We looked at the top baby name rises last month, so this month let’s look at the opposite: the top drops. That is, the baby names that decreased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next in the Social Security Administration’s data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year slides in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Clementine dropped 68% and usage of the boy name Neil dropped 76%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does become more accurate in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about a few of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it — leave a comment and let us know why you think any of these names saw dropped in usage when they did.
So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…
The Rieser Company of New York started selling Venida hair nets around 1907. The company’s founder, Norvin Rieser, created the name Venida out of the Latin phrase ‘veni, vidi, vici.’
In the ’20s, the baby name Venida started popping up on the SSA’s baby name list:
1927: 10 baby girls named Venida
1925: 9 baby girls named Venida
1924: 6 baby girls named Venida
1923: 10 baby girls named Venida
1921: 6 baby girls named Venida [debut]
How much of this can be attributed to the hair product? It’s hard to say exactly, as the baby name Venida pre-dates the hair net, but I’d bet at least some of the increased usage of that decade can be linked to Venida advertisements, which included:
Venida contests, like this one mentioned in Popular Mechanics in mid-1921:
In a contest open to women and girls only, prizes will be awarded for the greatest number of words made from any or all of the letters in the phrase “Venida Hair Net.”
First prize was $1,000, second was $500, and third was $200.*
The Rieser Company eventually started selling other hair-related products (e.g., bobby pins, shampoo) but hair nets were always the main draw, judging by the Venida Hair Net ads that regularly appeared in major magazines like LIFE in the mid-20th century.
The hair nets continued to be sold at least until the early 1960s, but I’m not sure what became of the company after that.
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.