How popular is the baby name Walter 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 Walter.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Walter


Posts that Mention the Name Walter

Where did the baby name Troas come from in 1969?

Beauty queen Troas Hayes in 1968
Troas Hayes (in 1968)

The intriguing name Troas was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data, appearing in 1969 only:

  • 1971: unlisted
  • 1970: unlisted
  • 1969: 5 baby girls named Troas [debut]
  • 1968: unlisted
  • 1967: unlisted

The source?

Troas Hayes, a young woman from California. She won the Miss California contest in June of 1968 and went on to represent the state at the Miss USA contest in Miami Beach in May of 1969. She didn’t win, but did come in 4th runner-up.

Where did her unique name come from?

Contemporary sources stated that her father’s name was Walter Hayes, but research reveals that he was actually her step-father. Her biological father was named Virgil Troas Hoffmeister. (He died when Troas was a baby.) I don’t know the story behind Virgil’s name, but both of his given names have classical roots — Virgil being an ancient Roman poet, and Troas being an ancient region in what is now Turkey.

What are your thoughts on Troas as a girl name?

P.S. The 1969 Miss USA contestant from Alabama also had an interesting name: Hitsy Parnell. “Hitsy” was a nickname; her real first name was Wilhelmina.

Sources:

Image: © 1968 Sacramento Bee (from the Center for Sacramento History)

What turned Greer into a girl name in the early 1940s?

Actress Greer Garson (1904-1996)
Greer Garson

From the 1910s to the 1930s, the rare name Greer occasionally popped in the in the U.S. baby name data as a boy name. In the early 1940s, though, it suddenly started being given to baby girls:

  • 1943: 37 baby girls and 10 baby boys named Greer
  • 1942: 15 baby girls and 6 baby boys named Greer
  • 1941: 5 baby girls named Greer
  • 1940: unlisted
  • 1939: unlisted

In fact, from 1941 onward, the name Greer has been given more often to baby girls than to baby boys:

Graph of the usage of the baby name Greer
Graph of the usage of the name Greer

What caused the switch?

Red-haired British actress Greer Garson, who was most popular in America during the early-to-mid 1940s. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress seven times, though she won only once (for her role in the 1942 movie Mrs. Miniver).

Her birth name was Eileen Evelyn Greer Garson; Greer was her mother’s maiden name. She began going by “Greer Garson” in the early 1930s, while she was still a stage actress in England.

Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM studios, discovered Garson in 1937 while he was abroad hunting for talent. After that particular trip, he sailed back to the U.S. with Garson and several other finds:

Also on board were two Austrian actresses named Hedy Kiesler and Rose Stradner, screenwriter Walter Reisch, and two singers, Hungarian Ilona Hajmassy, and Polish Miliza Korjus. While Mayer renamed Hedy Kiesler “Hedy Lamarr” and changed Ilona Hajmassy to “Ilona Massey,” he was stumped when it came to Greer and Miliza Korjus. Ultimately, he settled with Howard Strickling [head of MGM’s publicity department] to start a publicity campaign for Korjus (“her name rhymes with gorgeous!”), and left Greer’s name alone. But for years he would continue to complain that her name was not feminine enough.

The surname Greer is related to the personal name Gregory, which means “watchful, alert.”

What are your thoughts on the name Greer? Do you like it better as a girl name or as a boy name?

Sources:

P.S. The top image of (a very bejeweled) Greer Garson comes from her appearance on the TV game show “What’s My Line?” in April of 1958.

P.P.S. At the height of her fame, Greer Garson owned two standard poodles with the rhyming names Gogo and Clicquot (pronounced klee-koh).

Popular baby names in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1868

19th-century Providence, Rhode Island
19th-century Providence

Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.

Let’s start with some stats:

  • 1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
  • 1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
  • 284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.

And now, on to the names!

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:

Top baby girl namesTop baby boy names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Sarah
4. Ellen
5. Margaret
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

