How popular is the baby name Monalisa 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 Monalisa.
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I believed for a long time that Dardanella was the first of these introduced-by-song names. It bounded onto the charts in 1920 — before the widespread usage of radio and record players, impressively. This must make it one-of-a-kind, right?
Nope. I’ve since gone back over the early name lists and discovered a musical name that debuted on the charts a whopping 17 years earlier, in 1903. That name is Anona:
1908: 8 baby girls named Anona
1907: 6 baby girls named Anona
1906: 12 baby girls named Anona
1905: 22 baby girls named Anona
1904: 22 baby girls named Anona
1903: 7 baby girls named Anona [debut]
The SSA’s early name lists are relatively unreliable, so here are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) numbers for the same time-span:
1908: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1907: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1906: 38 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1905: 48 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1904: 57 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1903: 18 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
1902: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)
The song “Anona” was published in mid-1903. It was written by Vivian Grey, which was a pseudonym for either presidential niece Mabel McKinley or prolific songwriter Robert A. King, sources don’t agree.
The song became very popular and was recorded multiple times. (Here’s Henry Burr’s version, for instance.) This is the chorus:
My sweet Anona, in Arizona,
There is no other maid I’d serenade;
By camp-fires gleaming, of you I’m dreaming,
Anona, my sweet Indian maid.
So-called “Indian love songs” were becoming trendy around this time, thanks to the success of the song “Hiawatha” (1902). Here are a few more that, like “Anona,” have titles that were also used as female names in the songs:
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!
You can bet many of those babies were given the middle name Lisa. :)
The song refers to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Mona Lisa, a 16th-century portrait of Lisa Gherardini. Mona is a contraction of Madonna, or ma donna, Italian for “my lady,” and Lisa is a short form of Elisabetta, the Italian form of Elizabeth.