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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lou

Number of Babies Named Lou

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Lou

Babies Named After Oscar DePriest

the baby name depriest
Oscar DePriest
The name DePriest debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1929, and usage peaked in 1930:

  • 1931: unlisted
  • 1930: 10 baby boys named DePriest
  • 1929: 5 baby boys named DePriest [debut]
  • 1928: unlisted

Where did the name come from?

Chicago politician Oscar DePriest, the first African-American from outside the southern states to be elected to Congress.

Oscar DePriest was born in Alabama in 1871. His parents, former slaves, moved the family northward to Salina, Kansas, after 7-year-old Oscar discovered a neighbor “who had been lynched and riddled with bullets.”

As a young adult, Oscar continued to move northward — first to Dayton, and finally to Chicago.

Chicago is where he met and married his wife Jessie in 1898, where he become wealthy thanks to his real estate business and investments in the stock market, and where he first got involved in politics.

Decades later, in 1928, Oscar DePriest was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Not only was he the first African-American from the North to be elected to Congress, but he was also the first African-American to serve in Congress during the post-Reconstruction period.

(In fact, Oscar DePriest was re-elected twice, and during all three consecutive terms he was the only African-American in Congress, becoming by default “the only voice in Congress for twelve million black Americans.”)

Needless to say, many people in the South were not big fans of Oscar DePriest.

In April of 1929, the members of the 71st Congress were sworn in all at once — as opposed to state by state, which had been the tradition up to that point — “in large part to prevent any challenges to the legality of DePriest’s seating.”

In June of 1929, DePriest’s wife Jessie made national headlines when she visited the White House to have tea with First Lady Lou Hoover. Southern journalists and politicians (including Coleman Blease) criticized the DePriests and accused the Hoovers of “defiling” the White House. The Georgia legislature, the Texas legislature, the Florida legislature, and the Mississippi legislature all passed resolutions condemning the event and the Hoovers themselves.

Here is part of Oscar’s reaction to the criticism:

“I want to thank the Democrats of the south for one thing. They were so barbaric they drove my parents to the north. If it had not been for that I wouldn’t be in Congress today. I’ve been Jim Crowed, segregated, persecuted, and I think I know how best the Negro can put a stop to being imposed upon. It is through the ballot, through organization, through eternally fighting for his rights.”

Thankfully, the DePriests also had plenty of supporters. And some of that support was expressed in the form of baby names.

More than a dozen babies were named DePriest in 1929 and 1930 (as we saw above) and more than two dozen other babies born in 1929 or the 1930s got the first-middle combination “Oscar DePriest.” Here are some examples:

And baby girls weren’t left out entirely. I found one born in Texas in 1929 with the first-middle combo “Jessie DePriest.”

Sources:

Image: Oscar DePriest, 5/8/29, Library of Congress


The One-Hit Wonder Baby Name Seroba

serobaA week or so ago I came across a curious one-hit wonder name from 1927: Seroba.

For context, 1927 was the year Lindbergh became big news, the year both Sunya and Jobyna debuted, and the year Arbutus nearly cracked the top 1,000.

So I started doing some research, and you know what kept coming up in the search results? A bunch of news items about Mary Lou Bartley.

Who’s Mary Lou Bartley? If you’ve been reading NBN for a while, you might remember her from that post about radio-crowdsourced baby names.

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:

  • 1928: unlisted
  • 1927: 8 baby girls named Seroba [debut]
  • 1926: unlisted

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?

Sources:

  • Radio Baby.” Sausalito News 28 May 1927: 3.
  • “WLS Listeners Name Kentucky Babe.” Wyoming Reporter [Wyoming, NY] 1 Jun. 1927: 3.

P.S. Usage of the baby name Marylou spiked in 1927 as well.

List of Female Names from 1888

female names, 1888

A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Source: A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names by George J. Howson

Is Olga a Horrible Baby Name?

In a Dear Prudie chat from November of 2012, an expectant mother asked this question about naming her baby Olga :

My husband and I are expecting our first child, a girl, around Christmas. We thought nothing could sadden us during this happy time, but were shocked last week to hear that my husband’s mother was taken from us in an auto accident. In his grief, my husband asked that we name our daughter after his late mother. The problem is that my mother in law’s name was Olga, and I just can’t fathom giving my child such a horrid name. I had been thinking something along the lines of Virginia or Lou Ann. I told my husband I would think about it, but he’s pressing the issue, and I need to tell him something. Am I being selfish for not wanting to name my child Olga, even under these circumstances?

This was (most of) Prudie’s response:

I think Olga is a lovely name, and if you used it your little girl would surely be the only one in the class. Your husband, and you, have had a shocking loss, so please tread lightly on the “Olga is a horrid name” line. You have a number of options. One, Olga becomes your child’s middle name, or you have an Olga Virginia, and she’s universally known by her middle name. In Jewish tradition children are named after deceased relatives, but that often mean that late Grandpa Saul is honored with a grandson named Steven. So you could possibly convince your husband that Olga can be morphed into Olivia or some such. There are many ways to include a remembrance of the grandmother tragically she will never know into your daughter’s name without making you cringe.

How do you feel about the name Olga?

If this expectant mother had asked you for advice about her baby’s name, what would you have said?

Central City Names – May, Lizzie, Lou

I visited the Gilpin History Museum in Central City, CO, recently and found a sign that said…

The last three madams in Central City were May Martin, Lizzie Thomas, and Lou Bunch (who bought her house from Martin in 1900). The Thomas brothel shut down in 1910. Bunch closed her house in 1916, giving her the distinction of being Central City’s last madam.

It immediately reminded me of Dixie, Elsie and Pam, the last three madams of Deadwood, South Dakota.

If you were having triplets (three girls), and you had to give them either one set of names or the other, which set would you pick?

I'd choose...

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Baby Names Typed by the Right Hand – Better?

Years ago, I came up with a list of one-handed baby names — that is, names that are typed with either the left hand or the right hand on a QWERTY keyboard.

Turns out there may be a slight advantage to right-hand names.

According to a study published recently in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, “the QWERTY keyboard may gradually attach more positive meanings to words with more letters located on the right side of the layout (everything to the right of T, G and B).”

Why?

It has to do with fluency.

We tend to like simplicity over complexity, and the harder-to-type letter pairs are on a QWERTY keyboard’s left side — these two facts together may lead people to prefer words (and names) that are typed on the right.

Which names are typed by the right hand only? My original list:

  • Holly
  • Io
  • Jill, Jim, Jimi, Jimmy, Jin, Jo, John, Johnny, Jon, Joni, Joy, Juho, Juli, Julio, Jun, Juno
  • Kiki, Kim, Kimi, Kimiko, Kimmy, Kimo, Kip, Kiyoko, Kojo, Kollin, Kumiko, Kyou
  • Lili, Lilly, Lilou, Lily, Lin, Lino, Loni, Lonny, Lou, Lulu, Lyn, Lynn
  • Miki, Mikki, Mikko, Milly, Milo, Mimi, Min, Minh, Miyu, Molly, Momoko
  • Nik, Nikhil, Niki, Nikki, Niko, Nikol, Nikon, Nuno
  • Olli, Olujimi, Om
  • Phil, Philip, Phillip, Pio, Polly, Poppy
  • Yoko, Yuko, Yumi, Yumiko

Can you think of any others?

Source: The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words (h/t Anthony Mitchell, @aem76us)