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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Popularity of the Baby Name Roberta

Number of Babies Named Roberta

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Roberta

Names from WHER, the First All-Female Radio Station

Dot Fisher of WHER radio station in the 1950s
Dot Fisher of WHER c. 1957 © Broadcast News
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?

Which WHER name do you like best?

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(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.

Sources:


26 Girl Names from 1916

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).

Not-Yet Serials, Photoplay Magazine, January 1916

(Just a few months after the above was published, The Mysteries of Myra came out.)

Which of those 26 names — Abigail, Bertha, Calpurnia, Delilah, Evangeline, Florence, Garnet, Hazel, Imogene, Jezebel, Kitty, Lizzie, Margaret, Nancy, Orillia, Priscilla, Queenie, Roberta, Sibyl, Theodosia, Ursula, Victoria, Winifred, Xanthippe, Yetta or Zira — do you like best?

And, which of those serials would you be most likely to watch? :)

Rory – Boy Name or Girl Name?

Rory - girl name or boy name?

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:

  • 1945 – 20 boys
  • 1946 – 37 boys
  • 1947 – 73 boys, 41 girls [debut]
  • 1948 – 123 boys, 43 girls
  • 1949 – 149 boys, 45 girls

Those 41 baby girls in 1947 made Rory the top debut name for baby girls that year.

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.

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?

(Also, feel free to weigh in on Avery, Charlie, Elliot and Peyton.)

Source: “New Kennedy Girl May Be Named.” Schenectady Gazette 14 Dec. 1968: 2.

Girl Names for Parents Who Don’t Like Girl Names

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).

Adele*
Agnes
Alice
Ardith
Astrid
Blanche
Bridget
Brooke
Carmen
Claire*
Edith
Eleanor*
Elizabeth
Enid
Esther
Gertrude
Gretchen
Harriet
Helen
Hester
Imogene*
Ingrid
Jane
Janet
Jill
Joan
Judith
Katherine
Laurel
Mabel
Margaret
Marion
Maude*
Megan
Meredith
Nadine
Rachel
Ruth
Sibyl
Tamar

*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.

Beatrix
Beulah
Eugenia
Eunice
Gwyneth
Hazel
Izora
Maeve
Tirzah
Tallulah
Ursula
Violet
Winifred
Winona
Yolanda
Zelda
Zenobia
Zillah

What other types of girl names would you add to this list?

How to Find a Boy Name that Won’t Become a Girl Name

Are there any boy names out there that aren’t at risk of becoming girl names?

This may not be the answer you want to hear, but: nope. There’s simply no way to guarantee that a boy name won’t suddenly become trendy for girls. (A movie mermaid was all it took for the name Madison — a name with the word “son” right in there — to become a girl name.)

No boy names are girl-proof, but some are certainly girl-resistant. Which ones? Here are five types I’ve come up with:

1. Boy names with unstylish elements, such as “bert” and “stan.” If a boy name isn’t fashionable enough to be popular for boys, it shouldn’t be too tempting to use for girls either.

Albert
Archibald
Bernard
Bertrand
Donald
Irwin
Gilbert
Leopold
Maynard
Rudolph
Stanford
Woodrow

2. Boy names with few vowels. They tend to sound more masculine than other names.

Bryant
Chad
Charles
Clark
Desmond
Grant
Kenneth
Mark
Ralph
Scott
Seth
Trent

3. Boy names with length. Most of today’s popular unisex names stop at two syllables.

Abraham
Alexander
Augustine
Balthazar
Benedict
Barnaby
Benjamin
Emmanuel
Ferdinand
Mortimer
Reginald
Sylvester

4. Boy names with hard endings, such as D, K and T. Many of the boy names being used by girls end with softer consonants like L, N and R.

Bennett
Caleb
Conrad
Craig
Derek
Emmett
Garrick
Isaac
Jared
Patrick
Stuart
Wyatt

5. Boy names with well-known feminine forms. If there’s a readily available girl-version, doesn’t it seem silly to use the masculine form for a female?

Brian (Brianna)
Carl (Carla)
Erik (Erika)
Gerald (Geraldine)
George (Georgia)
Henry (Henrietta)
Joseph (Josephine)
Martin (Martina)
Paul (Paula)
Robert (Roberta)
Theodore (Theodora)
Victor (Victoria)

As I mentioned, there’s never a guarantee. (A female Scrubs character is named Elliot — will that be the next to go? How about Blake, thanks to Blake Lively?) But I think boy names that fit into the above categories are relatively safe bets.

Are there any other types of names you’d add to the list?

Baby Name Needed – Name for Hannah’s Little Sister

A reader named Rebecca is expecting her second baby girl in a couple of weeks and needs help with a name:

Older sister Hannah Jeanne, last name is 1 syllable German starting with K. Looking for something timeless, with history and meaning, but not overdone.

I think the names below are all timeless and meaningful…and, as a bonus, none of them currently rank in the top 100.

Adeline
Bethany
Cecilia
Eleanor
Elisa
Judith
Lucia
Marion
Miriam
Paula
Phoebe
Priscilla
Rachel
Roberta
Sabina
Sarah
Simona
Susan
Theresa
Valerie

I think a 1-syllable middle (e.g. Lynn, Ruth, Eve, Belle) would work well with nearly any of the above. Plus, it would keep the style of the name very similar to that of Hannah Jeanne.

What do you guys think–what’s a good name for Hannah Jeanne’s little sis?

Update – The baby has arrived! Scroll down to the final comment to find out what her name is.