How popular is the baby name Lindbergh in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Lindbergh and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Lindbergh.
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Mary Lou was born in Kentucky in early 1927. Her parents had asked a radio station to help them name their baby, the station aired the request, and the result was hundreds of baby name suggestions from across the nation. This is the earliest (complete) example of baby name crowdsourcing that I know of.
What did Seroba have to do with Mary Lou Bartley, though?
That’s what I wanted to know. So I read through the news items, all from 1927, and realized that each one was calling her “Seroba Mary Lou.” Which was strange, as all the sources I’d used to reconstruct Mary Lou’s story for that crowdsourcing post — everything from the 1930 census all the way to her 2009 obituary — referred to her simply as “Mary Lou.”
Here’s a caption that ran in one newspaper:
Seroba Mary Lou Bartley of Whitesburg, Ky., who has the distinction of being the first baby to be christened over the radio.
And here’s an excerpt from an article that ran in another:
During the evening [of the radio broadcast] two thousand names were suggested by the listeners, and the suggestions came from almost as many places. There were many who preferred the quiet dignity of “Mary,” and as many who were interested in a name as modern as “Mitzi.” All of the suggestions were forwarded to the Bartleys and after much thought they conferred on the little newcomer, this name suggested by the radio–Seroba Mary Lou. Long love this Virginia Dare of radio!
I have no idea where the name Seroba came from. Was it part of the crowdsourced name? Did a newspaper reporter make it up? I also can’t figure out why some newspapers mentioned it and others did not.
Regardless, the Seroba-version of Mary Lou’s story was circulated widely enough to boost the baby name Seroba onto the charts for a single year:
1927: 8 baby girls named Seroba [debut]
So that’s the explanation behind the one-hit wonder baby name Seroba. How crazy that it connects to a name we talked about for an entirely different reason more than three years ago.
What are your thoughts on the name Seroba — do you like it? Dislike it? Have you ever heard of it before?
I’m a baby name blogger, but sometimes I feel more like a baby name detective. Because so much of my blogging time is spent doing detective work: trying to figure out where a particular baby name comes from, or why a name saw a sudden jump (or drop) in usage during a particular year.
If a name itself doesn’t make the answer obvious (e.g., Lindbergh) and a simple Google search hasn’t helped, my first bit of detective work involves scanning the baby name charts. I’ve learned that many search-resistant baby names (like Deatra) are merely alternative spellings of more common names (Deirdre).
If that doesn’t do it, I go back to Google for some advanced-level ninja searching, to help me zero in on specific types of historical or pop culture events. This is how I traced Irmalee back to a character in a short story in a very old issue of the once-popular McCall’s Magazine.
But if I haven’t gotten anywhere after a few rounds of ninja searching, I officially give up and turn the mystery baby name over to you guys. Together we’ve cracked a couple of cases (yay!) but, unfortunately, most of the mystery baby names I’ve blogged about are still big fat mysteries.
Exactly 85 years ago today, 25-year-old Air Mail pilot Charles Lindbergh was in the middle of his non-stop, solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
His successful journey from New York City to Paris, which lasted from about 8 am on May 20 until about 10:30 pm on May 21, 1927, earned Lindbergh the $25,000 Orteig Prize and made him world-famous virtually overnight.
According to SSA data, hundreds of babies were named Lindbergh and Lindy that year:
Babies named Lindbergh
Babies named Lindy
64 boys, 6 girls
84 boys, 14 girls
176 boys, 16 girls
234 boys, 27 girls
11 boys, 8 girls
6 boys, 6 girls
Though the data makes it look like dozens of babies were named “Lindbergh” and “Lindy” prior to May of 1927, that’s probably not the case. It’s much more likely that these babies simply remained nameless until the event occurred. (At that time it wasn’t uncommon for American parents to wait months, sometimes years, to settle on a name. Emancipation Proclamation Coggeshall wasn’t named until she was two and a half, for instance.)
Here’s similar data from the SSDI (Social Security Death Index):
1930: 15 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1929: 21 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1928: 51 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1927: 70 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1926: 5 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1925: 1 babies with the first name Lindbergh
1924: 0 babies with the first name Lindbergh
I spotted a Lindbergh (right) in a mid-1932 issue of North Carolina Christian Advocate. His age wasn’t mentioned, but he was probably born circa 1927.
The variant spellings Lindberg, Lindburgh and Lindburg also got a boost in 1927. The latter two debuted in the data that year, in fact.
And, of course, many babies were given the first-middle combo “Charles Lindbergh.” The following Charles Lindbergh babies made the news:
Charles Lindbergh, son of Mr. and Mrs. Horace E. Lindbergh of Cambridge, MA
Charles Lindbergh Bohannon, son of Mr. and Mrs. Bohannon of La Jolla, San Diego, CA
Charles Lindbergh Erickson, son of Mrs. and Mrs. Carl W. Erickson of Worcester, MA
Charles Lindbergh Hurley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hurley of Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY
A few years later, in 1931, a Canadian baby who made headlines for being born in an airplane was also named after Lindbergh.
“3 Babies Are Given Name of Air Ace.” Painesville Telegraph 23 May 1927: 1.
“New Born Baby Gets Lindbergh’s Name.” Border Cities Star [Windsor, Ontario, Canada] 23 May 1927: 14.
“San Diego Baby Is Named for Aviator.” Prescott Evening Courier 8 Jun. 1927: 1.
Airlene of Miami may have been the first baby born in an airplane, but Lindbergh of Manitoba was probably the first baby to be born unexpectedly in a airplane. He was also likely the first baby to be born while flying over Canada.
A pregnant Mrs. Alex Miller had been riding the Hudson Bay Railway in Canada on 29 March 1931 when it was decided that she should be rushed to The Pas, Manitoba, for the delivery of her child. So she was loaded into a Fairchild monoplane owned by the Royal Canadian Air Force and piloted by Flight Lieutenant A. L. McPhee.
But the baby did not want to wait. He was born 15 minutes into the flight at an elevation of 4,000 feet.
He was named Lindbergh Wright Cook Miller. The first name honors aviator Charles Lindbergh, who in 1927 became the first person to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic. No explanation was offered for Wright, but I think it’s plausible that it was inspired by the Wright brothers.