Here’s a name that, year after year on November 11, I keep forgetting to write about: Armistice. It debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1918:
1921: 6 baby boys named Armistice
1919: 5 baby boys named Armistice
1918: 5 baby girls named Armistice [debut]
The influence, of course, was the Armistice declared on November 11, 1918, that signaled the end of World War I. From that point forward, November 11 became known as Armistice Day. (It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.)
A few of the babies named Armistice even got “Day” as a middle name. And at least one of these “Armistice Day” babies, born in Connecticut in 1927, managed to make it into newspapers:
Bridgeport, it has developed, is to have an Armistice Day the year round. Born on Nov. 11 last, the infant daughter of a local family is believed to be the first child in the country named in honor of the world holiday. Her official name is “Armistice Day Guiseppina [sic] Olympia Bredice.” Her father is an employee of a local sewing machine factory.
The top debut names of 1918 were Foch and Marne, for French general Ferdinand Foch and the Second Battle of the Marne. Of course, Foch and Marne weren’t the only WWI-related baby names to debut in the SSA data during the 1910s. Here are four more:
1918: 6 baby boys named Allenby [debut]
Allenby, which made the SSA’s list only once, comes from British Field Marshal Edmund Allenby (1861-1936). He was given command of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) in mid-1917.
1919: 7 baby boys named Joffre
1918: 35 baby boys named Joffre
1917: 37 baby boys named Joffre
1916: 16 baby boys named Joffre
1915: 14 baby boys named Joffre
1914: 6 baby boys named Joffre [debut]
Joffre, which debuted in 1914 and peaked in 1917, was inspired by French General Joseph Joffre (1852-1931). He was commander-in-chief of the French Army during World War I.
The SSDI tells me that two of those 1917 babies were named Joffre Pershing and Joffre Haig, and that another Joffre Pershing was born in 1918.
1920: 28 baby boys named Pershing
1919: 103 baby boys named Pershing [rank: 595th]
1918: 295 baby boys named Pershing [rank: 334th]
1917: 53 baby boys named Pershing [rank: 882nd]
1915: 10 baby boys named Pershing [debut]
Pershing, which debuted in 1915 and peaked in 1918, was inspired by General John Pershing (1860-1948). He was the only person promoted to the highest rank in the U.S. Army — General of the Armies — during his lifetime (in 1919).
1919: 8 baby boys named Tasker
1918: 7 baby boys named Tasker [debut]
Tasker, which has been on the list a total of three times, comes from General Tasker Bliss (1853-1930). He was the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1918.
…Not surprisingly, the WWI names above fell out of favor after the early 1920s. But a few did reappear on the SSA’s list in the early ’40s (during WWII) — Pershing in 1940, and Joffre and Tasker in 1942.
The Second Battle of the Marne was fought in the summer of 1918, just months before the end of World War I. It takes its name from the Marne, a river in France.
The battle was won thanks to an Allied counterattack led by French general Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies. Foch later launched the Hundred Days Offensive, which led to the defeat of Germany.
The name Foch, which sounds like “foe” with an sh attached, was given to at least 58 U.S. baby boys in 1918. It was the 873rd most popular boy name in the nation that year, according to SSA data. (The SSDI includes people named Foch Pershing, Pershing Foch, and Victory Foch–all born in 1918.)
The name Marne was given to at least 24 baby girls and at least 17 baby boys in the U.S. in 1918. (Marne was the third-highest debut name for boys, in fact. First and second were Foch and Victory.) In France the river name is pronounced “mahrn” with a French R, but I doubt any Americans named for the battle used this pronunciation.
Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.
Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.
Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.
Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!