Independent baby name blog & directory, est. 2006.
How popular is the baby name Rufus in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Rufus and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Rufus.
The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.
The list was created by amateur genealogist G. M. Atwater as a resource for writers. It contains names and name combinations that were commonly seen in the U.S. from the 1840s to the 1890s. Below is the full list (with a few minor changes).
Victorian Era Female Names
Victorian Era Male Names
Abigale / Abby
Almira / Almyra
Ann / Annie
Dorothy / Dot
Elizabeth / Eliza / Liza / Lizzy / Bess / Bessie / Beth / Betsy
I have started teaching a new course this month and am learning the names on a new class list.
My biggest challenge is, as always, the curse of the creative speller.
If your name is Megan why is it spelled Mheghaan?
Why is Cassidy, Kasidee?
Why is Britanny now Brit-anee?
Judy is Joodee?
I have taught Tifani’s, Tiffany, Tifanee all in the same class.
It makes my head explode.
Listen I have a last name that requires spelling out every time I say it, and over time that is a nuisance. Why send your child out in the world with that handicap over what is an ordinary name? Why have teachers say “you’re kidding” every time your kid says what the creative spelling stands for.
If you want your baby to have a cool name choose a cool name. Don’t try to do it with creative spelling. It’s making my class lists a nightmare.
After using a statistical model to study more than 100 years of first names and doing a natural experiment using the names of hurricanes, the researchers found that the popularity of a particular moniker is impacted by how widely the sounds in that name were used previously. In other words, a first grade class filled with Karens is likely to be followed by a wave of six-year-olds with names that use similar sounds, or phonemes, such as “Katie” or “Karl” — or even “Darren” or “Warren.”
The Census Bureau announced Thursday that most of the newborn babies in the United States belong to minority groups, the first time in history that whites of European ancestry have accounted for less than half of that total.
Minorities—including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race—accounted for 50.4 percent of all U.S. births during the 12-month period that ended last July, edging past non-Hispanic whites who made up 49.6 percent.
He adored Melville, Mozart, and Mickey Mouse (and would have noted the alliteration with pleasure—he wrote in different places about the mysterious significance he attached to the letter M, his own first initial and that of many of his characters, beginning with Max of Where the Wild Things Are).
The brief Spanish-American War (1898), which began in April and ended in August, inspired hundreds of patriotic parents in the U.S. to choose war-inspired baby names. Here are some examples:
Maine & Havana
One of the events that led to war was the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Cuba’s Havana Harbor on February 15. The explosion killed more than 260 men. Many people in the U.S. blamed the explosion on Spain.
The baby names Maine and Havana both debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in 1898.
1898: 9 baby girls named Maine [debut]
Maine was a one-hit wonder on the list — a rarity that never returned — but Havana has been on the list dozens of times since (and regularly since 1995).
1898: 8 baby girls named Havana [debut]
The SSDI tells a more complete story (though it doesn’t offer information on gender). It indicates that 25 babies were named Maine and 12 were named Havana in 1898.
Dewey & Manila
War was formally declared on April 25. On May 1, the Battle of Manila Bay took place in the Philippines. The U.S. fleet, under the command of Commodore George Dewey, defeated Spain.
Usage of the name Dewey spiked in 1898, both for boys and for girls:
1901: 137 baby boys and 7 baby girls named Dewey
1900: 345 baby boys and 9 baby girls named Dewey
1899: 499 baby boys and 24 baby girls named Dewey
1898: 1,115 baby boys and 104 baby girls named Dewey
1897: 158 baby boys and 13 baby girls named Dewey
1896: 63 baby boys named Dewey
1895: 28 baby boys named Dewey
In terms of rankings, Dewey hit 19th (!) for boys and 305th for girls in 1898. Also that year, the spelling variants Dewie and Dewy debuted.
Going back to the SSDI, we see even higher numbers — 6,708 babies named Dewey, 36 named Dewie, and 1 named Dewy in 1898.
We even see evidence of Dewey’s spike on the U.S. Census of 1920:
1910s: over 4,300 people named Dewey were born
1900s: over 11,000 people named Dewey were born
1890s: over 12,100 people named Dewey were born
1880s: over 200 people named Dewey were born
1870s: over 100 people named Dewey were born
An article in the Reading Eagle in 1899 listed ten local babies named for George Dewey, and another article I spotted from decades later joked about starting a George Dewey namesake club.
We see a similar (though less pronounced) spike of in the usage of Manila for baby girls:
A reader named Virginia is expecting a baby in September. For a boy, she’d selected the name Phineas. She liked “that it was unusual without being bizarre,” and that it started with ph. But now she’s not so sure about the name:
All was fine and dandy until I read an article about violence in the Bible. It vaguely mentioned Phineas as a name from the Bible used as a talisman by white supremacists. What!?!
That was a shock to me too. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Phineas Priesthood is “a violent credo of vengeance that has gained some popularity among white supremacists and other extremists in recent years.” I’d never heard of the Phineas Priesthood before–not even when Julia Roberts named her son Phinnaeus a few years ago.
Virginia doesn’t want to give up her favorite name, but she also “can’t live with such an association,” so she was hoping for some name suggestions. Other names she’s considering include Joel and Samuel (for boys) and Sigrid, Phoebe, Elisabeth, and Anne (for girls). All are family names.
First, a few thoughts:
I doubt many people are aware that white supremacists use Phineas as a code word. It’s an odious association, but maybe it’s also obscure enough that it’s not worth worrying about…?
I really like Sigrid and Phoebe–they’re both significant and unusual. Especially Sigrid. (Phoebe is being used more and more every year, so it might not be unusual for long.)
And now, name suggestions. Here are some unusual-but-not-bizarre boy names that I think Virginia might like:
And some girl names:
What other names would you suggest to Virginia? (And, what’s your take on the Phineas dilemma?)
Update: The baby has arrived! Click here to learn the baby’s name.