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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Shelba


Posts that Mention the Name Shelba

The Top Baby Name Rises, 1881 to Today

top baby name rises by year

Many years ago, I published a list of the top debut baby names. A few years after that, I posted a list of the top one-hit wonder baby names.

So today let’s check out another fun set of “top” names: the top rises. The names below are those that increased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next according to the SSA data.

Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year jumps in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Isa grew 240% and usage of the boy name Noble grew 333%.)

  • 1881: Isa, 240%; Noble, 333%
  • 1882: Clementine, 300%; Clarance, 300%
  • 1883: Malissa, 243%; Alf, 150%
  • 1884: Belva, 1220%; Grover, 532%
  • 1885: Phebe, 220%; Bryant, 200%
  • 1886: Felicia, 180%; Thornton, 240%
  • 1887: Ossie, 240%; Aubrey, 240%
  • 1888: Bennie, 250%; Thurman, 414%
  • 1889: Diana, 233%; Grady, 267%
  • 1890: Easter, 238%; Isaiah, 215%
  • 1891: Lutie, 200%; Colonel, 217%
  • 1892: Lollie, 271%; Pierce, 340%
  • 1893: Annabell, 240%; Lindsay, 320%
  • 1894: Versie, 320%; Alvie, 233%
  • 1895: Glenn, 283%; Alma, 220%
  • 1896: Vernice, 217%; Hobart, 744%
  • 1897: Sigrid, 200%; Roswell, 183%
  • 1898: Manila, 1386%; Dewey, 606%
  • 1899: Tula, 280%; Rogers, 220%
  • 1900: Rosia, 480%; Wilber, 417%
  • 1901: Dellie, 180%; Kermit, 183%
  • 1902: Lolita, 420%; Judge, 260%
  • 1903: Rafaela, 280%; Jordan, 250%
  • 1904: Amber, 314%; Adelbert, 260%
  • 1905: Orma, 300%; Armand, 222%
  • 1906: Ena, 456%; Sheldon, 240%
  • 1907: Lota & Tula, 240%; Quincy, 183%
  • 1908: Bernetta & Nila, 260%; Taft, 288%
  • 1909: Laverna & Nevada, 267%; Toney, 300%
  • 1910: Cleopatra, 240%; Arturo & Sammy, 283%
  • 1911: Maryellen, 280%; Vincenzo & Wyman, 320%
  • 1912: Marina, 420%; Woodrow, 1423%
  • 1913: Carroll, 263%; Rosendo, 320%
  • 1914: Lucyle, 280%; Irvine, 333%
  • 1915: Zudora, 460%; Charlton, 320%
  • 1916: Aldena, 291%; Tatsuo, 850%
  • 1917: Liberty, 617%; Masami, 338%
  • 1918: Kazuko, 320%; Quentin, 567%
  • 1919: Verbie, 300%; Belvin, 360%
  • 1920: Marcene, 386%; Harding, 718%
  • 1921: Elwanda, 1860%; Gareth, 560%
  • 1922: Carley, 320%; Colie, 340%
  • 1923: Eris, 1313%; Coolidge, 820%
  • 1924: Janeth, 517%; Phyllis, 260%
  • 1925: Murlene & Normalee, 260%; Estell & Unknown, 214%
  • 1926: Ileana, 633%; Jarrell & Lenoard, 240%
  • 1927: Charmaine, 825%; Lindbergh, 867%
  • 1928: Jeannine, 1147%; Hoover, 522%
  • 1929: Dorla, 800%; Davey, 889%
  • 1930: Arlayne, 317%; Derl, 1060%
  • 1931: Marlene, 745%; Colbert, 280%
  • 1932: Harlene, 270%; Delano, 1057%
  • 1933: Sharleen, 425%; Delano, 289%
  • 1934: Adriana, 283%; Kelvin, 360%
  • 1935: Norita, 1171%; Darwyn, 458%
  • 1936: Shelba, 2667%; Lonzie, 320%
  • 1937: Deanna, 2009%; Tyrone, 788%

