How popular is the baby name Roberta in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Roberta and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Roberta.
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In yesterday’s post on Cindylou, we talked about how the name Cindy was at peak trendiness in 1957.
But even that trendiness can’t quite explain the magnitude of the 1957 debut of Sindee, which tied with Maverick in terms of usage:
1959: 9 baby girls named Sindee
1958: 9 baby girls named Sindee
1957: 32 baby girls named Sindee [debut]
On-trend Sindee might have debuted that year anyway, but it wouldn’t have hit as high without the national news coverage of Sindee Roberta Neilson, born in January to Suzanne and Robert Neilson of Hartsdale, New York. Her birth was notable because it was Mrs. Neilson’s eighth caesarean section delivery — not technically a record at the time, but still a “very rare” occurrence.
Mrs. Neilson had a ninth C-section in 1959. Six of her nine babies lived past birth, but the only other names I could track down were Sherry and Suzanne (who is holding the camera in that photo).
What are your thoughts on the name Sindee? Do you like that spelling?
Baby Makes History; Child Is Woman’s 8th Delivered by Caesarean Section.” New York Times 11 Jan. 1957: 13.
Memphis-based radio station WHER (1430 AM), which was run almost entirely by women, went on the air in October of 1955. It was billed as America’s “First All-Female Radio Station.”
The station was created and funded by legendary record producer Sam Phillips — the guy who discovered Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, among others.
WHER’s original staff included Sam’s wife Rebecca (Becky) along with seven other women: Barbara Gurley, Donna Rae Johnson, Dorothy “Dot” Fisher, Dotty Abbott, Fay Bussell, Phyllis Stimbert, and Roberta Stout.
Six of these eight ladies were on-air personalities with their own programs, each of which emphasized “some particular subject of interest to housewives” according to a 1957 source.
Which of the original WHER names do you like best?
(Dotty is usually a nickname for Dorothy, so I combined them in the poll.)
Vida Jane Butler, who joined WHER later in the ’50s, was known on-air as “Janie Joplin.” She’d been told that Vida “was considered too old-fashioned and too Southern for WHER,” and the data backs it up: the name Vida was indeed out of fashion and associated with the south at that time. These days, though, Vida is picking up steam — particularly in California. Janie, on the other hand, saw peak usage in the mid-20th century and has been in decline ever since.
Brigance, Linda. “WHER.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 18: Media Ed. Allison Graham, Sharon Monteith. Chapell Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
In early 1916, Photoplay Magazine came up with a list of potential titles for serial films using the formula established by The Perils of Pauline (1914), The Exploits of Elaine (1914), and The Hazards of Helen (1914).
(Just a few months after the above was published, The Mysteries of Myra came out.)
The name Rory came up a few days ago in the quintuplet post, so I thought now would be a good time to take a closer look at Rory–especially at how pop culture has been tugging the traditionally male name over to the girls’ camp for quite some time.
First, the history. Rory is the Anglicized form of a Gaelic name that has been spelled various ways (e.g. Ruaidhri, Ruaidri, Ruari). Probably the most notable bearer was the last High King of Ireland, Ruaidri Ua Conchobair.
Rory was being used as a boy name in the U.S. long before it first popped up on the SSA’s baby name list in 1933. But this started to change in the late 1940s:
So what happened in 1947? The movie Stallion Road, starring actress Alexis Smith as rancher Rory Teller. (Also starring future president Ronald Reagan, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday just a few days ago.) You can check out the original Stallion Road trailer at Turner Classic Movies.
(Interestingly, in the book Stallion Road, on which the movie was based, the lady rancher was named Fleace Teller. The screenplay was written by William Faulkner — he might have been the one to change it.)
Usage for boys stayed strong during the ’50s and ’60s with the help of actor Rory Calhoun (real name: Francis McCown). But, after Stallion Road faded from memory, usage for baby girls decreased so much that Rory fell off the girls’ list entirely for a few years in the 1960s.
And then, in December of 1968, Rory Kennedy came along.
1966: 254 boys
1967: 202 boys
1968: 171 boys, 18 girls
1969: 352 boys, 105 girls
1970: 281 boys, 51 girls
Rory is the daughter of Ethel Kennedy and the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. She was born six months after her father, a presidential candidate, was assassinated. According to news articles announcing the birth, Ethel liked the name Rory because it was similar to Robert’s name without being “too obvious” (as the name Roberta would have been, she felt).
This time, the female version of Rory was able to hang on until the next pop culture boost: TV series Gilmore Girls (2000-2007).
1998: 302 boys, 53 girls
1999: 286 boys, 59 girls
2000: 290 boys, 85 girls
2001: 236 boys, 142 girls
2002: 257 boys, 187 girls
Character Rory Gilmore was played by Alexis Bledel–yup, another actress name Alexis. (In both cases, though, Alexis was just a stage name. Alexis Bledel’s first name is actually Kimberly, and Alexis Smith was born Gladys Smith.)
And that leads us to today. How has Rory been used lately? It’s a close race:
2007: 258 boys, 244 girls
2008: 279 boys, 274 girls
2009: 298 boys, 283 girls
It’ll be interesting to watch what happens in the next few years. Will usage for girls go back into decline? Will it overtake usage for boys? What do you think?
Some parents see names like Angelina, Isabella, and Olivia and think, “I’m not going to bother weeding through these dainty little sissy-names on the off chance I find a good one. Forget it. I’m gonna flip ahead to the boy names.”
What these parents might not realize, though, is that there are plenty of strong, non-frilly girl names out there. Here are three types I’ve come up with:
Girl Names with Boyish Nicknames
A boy name wrapped in a girl name — the best of both worlds. Most of the full names below are based on boy names, so they simply shorten to the same pet forms.
Alex – Alexandra
Andy – Andrea, Miranda
Bernie – Bernadette
Cal – Calista, Calla
Clem – Clementine
Dan – Danielle
Ernie – Ernestine
Frank – Frances
Gerry – Geraldine
Gus – Augusta
Jack – Jacqueline
Jo – Josephine, Johanna
Max – Maxine
Mo – Monique, Maureen
Nick – Nicole, Monica, Veronica
Rick – Erica
Rob – Roberta
Sal – Salome, Sarah
Tony – Antonia
Will – Wilhelmina
Girl Names with Lots of Consonants
Girl names with at least as many consonants as vowels tend to sound much more serious than vowel-laden girl names. Especially if they end with a consonant (or a consonant-sound).
*Technically, these names have more vowels than consonants. But it doesn’t sound like they do, and that’s the important part.
Girl Names with Unusual Letters/Sounds
Unusual things command your attention. They may seem odd, but, because they stand out, they also tend to seem bold.
What other types of girl names would you add to this list?