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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Shelda

Number of Babies Named Shelda

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Shelda

The Baby Names Shelva and Shelby

The Woman in Red movie posterShelva was the highest-hitting debut name for both baby girls and baby boys in 1936.

In fact, Shelva was the highest-hitting of all the highest-hitting newbie girl names up to that point, and it would remain the record-holder until 1959.*

Here are the numbers:

  • 1939: 100 baby girls named Shelva (533rd)
  • 1938: 163 baby girls named Shelva (681st)
  • 1937: 194 baby girls named Shelva (471st)
  • 1936: 89 baby girls named Shelva [debut] (708th) & 9 baby boys named Shelva
  • 1935: unlisted

Where did the name Shelva come from?

It took me forever to figure this one out, but the answer is Shelby.

Turns out that many Shelby-like names (Shelva, Shelbie, Shelba, Shelbia, Shelvy, Shelvie, Shelvia, Shelvey, Shelda, Shelma) debuted on the SSA’s baby name list in the mid-1930s, right around the time Shelby — previously more of a boy name — became popular for girls:

  • 1939: 1,164 baby girls and 206 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1938: 1,713 baby girls and 213 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1937: 1,996 baby girls and 203 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1936: 1,072 baby girls and 150 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1935: 67 baby girls and 121 baby boys named Shelby
  • 1934: 17 baby girls and 133 baby boys named Shelby

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

The popular 1935 film The Woman in Red [vid], which starred Barbara Stanwyck as professional horse rider Shelby Barret. The movie was based on the book North Shore by Wallace Irwin.

*In 1959, Shelva (89) was ousted by Torey (102). Torey’s newfound fame was likely inspired by the character Torey Peck, played by Patty McCormack, on the short-lived summer sitcom Peck’s Bad Girl (1959).