The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does get a lot better in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…

  • 1938: Danielle, 878%; Dion, 355%
  • 1939: Brenda, 308%; Hall, 280%
  • 1940: Scarlett, 743%; Clemmie, 257%
  • 1941: Jerilyn, 1250%; Rulon, 250%
  • 1942: Michal, 1520%; Macarthur, 2740%
  • 1943: Shaaron, 456%; Suzanne, 240%
  • 1944: Dorinda, 568%; Kennedy, 280%
  • 1945: Lauren, 709%; Dorian, 220%
  • 1946: Jacalyn, 740%; Cornel, 533%
  • 1947: Jolinda, 388%; Brock, 364%
  • 1948: Sharman, 275%; Kevan, 260%
  • 1949: Lorry, 360%; Hanson, 240%
  • 1950: Vallorie, 717%; Brion, 400%
  • 1951: Krystal, 588%; Denise, 350%
  • 1952: Pandora, 1100%; Corby & Wilhelm, 240%
  • 1953: Angelique, 1157%; Shane, 392%
  • 1954: Sheree, 756%; Dain, 360%
  • 1955: Sabrina, 711%; Davy, 509%
  • 1956: Venetia, 543%; Cheyenne, 680%
  • 1957: Tammy, 1591%; Tammy, 467%
  • 1958: Keely, 1100%; Bret, 680%
  • 1959: Torri, 411%; Efrem, 963%
  • 1960: Lisha, 1096%; Stephon, 1200%
  • 1961: Marisol, 481%; Parrish, 1460%
  • 1962: Penne, 447%; Chance, 350%
  • 1963: Tamiko, 1440%; Tal, 617%
  • 1964: Deneen, 7191%; Temple, 420%
  • 1965: Fontella, 880%; Branden, 340%
  • 1966: Tabatha, 9900%; Heath, 1070%
  • 1967: Anisa, 1600%; Garrison, 320%
  • 1968: Coretta, 2485%; Dustin, 778%
  • 1969: Lalena, 640%; Jeromy, 514%
  • 1970: Shiloh, 540%; Jermaine, 3320%
  • 1971: Ashli, 1900%; Jermaine, 494%
  • 1972: Catina, 9033%; Demond, 3920%
  • 1973: Cicely, 1827%; Caine, 780%
  • 1974: Nakia, 16100%; Rashad, 1100%
  • 1975: Rasheda, 988%; Jamaal, 688%
  • 1976: Rhiannon, 1713%; Seneca, 1429%
  • 1977: Shawntae, 686%; Lavar, 5480%
  • 1978: Aja, 3407%; Dequan, 988%
  • 1979: Renada, 780%; Yoel, 525%
  • 1980: Genese, 1920%; Rayshaun, 440%
  • 1981: Krystle, 1623%; Cavin, 833%
  • 1982: Jere, 1000%; Colt, 1620%
  • 1983: Ciji, 2950%; Remington, 657%
  • 1984: Santana, 3467%; Ryne, 424%
  • 1985: Kayleigh, 2914%; Jaymes, 769%
  • 1986: Kyrie, 3180%; Orry, 789%
  • 1987: Janay, 1168%; Jareth, 400%
  • 1988: Whitley, 916%; Nico, 860%
  • 1989: Audriana, 3467%; Alexande, 4917%
  • 1990: Alannah, 1583%; Tevin, 4569%
  • 1991: Tanairi, 820%; Devante, 1356%
  • 1992: Darian, 703%; Jalen, 3980%
  • 1993: Coraima, 4320%; Savon, 2457%
  • 1994: Aaliyah, 6495%; Romario, 1940%
  • 1995: Iridian, 1845%; Tristin, 747%
  • 1996: Alanis, 1047%; Json, 880%
  • 1997: Yulisa, 2729%, Ennis, 620%
  • 1998: Jazsmin, 960%; Denilson, 900%
  • 1999: Tionne, 1100%; Sincere, 647%
  • 2000: Litzy, 1189%; Elian, 2413%
  • 2001: Nevaeh, 1111%; Jaheim, 5440%
  • 2002: Lashanti, 2060%; Omarion, 8260%
  • 2003: Azeneth, 1913%; Andon, 2200%
  • 2004: Betzaida, 1233%; Jakwon, 1260%
  • 2005: Mikalah, 1906%; Talan, 2130%
  • 2006: Bethzy; 2636%; Dereon, 1217%
  • 2007: Jaslene, 9920%; Leonidas & Renner, 700%
  • 2008: Dayami, 3464%; Barack, 940%
  • 2009: Baya, 1020%; Dhani, 520%
  • 2010: Collins, 1557%; Bentlee, 733%
  • 2011: Thaily, 1400%; Neymar, 900%
  • 2012: Cataleya, 2182%; Long, 740%
  • 2013: Daleyza, 1055%; Jaiceon, 1057%
  • 2014: Aranza, 1297%; Jameis, 720%
  • 2015: Vail, 700%; Rhydian, 667%
  • 2016: Kehlani, 571%; Kylo, 580%
  • 2017: Westlynn, 600%; Oseias, 1080%
  • 2018: Maleni, 950%; Atreus, 1888%

