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

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Popularity of the Baby Name Theresa

Number of Babies Named Theresa

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Theresa

Should We Name Hurricanes to Maximize Donations?

hurricaneIn 2008, psychologists Jesse Chandler, Tiffany M. Griffin, and Nicholas Sorensen published a study showing that people who shared an initial with a hurricane name were over-represented among hurricane relief donors. So, for instance, people with R-names donated significantly more than other people to Hurricane Rita relief efforts. (This is an offshoot of the name-letter effect.)

A few years later, marketing professor Adam Alter came up with an interesting idea: Why not use this knowledge to try to maximize donations to hurricane relief efforts? He explained:

In the United States, for example, more than 10% of all males have names that begin with the letter J-names like James and John (the two most common male names), Joseph and Jose, Jason, and Jeffrey. Instead of beginning just one hurricane name with the letter J each year (in 2013, that name will be Jerry), the World Meteorological Organization could introduce several J names each year. Similarly, more American female names begin with M than any other letter–most of them Marys, Marias, Margarets, Michelles, and Melissas–so the Organization could introduce several more M names to each list.

I think his idea is a good one overall. It wouldn’t cost much to implement, but could potentially benefit many hurricane victims.

I would go about choosing the names differently, though.

Repeating initials multiple times within a single hurricane season would be unwise, for instance. It would cause confusion, which would undermine the reason we started naming hurricanes in the first place (“for people easily to understand and remember” them, according to the WMO).

But optimizing the name lists using data on real-life usage? That would be smart.

I might even try optimizing based on demographics. Baby boomers are particularly generous donors, so maybe we should choose letters (or even names) with that generation in mind?

The baby boomers were born from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, so here are the top initials for babies born in 1956 (60 years ago):

Top first letters of baby names, 1956, U.S.

Here are two possible lists of hurricane names using the above letters. I stuck with the WMO’s conventions: 21 names total, alternating genders, and no retired names.

Mid-century style Modern style
Janice
Danny
Rebecca
Martin
Cindy
Scott
Lori
Kenneth
Brenda
Patrick
Theresa
Gerald
Angela
Eugene
Wanda
Vincent
Nancy
Howard
Francine
Ira
Olga
Jasmine
Dominic
Rylee
Matthew
Charlotte
Sebastian
Lucy
Kingston
Bella
Preston
Trinity
Grayson
Ava
Eli
Willow
Victor
Nora
Hunter
Fiona
Isaac
Olivia

And here’s another point: we wouldn’t want to assign these names in order. While the official hurricane season lasts a full six months — June to November — most hurricane activity happens in August, September and October:

Number of Tropical Cyclones per 100 Years (NOAA)

To really optimize, we’d want to reserve the top initials/names for the stronger mid-season hurricanes, which tend to do the most damage. So we could start the season using mid-list names, then jump to the top of the list when August comes around and go in order from that point forward (skipping over any mid-list names that had already been used).

What are your thoughts on assigning hurricane names with disaster relief in mind? Do you think it could work? What strategy/formula would you use to select relief-optimized hurricane names?

Sources: In the “I” of the storm: Shared initials increase disaster donations, Smart Hurricane Names: A Policy Intervention that Costs Almost Nothing but Should Attract Billions of Dollars in Aid, Tropical Cyclone Programme – WMO
Image: Tropical Cyclone Climatology – National Hurricane Center – NOAA

P.S. While J, D and R were the top initials 60 years ago, today’s top initials are A, J and M.


Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1866

providenceLast month we looked at the top Providence names of 1867, so today let’s check out the rankings from the year before — 1866.

First, some stats:

  • 1,633 babies were babies were born in Providence in 1866, by my count. (The number given by the author of the document is 1,632.)
  • 1,457 of these babies (707 girls and 750 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 176 babies got blank spaces.
  • 234 unique names (123 girl names and 108 boy names) were shared among these 1,457 babies.

And here’s some extra information I forgot to mention in the last post: In 1860, the city of Providence was home to 29.0% of Rhode Island’s population. In 1870, it was home to 31.7% of the population. So each of these 3 sets of rankings (1866, 1867, 1868) ought to account for roughly 30% of the residents of the state.

Now, on to the names…

Top 5

The top 5 girl names and boy names of 1866 were, unsurprisingly, very similar to the top names of 1867.

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. George
5. Thomas

The girls’ top 5 is identical, while the boys’ top 5 includes Thomas instead of George.

Girl Names

As expected, Mary was the front-runner by a huge margin. And, while there were dozens of Catherines, and a single Catharine, there weren’t any Katherines.

