
  • Worldster (who became an ophthalmologist)

Here are the name explanations I’ve found so far: Maycevene was born on May 7th (1946), Rytwin’s name was based on the phrase “right will win,” Taoward’s name was based on the phrase “going toward a goal,” and Worldster was born in late 1943 when the book One World by Wendell Willkie was popular.

*Louis’s siblings were named Anna, Daisy, Edith, Elizabeth, Elsie, Grace, James, Joseph, Lillian, Pansy, Violet, and William.

Sources:

What Would You Name the Catfish-Riding Boy?

little boy, large catfish, old photo, texas, 1940s

This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.

The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.

The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.

So let’s turn this into a name game!

First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:

  • What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
  • What would you have named him?

Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:

Albert
Arthur
Carl/Charles
Clarence
Daniel
David
Don/Donald
Edward/Eddie
Ernest
Frank
Fred
Gary
Gene/Eugene
George
Gerald
Harold
Henry
Jack
James
Jerry
Jesse
Jesus
Jimmie/Jimmy
Joe/Joseph
John/Johnny
Jose
Juan
Kenneth
Larry
Louis
Manuel
Melvin
Paul
Raymond
Richard
Robert/Bobby
Ronald
Roy
Thomas/Tommy
Walter

For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)

(If you like this game, here’s a similar one from years ago: What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?)

Popular Baby Names in Rhode Island, 2018

According to Rhode Island’s Department of Health, the most popular baby names in the state in 2018 were Olivia and Liam.

Here are Rhode Island’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names
1. Olivia, 60 baby girls
2. Sophia, 53
3. Isabella, 52
4. Amelia, 51 (tie)
4. Mia, 51 (tie)
6. Emma, 48
7. Charlotte, 44
8. Ava, 34 (tie)
8. Avery, 34 (tie)
10. Abigail, 32 (tie)
10. Grace, 32 (tie)

Boy Names
1. Liam, 66 baby boys
2. Noah, 58
3. Benjamin, 47 (tie)
3. Oliver, 47 (tie)
5. Alexander, 45
6. Logan, 44
7. Jacob, 41
8. Julian, 39
9. Ethan, 38 (tie)
9. John, 38 (tie)

In the girls’ top 10, Avery and Grace replace Aria (now tied for 12th).

In the boys’ top 10, lots has changed: Oliver, Alexander, Jacob, Ethan and John replace Lucas (now tied for 11th), Michael (tied for 12th), Mason (22nd), Matthew (tied for 33rd), and Joseph (tied for 33rd).

(These rankings are based on provisional data covering the year up to late December.)

In 2017, the top names were Emma and Liam.

Source: Top 50 R.I. baby names of 2018

Popular Baby Names in New Jersey, 2018

new jersey baby names 2018

According to the Government of New Jersey, the most popular baby names in the state in 2018 were Emma and Liam.

Here are New Jersey’s top 10 girl names and top 10 boy names of 2018:

Girl Names
1. Emma
2. Isabella
3. Olivia
4. Mia
5. Ava
6. Sophia
7. Charlotte
8. Emily
9. Amelia
10. Leah

Boy Names
1. Liam
2. Noah
3. Jacob
4. Matthew
5. Michael
6. Joseph
7. Lucas
8. Dylan
9. Logan
10. Benjamin

Source: Top New Jersey baby names of 2018!

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.