(Did you catch all the doubles? Tula, Delano, Tammy, Jermaine, and Davey/Davy.)

I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about many of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it! Leave a comment and let us know what popularized Dorla in 1929, or Lauren in 1945, or Dustin in 1968, or Kayleigh in 1985, or Talan in 2005…

The Baby Names Shelva and Shelby

baby names, 1930s, movie, shelby, shelva

The interesting name Shelva debuted in the U.S. baby data for both girls and boys in 1936. In fact it was the highest-hitting debut name for both genders that year, which is very impressive. It also became the new highest-ever girl-name debut (breaking Laquita’s record from 1930) and remained so throughout the ’40s and ’50s.

Here are the numbers:

  • 1939: 100 baby girls named Shelva [rank: 680th]
  • 1938: 163 baby girls named Shelva [rank: 533rd]
  • 1937: 194 baby girls named Shelva [rank: 471st]
  • 1936: 89 baby girls named Shelva [rank: 710th]
    • 9 baby boys named Shelva as well
  • 1935: unlisted
  • 1934: unlisted

So where did the name Shelva come from?

It took me forever to figure this one out, but the answer is that it’s a variant of the name Shelby.

Turns out that a whole bunch Shelby-like names — Shelbie, Shelba, Shelbia, Shelvie, Shelvy, Shelvey, Shelva, Shelvia, Shelda — debuted in the data (as girl names) in 1935/1936, right around the time that that Shelby — previously more of a boy name — became popular for girls:

Year Girls named Shelby Boys named Shelby
1939 1,165 [rank: 170th] 206 boys [rank: 396th]
1938 1,713 [rank: 142nd] 214 [rank: 386th]
1937 1,997 [rank: 119th] 203 [rank: 389th]
1936 1,071 [rank: 178th] 151 [rank: 458th]
1935 67 [rank: 848th] 121 [rank: 527th]
1934 17 133 [rank: 500th]

Why the spike and the sex-change for Shelby circa 1936?

The 1935 movie The Woman in Red starring Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck played professional equestrienne Shelby Barret, who was being wooed by two men before she decided to marry Johnny Wyatt, a polo player from a once-wealthy (but still snobby) family.

Mrs. Wyatt eventually finds herself in a position where she either may remain quiet and permit a friend to be convicted of murder or, by admitting she was the mysterious woman in red who was on his yacht (however innocently) on the fatal night, clear him but risk the wreckage of her marriage.

The movie was based on the 1932 book North Shore by Wallace Irwin. His story was also serialized in the newspapers under the title Dangerous Waters in 1933-1934.

Which name would you be more likely to use for a baby girl today: Shelby or Shelva?

Source: “At the Roxy.” New York Times 23 Mar. 1935.

[Latest update to this post: Feb. 2019]