A day or so ago, I finally replaced the old popularity graphs (which were created way back in 2012) with brand new popularity graphs. Yay! Here are the main improvements:
The graphs are now responsive, meaning they’ll change size to match your screen dimensions. Phones will definitely need to be turned sideways to get the best view, though, because the graphs are so wide.
The graphs’ data points are now in alignment no matter what. This was not the case with the original graphs, which were getting more and more misaligned every year.
Better aesthetics! Nicer colors, cleaner design, no more ugly watermark, etc.
If you mouse over a graph, the data point values will appear as tooltips. Neat!
If you’re using a computer and you right-click on a graph, you can save it as an image — to share via social media, perhaps. ;)
There are still several fixes I need to make, but overall the new graphs are working well. (If they aren’t functioning properly for you, please let me know.)
More site improvements are on the way, and some brand-new features are being mapped out. If you’d like to help me make these changes/enhancements, please consider supporting Nancy’s Baby Names on Patreon. Thanks!
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
More old-timey name snark! This short article was published in a now-defunct Indiana newspaper in 1880.
The programmes of the school commencements—and our own High School is no exception to the rule—are made silly by “Nannies,” “Libbies,” “Kitties,” “Mamies,” and other pet names. No woman who drops the sensible “y” and spells her name with an “ie” termination will ever get beyond mediocre in any sphere. A pet name is for the household only. How everybody would smile if the male graduates insisted upon the same silly style, and were put down on the programmes as “Johnnies,” “Sammies,” “Jimmies,” etc. The literary nom de plume of a female author indicates to some extent the force of her mind; and we know just as well what to expect from the Lillie Linwoods and Mattie Myrtles as we do from the George Eliots. The former clearly foreshadows gush and twaddle, the latter suggests an idea of strength and common sense. You can scarcely pen a more suggestive satire against the helpfulness and independence of woman than to wrap her up in such terms of daily coddling and childish endearment as the pet names of Jennie, Nannie, Hattie, Minnie, Margie, Nettie, Nellie, Allie, Addie, Lizzie, and a host of others. How it lessens the dignity of any woman to be called by a baby name. For instance, persistently to call the two great chieftains of woman’s advanced status, Lizzie Cady Stanton and Susie B. Anthony, would crush, at one stroke, the revolution they have so much at heart. Under such sweet persiflage it would sink into languid imbecility, and furnish fresh food for laughter.
If I spelled my name “Nancie,” I would definitely use that “mediocre in any sphere” sentence as my Twitter bio.
1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.
And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.
Now, on to the names…
The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.
Top Baby Girl Names
Top Baby Boy Names
The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.
As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.
Mary, 149 baby girls
Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
Back in 1886, writers at the New York newspaper The Sun spotted the name “Mellie Butterfield” in the Omaha Herald and it piqued their curiosity.
In the same column…we found Nellies and Minnies, Gussies and Lizzies, Mollies and Sadies, Tillies and Sallies, Bessies, Maggies, Jennies, Tudies [sic], and the whole run of nursery names, but we were able to infer the real and dignified names of these lovely young women.
They couldn’t figure out Mellie, though. So they asked the Herald editor for the details. He said Mellie’s real name was Mellona after the Roman goddess Mellona. (Mellona is based on the Latin word mel, meaning “honey.”)
It seems that the young lady’s grandfather was a Presbyterian minister [Rev. Josiah Moulton], and that he gave the name to her mother at the suggestion of a classically inclined brother clergyman, and that Mellona was therefore handed down to the daughter.
The anonymous Sun writers were not keen on the name Mellona:
“Mellona? We cannot say that we like the name suggested by the clergyman”
“it is so unusual as to be odd”
“why did he not call her Melissa”
“A very odd name for a girl is objectionable rather than otherwise”
“surely there is nothing peculiarly beautiful in Mellona to call for its selection”
“the Moulton family have a monopoly of its use — and they are likely to keep it”
Their final comment — “Mellona is a much more suitable name for a young lady than Mellie” — was vaguely complimentary, but it doesn’t quite make up for the string of criticisms that preceded it.
Do you agree with them about the name Mellona?
Source: “Mellie.” Sun [New York] 19 Jul. 1886: 2.
(That post about women’s pet names from a few months ago was also based on a Sun essay.)