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 43
  3. Ellen, 40
  4. Margaret, 37
  5. Sarah, 36
  6. Elizabeth, 32
  7. Alice, 18
  8. Annie, 15
  9. Anna & Eliza, 14 each (2-way tie)
  10. Clara, 13
  11. Ann, 11
  12. Carrie, Emma, Jane & Susan, 10 each (4-way tie)
  13. Grace & Ida, 9 each (2-way tie)
  14. Esther, Martha & Minnie, 7 each (3-way tie)
  15. Anne & Julia, 6 each (2-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Charlotte, Cora, Harriet, Jennie, Joanna, Maria & Rosanna, 5 each (8-way tie)
  17. Amelia, Bridget, Ella, Frances, Hattie, Lydia, Nellie & Theresa, 4 each (8-way tie)
  18. Abby, Emily, Florence, Josephine, Laura, Lillian, Lizzie, Louise & Marion, 3 each (9-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amy, Augusta, Deborah, Edith, Etta, Eva, Fannie, Georgianna, Hannah, Henrietta, Honora, Isabel, Isabella, Lottie, Lucy, Mabel, Marietta, Maud & Teresa, 2 each (20-way tie)
  20. Almira, Annette, Bertha, Catharine, Cedelia, Celia, Christina, Delia, Diana, Dora, Dorcas, Eldora, Eleanor, Elsie, Emeline, Etherine, Eugenie, Evangeline, Fanny, Flora, Geneva, Georgia, Gracie, Helen, Helena, Imogene, Janette, Jessie, Kate, Lena, Louisa, Lucia, Lucinda, Madelina, Marian, Marsalin, May, Millie, Mina, Mini, Minna, Neatah, Nettie, Phebe, Rebecca, Rosa, Roselia, Rosetta, Ruth, Sophia, Stella, Susanna, Susannah, Tillie & Winnifred, 1 each (55-way tie)

Boy Names

John had an even more commanding lead in 1866 than in 1867.

  1. John, 109 baby boys
  2. William, 78
  3. James, 62
  4. George, 44
  5. Thomas, 41
  6. Charles, 36
  7. Edward, 28
  8. Joseph, 27
  9. Frederick, 20
  10. Henry, 18
  11. Frank, 17
  12. Michael, 15
  13. Francis, 14
  14. Daniel, 13
  15. Albert, Patrick & Robert, 12 each (3-way tie)
  16. Walter, 11
  17. Arthur, Peter & Samuel, 8 each (3-way tie)
  18. Alfred, Harry, Louis & Stephen, 7 each (4-way tie)
  19. Martin, 6
  20. Matthew, 5
  21. Christopher, Clarence, Herbert, Howard & Hugh, 4 each (5-way tie)
  22. Benjamin, Eugene, Ira & Jeremiah, 3 each (4-way tie)
  23. Aaron, Alvin, Arnold, Earl, Edgar, Elisha, Freddie, Harrison, Lewis, Marcus, Nicholas, Philip, Richard & Timothy, 2 each (14-way tie)
  24. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Alanson, Alden, Ambrose, Antonio, August, Augustavus*, Augustus, Bartholomew, Bernard, Bradford, Byron, Chauncey, Clinton, David, Duncan, Eben, Ebenezer, Edwin, Elias, Elliott, Ethan, Everett, Ezra, Ferdinand, Frederic, Fullerton, Gilbert, Gwynn, Harold, Herman, Isaac, Jesse, Josiah, Lauriston, Luther, Manuel, Marks, Maurice, Miles, Mortimer, Oliver, Olney, Oscar, Otto, Rana, Rectol, Salisbury, Shamball, Simon, Terence, Theodore, Victor, Willard, Willie & Wilton, 1 each (58-way tie)

(I didn’t combine any variant spellings, but I did lump the abbreviated names Chas., Benj., and Fred’k in with Charles, Benjamin and Frederick.)

*Does Augustavus = Augustus + Gustav, I wonder?

Twins

I counted 19 pairs of twins born in Providence in 1866. I didn’t notice any triplets this year. (All of these names have already been accounted for above.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g)
Edgar & Oscar
Edward & James
Francis & James
James & John
John & Thomas
(blank) & (blank)
Frederick & Alice
John & Alice
Samuel & Sarah
Stephen & Annie
(blank) & Catherine
Agnes & Anna
Eldora & Ellen
Eliza & Mary
Elizabeth & Julia
Frances & Mary
Josephine & Mary
Mary & Sarah
Theresa & (blank)

I’ll try to finish/post the final set of rankings before the end of the year.

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence During the Year 1866. Providence: Hammond, Angell & Co., 1867.

Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 1867

providence baby names 1867The registrar of Providence, Rhode Island, published a series of documents listing all “of the names of persons deceased, born and married in the city of Providence” during years 1866, 1867 and 1868. The series may have been longer, but these are the only documents I could find online.

I’ve finally finished creating a set of rankings using one of the documents — 1867. But before we get to the rankings, here are some stats:

  • 1,547 babies were born in Providence in 1867, going by the number of babies listed in the document itself. According to the document’s introduction, though, the number is 1,625. Not sure what to make of this discrepancy.
  • 1,431 of these babies (713 girls and 718 boys) had names that were registered with the government at the time of publication. The other 116 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps they died young and never received a name.
  • 254 unique names (141 girl names and 113 boy names) were shared among these 1,431 babies.

And now, on to the names…

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1867:

Top Baby Girl Names Top Baby Boy Names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Ellen
4. Margaret
5. Sarah
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

Girl Names

Notice how the #1 name, Mary, was bestowed three times as often as the #2 name, Catherine.

  1. Mary, 138 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 46
  3. Ellen, 37
  4. Margaret, 34
  5. Sarah, 31
  6. Annie, 19
  7. Elizabeth, 16
  8. Alice, 15
  9. Florence, 14
  10. Ann, Emma & Ida, 12 each (3-way tie)
  11. Minnie, 11
  12. Harriet & Julia, 9 each (2-way tie)
  13. Anna, Caroline, Carrie, Jennie, Joanna & Louisa, 8 each (6-way tie)
  14. Cora & Eliza, 7 each (2-way tie)
  15. Agnes, Clara, Edith, Rosanna & Theresa, 6 each (5-way tie)
  16. Bertha, Grace, Hannah, Hattie, Jane, Lillian, Maria, Martha, Nellie & Susan, 5 each (10-way tie)
  17. Eleanor, Fannie, Gertrude, Helen, Isabella, Lucy & Rosa, 4 each (7-way tie)
  18. Anne, Bridget, Ella, Emily, Esther, Eva, Lizzie, Mabel, Matilda & Ruth, 3 each (10-way tie)
  19. Ada, Amelia, Charlotte, Dora, Eleanora, Elvira, Henrietta, Jessie, Josephine, Kate, Louise, Lydia, Maggie & Rosella, 2 each (14-way tie)
  20. Abby, Addie, Adelaide, Adelia, Almina, Almira, Amanda, Amey, Amy, Anastasia, Angelie, Annis, Antoinette, Augusta, Aurelia, Bethiah, Cecelia, Celia, Clarissa, Clementina, Corielynn, Cornelia, Drusilla, Effie, Emeline, Estella, Ethelin, Fanny, Florentina, Frances, Gelie, Genevieve, Georgiana, Georgianna, Helena, Honora, Irene, Isabel, Issie, Juliann, Julietta, Katie, Laura, Leah, Leonora, Lillie, Lillis, Lily, Lottie, Luella, Margaretta, Margery, Margret, Marietta, Maude, May, Millie, Myra, Nelly, Phebe, Robie, Rosalthe, Rose, Selina, Sophia, Susanna, Susannah, Vienna, Viola, Vira, Virginia & Winifred, 1 each (72-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. John, 87 baby boys
  2. William, 75
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 50
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 40
  7. Joseph, 30
  8. Walter, 21
  9. Edward, 16
  10. Francis & Michael, 14 each (2-way tie)
  11. Patrick, 13
  12. Arthur & Robert, 12 each (2-way tie)
  13. Frank, Frederick & Henry, 11 each (3-way tie)
  14. Albert, 9
  15. Daniel & Peter, 8 each (2-way tie)
  16. David, Eugene, Howard & Samuel, 6 each (4-way tie)
  17. Alexander, Louis & Stephen, 5 each (3-way tie)
  18. Harry, Herbert, Hugh & Martin, 4 each (4-way tie)
  19. Carl, Edgar, Everett, Jeremiah & Willie, 3 each (5-way tie)
  20. Abraham, Alfred, Clarence, Cornelius, Dennis, Ernest, Ezra, Franklin, Freddie, Jacob, Jesse, Lewis, Luke, Nicholas, Philip, Sylvester, Theodore, Timothy, 2 each (18-way tie)
  21. Abner, Adam, Adolph, Amos, Andrew, Appleton, Archibald, Ashel, August, Benjamin, Benno, Bernard, Bertram, Burt, Byron, Clifford, Davis, Dexter, Dunlap, Edmund, Edwin, Elmer*, Embert, Forrest, Freddy, Gustav, Herman, Isaac, Jeffrey, Jerome, Josiah, Lucian, Malcolm, Matthew, Maurice, Milton, Nathan, Nehemiah, Nelson, Oren, Oscar, Otto, Owen, Paul, Ralph, Reginald, Richard, Sanford, Seth, Shirley, Sullivan, Terence, Theobald, Victor, Wanton, Warren, Weston, Wheelan, Wilford, 1 each (59-way tie)

*Elmer, who had the middle initial “E.,” was likely named after Civil War casualty Elmer E. Ellsworth.

