The number of babies named Knute increased that year as well:
1933: 8 baby boys named Knute
1932: 10 baby boys named Knute
1931: 19 baby boys named Knute
1930: 8 baby boys named Knute
If you know college football, you already know where these names come from: Knute [kah-NOOT] Rockne.
Rockne was born in Norway in 1888, and his family immigrated to America in 1893. He became the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 1918. Today, he’s considered one of the greatest coaches in college football history.
On March 31, 1931, 43-year-old Rockne was killed when the wooden Fokker Trimotor* he was flying in crashed in Kansas. The crash was thought to be caused by the deterioration of the plane’s wooden wings.
Rockne was the first American celebrity to die in a commercial airplane crash, and news of his death stunned a Depression-mired nation. The ensuing mourning was truly a national event.
Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral. The service was broadcast live via network radio.
But here’s the silver lining: The crash resulted in significant improvements in aircraft design, as manufacturers were suddenly put under pressure to build safer, all-metal airplanes.
Also named for Rockne in 1931 was Rockne, Texas. Several months after the crash, the local schoolchildren were asked to vote between the potential community names Rockne (for Knute Rockne) and Kilmer (for poet Joyce Kilmer):
The boys voted for the football coach and the girls voted for the poet resulting in a tie. The next day Edith Goertz changed her vote giving the community its name, “Rockne”.
So where does the surname Rockne come from? Originally spelled “Rokne,” it’s a locational name that refers to the family’s farmland in Voss, Norway.
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!
Today’s name belongs in that latter group. In fact, the explanation for today’s name is so inconspicuous that I haven’t been able to piece it together, even after months of trying.
So I’m giving up. I’m just going to post what I know and hope that some wise soul leaves a comment that helps me unravel the mystery. :)
The name is Laquita. (It’s often written LaQuita in obituaries.) It debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1930, coming out of nowhere to be given to an impressive 68 baby girls that year.
Now, the number 68 might seem trivial. Today’s most popular names are given to tens of thousands of babies each, after all. As far as newbie names go, though, 68 is huge. Especially when you’re talking about the early 20th century. Here’s some context:
Top debut names of 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 15
Top debut names of 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
Top debut names of 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
Top debut names of 1929: Jeannene, 26; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
Top debut names of 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
Top debut names of 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
Top debut names of 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
Top debut names of 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
Top debut names of 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9
Laquita jumped into the top 1,000 right away, ranking 874th. It remained there for the next three years.
Here’s a final fact that could be helpful: None of the 28 1930-Laquitas listed in the SSDI were born during the first four months of the year. The name starts to show up in May, with 3 Laquitas born that month. This may mean that a mid-year event triggered the spike.