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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Pam

Number of Babies Named Pam

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Pam

Names in the News: Pam, Lau, Samuel Kini

Three baby name stories out of Melanesia:

  • Pam: Cyclone Pam, which hit the island nation of Vanuatu on March 13, prompted several new mothers there to name their babies Pam and Pamela. One of those babies, born to mother Trisha Ronald in the back of an ambulance, was named Charlotte Pam after both the storm and the Australian volunteer paramedic (Charlotte Gillon) who delivered her.
  • Samuel: A baby born in Vanuatu at the end of March was named Samuel Kini Lovobalavu after “three different Fijian health officials – Health Inspector Samuela Bolalailai, RFMF Medic Sgt. Kini Nacagilevu, and Chief Health Inspector Kanito Lovobalavu.” The Fijian health personnel were in Vanuatu helping with Cyclone Pam relief efforts.
  • Lau: Yuma Nagasaki of Japan, who is a volunteer language teacher in Fiji, welcomed a son in mid-March and named him Lau after the Fijian province. “He made the decision to name his newborn son after experiencing the warmth and hospitality of people from Lau.”

Castor and Ramsi are two older baby name stories from the same region of the world (Vanuatu & Solomon Islands).

The Baby Name Orenthal

orenthalLast week’s post about baby names inspired by the O. J. Simpson trial reminded me that we haven’t yet talked about O. J. Simpson’s first name, Orenthal. So let’s do that today.

Here’s how Simpson explained his name to LIFE magazine in 1968, while he was still a student at the University of Southern California:

“I had an aunt,” he recalls, “who got to my mother and named me Orenthal and my cousin Ercale. Then she turned around and gave her own kids common names like Stanley, Stewart and Pam. The only thing she ever told me about Orenthal was that it was the name of some French or Italian actor. I don’t know, maybe she was loaded or something when she came up with it.”

That same year, Simpson won the Heisman Trophy.

And, right on cue, we see the name Orenthal pop on the national baby name charts:

  • 1976: 25 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1975: 25 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1974: 18 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1973: 10 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1972: unlisted
  • 1971: 10 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1970: 18 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1969: 23 baby boys named Orenthal
  • 1968: 10 baby boys named Orenthal [debut]
  • 1967: unlisted

The next year he was the #1 NFL draft pick. He went on to have a successful professional football career that lasted over a decade, including a particularly impressive 1973, which looks like it gave the name a second boost.

After retiring from football, Simpson worked as a sports broadcaster and as an actor. He had a small part in Roots, for instance.

But his reputation was irreparably tarnished with the events of the mid-1990s. Usage of the name declined in the ’80s and it was off the national list entirely during the ’90s. (It’s been back on the list a couple of times since, though).

What do you think of the name Orenthal?

Source: Bonfante, Jordan. “The Best College Halfback–Just Call Him O.J.” LIFE 27 Oct. 1967: 72-74.

How Do You Like Your Name, Kelsey?

Today’s name interview is with Kelsey, a 25-year-old from Tennessee.

What’s the story behind her name?

My name was going to be Lydia, but another couple at my parents’ church named their baby that shortly before I was born. They didn’t want to confuse nursery workers so they decided to come up with a different name. Some missionaries came to visit the church and had a daughter named Kelsey and my parents decided they liked the name.

What does she like most about her name?

I’m really struggling to come up with an answer for this one.

What does she like least about her name?

What I hate about it now, may make me like it in a few years, but as of now I hate how young it makes me sound. In the workplace, I think it makes it obvious that I am much younger than my coworkers Sheila, Pam, Suzanne, etc. I think this is a disadvantage when it comes to career growth.

This is such an interesting response. I rarely hear people with young-sounding names complain about name-based ageism in the workplace. Typically it’s the people with older-sounding names (Pam and Suzanne and the like).

While we’re on the topic…Kelsey’s name is young-sounding for good reason. Kelsey was rarely bestowed before 1980, but it shot into the top 100 in 1987. Usage peaked in the early 1990s:

  • 1994: 9,751 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 29th)
  • 1993: 11,376 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 24th)
  • 1992: 11,714 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 23rd)
  • 1991: 11,430 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 26th)
  • 1990: 9,494 baby girls named Kelsey (rank: 32nd)

But the popularity didn’t last. Kelsey dropped out of the top 100 in 2002 and the name has been sinking ever since.

Final question: would Kelsey recommend that her name be given to babies today?

No, I don’t think it ages well. I believe this has to with the “ee” sound ending.

Thanks, Kelsey!

[Would you like to tell me about your name?]

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...

View Results

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Road Trip Roundup: Dora, Dixie, Mollie, Pam

Let’s start with prostitutes, shall we?

The gold rush town of Deadwood, South Dakota, takes pride in its lawless past — drinking, gambling, even murder. So I wasn’t too surprised to learn that prostitution played a large part in the narrative.

The first prostitutes arrived in Deadwood in 1876. “Most prostitutes died in obscurity under assumed names, but a few became well known, if not respected.”

Here are some of the names (or pseudonyms) of Deadwood’s early prostitutes:

Only in 1980 (!) was prostitution wiped out in Deadwood once and for all.

In the Adams Museum, I found a pair of bedazzled denim wedge-heeled shoes left behind by one of Deadwood’s former (but more recent) working girls:

Prostitute Shoes

Here are the names of Deadwood’s last three madams:

Which set of names do you like better: the one from the late 19th century, or the one from the late 20th century?

[What’s this road trip all about?]

Sources: Adams Museum,, Madam Mollie Johnson, queen of the blondes

Names Spotted on Road Trip thru Wild West

I recently got back from a 2-week road trip through South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming:

Nancy's 2012 Roadtrip

(We set off on this one just two days after getting back from Toronto. Why? Insanity, I suppose.)

I spotted a bunch of interesting names on this trip, but instead of one massive post, I thought I’d break it all up into a series of smaller posts.

Here are some of the names I’ll be talking about:





I’ll come back and add links as the posts are published. Hope you enjoy!

The Baby Name Shaft – Can You Dig It?

shaft movie poster“They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother…shut your mouth!”

I doubted the existence of the baby name Shaft at first. Same as I doubted Rambo, and MacGyver, and Darth.

“For real? Babies named Shaft? I don’t think so.”

After all that I’ve seen, though, I don’t know why I still bother doubting.

Babies have indeed been named Shaft. Dozens of babies, in fact.

The baby name Shaft debuted on the SSA’s list in 1971, the same year the movie Shaft was released:

  • 1975: 7 baby boys named Shaft
  • 1974: 9 baby boys named Shaft
  • 1973: 16 baby boys named Shaft
  • 1972: 31 baby boys named Shaft
  • 1971: 22 baby boys named Shaft [debut]
  • 1970: unlisted

And did you know Shaft had sequels? Shaft’s Big Score in 1972 and Shaft in Africa in 1973. In all three movies, private detective John Shaft was played by actor Richard Roundtree.

I’ve found other ’70s baby names inspired by blaxploitation films, but none are as shocking as Shaft. They include Coffy, Foxy and Sheba, inspired by the Pam Grier movies Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974) and Sheba, Baby (1975).