Twins & Triplets

Twenty-one sets of twins and two sets of triplets were born in Providence in 1867. (All of these names were accounted for above — I just thought it’d be fun to check out the sibsets.)

Twins (b/b) Twins (b/g) Twins (g/g) Triplets
Abraham & George
Charles & George
Charles & John
Daniel & David
Dunlap & Frank
Eugene & Timothy
George & John
George & William
James & John
John & Martin
Albert & Harriet
Ashel & Ida
George & Grace
James & Mary
Maurice & Ann
Annie & Fannie
Annie & Mary
Ann & Ellen
Jennie & Minnie
Margaret & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Carl, (blank) & (blank)
James, Alexander & Sarah

I’ll post Providence’s 1866 and 1868 rankings as soon I get them done. Until then, here are two older posts featuring uniquely named Rhode Islanders: Aldaberontophoscophornia (b. 1812) and Idawalley (b. 1842).

Sources:

Baby Name Battle – 7 Hungarian Girl Names

Katinka, Sari, Ella, Mici, Terka, Liza and Klara were the names of the seven sisters in the lost silent film The Seven Sisters (1915), which was based on a Hungarian play.

The Seven Sisters (1915)
Scene from The Seven Sisters (1915).

A 1916 advertisement for the movie, which was a vehicle for silent film actress Marguerite Clark, offered the following summary:

The story is as simple and as sweet and dainty as Little Marguerite herself. She is the fourth of a family of seven sisters. Under an old Hungarian marriage law she must not marry until the elder sisters have gone off. How she and her lover clear the way with the aid of that young man’s marriageable friends affords scope for some delightful comedy amid the quaintest and most beautiful old-world surroundings ever portrayed.

The names Katinka, Sari, Ella, Mici, Terka, Liza and Klara are Hungarian versions (or diminutives of Hungarian versions) of the names Katherine, Sarah, Eleanor (or some other El- or -ella name), Mitzi, Theresa, Elizabeth and Clara.

And now for today’s question…

Which Hungarian girl name do you like best?

View Results

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Sources:

  • Bacon, George Vaux. “Seven Sisters.” Photoplay Magazine Sept. 1915: 112-120.
  • Advertisements.” New Zealand Herald 21 Aug. 1916: 12.

List of Female Names from 1888

female names, 1888

A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.

I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”

Here’s the list:

Abigail
Ada
Adelaide
Adelle
Adeline
Addie
Aggie
Agnes
Alberta
Alecia
Aletha
Alfretta
Alice
Allie
Alma
Almeda
Almira
Alta
Althea
Alvira
Alzina
Amanda
Amelia
Amy
Ann
Anna
Annabell
Annas
Annette
Angelia
Angeline
Annie
Athaliah
Athelia
Augusta
Aura
Avis
Barbara
Beatrice
Bell
Bella
Berdie
Bertha
Bertie
Bessie
Beulah
Blanche
Bridget
Calista
Carrie
Carlotta
Cassie
Catherine
Cecilia
Cela
Celia
Celicia
Celis
Charlotte
Chloe
Christie
Christine
Clara
Clarissa
Cleanthe
Clementina
Constance
Cora
Cordelia
Corinne
Cornelia
Cynthia
Cyrena
Debbie
Delia
Della
Diana
Diantha
Dinah
Dollie
Dora
Dorcas
Dorinda
Dorothy
Edith
Edna
Effie
Ella
Eleanor
Eleanora
Electa
Ellen
Elfie
Eliza
Elma
Elsie
Emma
Emmeline
Emily
Ena
Erma
Estelle
Esther
Ethel
Ethelind
Ettie
Eugenie
Eula
Eunice
Euphemia
Euretta
Eva
Evalina
Eveline
Evelyn
Fannie
Felicia
Flora
Florence
Floss
Frances
Frank
Gay
Georgie
Georgina
Geraldine
Gertie
Gracie
Hagar
Hannah
Harriet
Hattie
Helen
Helena
Henrietta
Hulda
Ida
Irene
Isabel
Isabella
Isadora
Jane
Janet
Janie
Jeannette
Jemima
Jennet
Jennie
Jessie
Jerusha
Joanna
Josephine
Josie
Julia
Kate
Kathleen
Katie
Keziah
Lany
Laura
Leah
Leila
Lena
Lera
Lettie
Levina
Levinia
Libbie
Lida
Lilian
Lillie
Lizzie
Lola
Lora
Lorretta
Lottie
Lou
Louisa
Louise
Lucinda
Lucretia
Lucy
Luella
Lula
Lulu
Lydia
Mabel
Madelaine
Maggie
Malvina
Mamie
Marcella
Margaret
Maria
Marilla
Marion
Mary
Marsena
Martha
Mattie
Maud
Maudie
May
Melinda
Mellissa
Mercy
Mertie
Mildred
Millie
Mina
Minerva
Minnie
Mintha
Miranda
Mollie
Muriel
Myra
Myrtle
Nancy
Naomi
Nellie
Nettie
Nina
Nora
Ollie
Olive
Olivia
Ormanda
Ophelia
Pauline
Pearl
Phoebe
Phyllis
Priscilla
Prudence
Rachel
Rebecca
Rhoda
Robena
Rosa
Rosabel
Rosalie
Rosalind
Rosamond
Rose
Ruby
Ruth
Sabina
Sadie
Sally
Samantha
Sarah
Selina
Sophia
Sophronia
Stella
Susanna
Susie
Sybil
Teresa
Theodocia
Theresa
Tillie
Una
Verna
Victoria
Vida
Viola
Violet
Wilhelmina
Winifred
Zuba

Have any favorites?

Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.

BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.

Source: A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names by George J. Howson

The Baby Name Torchy

In 1939, the baby name Torchy made its one and only appearance on the SSA’s baby name list:

  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: 8 baby girls named Torchy [debut]
  • 1938: unlisted

Two years later, variant spelling Torchie did the same thing.

Where did these two one-hit wonders come from?

Torchy Blane

The inspiration was fast-talking fictional newspaper reporter Torchy Blane, the heroine of nine low-budget movies released in the late ’30s with titles like Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) and Torchy Runs for Mayor (1939).

All of the films “followed the same formula — the nimble-minded, intuitive Torchy (who never bothered to take notes when she interviewed a person) would end up solving a crime way before her lunkhead boyfriend, police Det. Steve McBride.”

Ironically, Torchy Blane’s real first name wasn’t Torchy. According to two of the films, her first name was actually Theresa.

Most of the time the Torchy was played by actress Glenda Farrell, though twice she was played by other actresses (Lola Lane and Jane Wyman, respectively).

And that reminds me — did you know that Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was inspired by Torchy Blane to create the character Lois Lane? He’s how he puts it:

Our heroine was of course a working girl whose priority was grabbing big scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane. Because of the name Lola Lane, who also played Torchy, appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane.

Sources:

Baby Names Needed for the Twin Sisters of Thomas

A reader named Eva is expecting twin girls and would like some help naming them. She says:

One of the twins should have a unisex first name and a very girly middle name. For the second twin we want a girly first name and unisex middle name.

Here are the names Eva likes so far:

  • Unisex: Avery, Harper, Morgan, Kennedy, Madison
  • Feminine: Anastasia, Michaela, Caroline, Sofia, Kristina

Her husband is only on board with Avery, Caroline, Kristina and Michaela (he prefers the spelling Makayla).

The twins will have an older brother named Thomas Aiden (nn Tommy) and their surname will be similar to Damon.

Eva’s criteria reminded me of the twins named Charlotte and Dylan I wrote about a few years ago. I think the name Charlotte is a good option in this case, but Dylan plus that surname might be D/N-overload. Here are some other possibilities:

Feminine names Unisex names
Adeline
Amelia
Anne/Annie
Bethany
Camille
Cassandra
Cecilia
Cynthia
Esmé
Fiona
Gemma
Genevieve
Hannah
Helena
Julia
Lydia
Lucy
Maria
Melanie
Melissa
Monica
Nicole
Olivia
Phoebe
Rose
Samantha
Sarah
Tabitha
Theresa
Victoria
Addison
Ainsley
Alexis
Bailey
Cameron
Casey
Cassidy
Emery
Finley
Harley
Jamie
Jordan
Kendall
Leigh
Paige
Parker
Piper
Quinn
Reagan
Reese
Riley
Rowan
Sage
Shea
Sidney
Skylar
Tatum
Taylor
Teagan
Willow

Which of the above names do you like best for Tommy’s sisters? What combinations (either unisex+feminine or feminine+unisex) sound best together, do you think?

Here are a few combinations I like, just to kick things off:

  • Unisex+Feminine: Avery Helena, Cameron Nicole, Riley Caroline
  • Feminine+Unisex: Amelia Quinn, Olivia Willow, Victoria Leigh