All Girl Names

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 39
  3. Sarah, 38
  4. Ellen, 31
  5. Margaret, 28
  6. Elizabeth, 25
  7. Alice, 24
  8. Anna, 20
  9. Ann, 16
  10. Emma, 14
  11. Eliza, 13
  12. Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
  13. Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
  14. Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
  15. Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
  17. Anne, Carrie, Hattie, Ida, Mabel & Nellie, 6 each (6-way tie)
  18. Eva, Joanna, Lydia & Rosanna, 5 each (4-way tie)
  19. Abby, Charlotte, Emily, Jessie, Josephine, Lillian, Lizzie, Louisa, Louise, Marion, Phebe, Rosella & Theresa, 4 each (13-way tie)
  20. Anastasia, Bertha, Edith, Gertrude, Isabella, Nettie, Pearl, Rebecca & Susanna, 3 each (9-way tie)
  21. Ada, Almira, Edna, Fannie, Flora, Frances, Helen, Henrietta, Inez, Laura, Lelia, Lillie, Lottie, Maud, Priscilla & Virginia, 2 each (16-way tie)
  22. Addie, Adelaide, Adelicia, Adeline, Agatha, Allene, Amanda, Amy, Angelica, Antoinette, Arabella, Augusta, Aurelia, B.*, Belle, Bessie, Betsey, Catharine, Celia, Claudia, Della, Eleanor, Eleanora, Estella, Estelle, Esther, Eudavelia, Eulalie, Evelyn, Francenia, Genevieve, Georgia, Honora, Imogene, Jesse, Juliette, Kate, Leonora, Lilla, Lillias, Lorena, Luella, Luetta, Magdalena, Marian, Marietta, Matilda, Mercy, Minerva, Miriam, Myra, Myrtis, Nanoan, Nora, Pauline, Reberta, Rhoda, Roberta, Rosa, Rose, Ruth, Sabrina, Sophia, Stella & Winifred, 1 each (65-way tie)

*What do you think the “B.” might have stood for?

All Boy Names

  1. John, 112 baby boys
  2. William, 68
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 52
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 37
  7. Frederick, 25
  8. Henry, 23
  9. Joseph, 22
  10. Edward, 19
  11. Daniel & Patrick, 18 each (tie)
  12. Robert, 17
  13. Frank, 16
  14. Francis, 15
  15. Walter, 13
  16. Michael, 11
  17. Albert, 10
  18. Arthur, 9
  19. Benjamin, Peter & Samuel, 7 each (3-way tie)
  20. Freddie, Harry, Herbert & Stephen, 6 each (4-way tie)
  21. Edwin, Lawrence, Lewis, Martin & Timothy, 5 each (5-way tie)
  22. Bernard, Edmund, Eugene, Louis, Philip & Richard, 4 each (6-way tie)
  23. Alfred, Augustus, Christopher, Eben, Horace, Howard, Hugh, Jeremiah, Matthew & Willard, 3 each (10-way tie)
  24. Abel, Barney, Byron, Dennis, Edgar, Ferdinand, Gilbert, Luke, Max, Nathaniel, Owen, Roger, Solomon & Victor, 2 each (14-way tie)
  25. Alden, Alexis, Allen, Alrick, Amos, Andrew, Ansel, Anson, Archibald, Asa, Ashby, Bartholomew, Calvin, Carlos, Clarence, Clark, Clarke, Clement, Clifford, Collyer, Crolander, Darius, David, Earl, Elisha, Ellis, Eri, Ernest, Erwin, Eusebe, Everett, Felix, Forrest, Foster, Franklin, Fred, Gardner, Jacob, Jason, Jerome, Jireh, Joaneto, Josiah, Jubal, Justin, Lawson, Lodovic, Louis, Lucien, Lyman, Major, Malachi, Manuel, Melbourne, Monroe, Morey, Morris, Myron, Nelson, Nicholas, Olney, Orville, Oscar, Pendleton, Ralph, Reuben, Rolfe, Rowland, Rufus, Simeon, Simon, Steven, Stewart, Theodore, Ulysses*, Volney, Warren, Whiting, Willie & Winchester, 1 each (80-way tie)

*Ulysses was likely named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, who was elected president in 1868.

Twins

Finally, nineteen sets of twins were born in Providence in 1868. (All of these twin names are accounted for in the rankings above.)

Girl-girl twinsGirl-boy twinsBoy-boy twins
Caroline & Harriet
Lucy & Lydia
Mary & Rosanna
Margaret & Mary
Lizzie & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Anne & Thomas
Emma & Charles
Florence & William
Hannah & Josiah
Ida & John
Isabella & John
Jennie & Horace
Charles & William
Francis & Robert
George & John
James & John
James & Stephen
(blank) & (blank)

Have any thoughts about these rankings, or about any of the specific names above?

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of the Names of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence. Number three. Providence: Millard & Harker, 1870.

Popular baby names in Prince Edward Island (Canada), 2021

prince edward island

According to Prince Edward Island’s Vital Statistics Office, the most popular baby names on the island in 2021 were Alice and Oliver.

Here are PEI’s top girl names and top boy names of 2021:

Girl Names

  1. Alice, 9 baby girls
  2. Scarlett, 8
  3. Grace, Isla & Ivy, 6 each (3-way tie)
  4. Amelia, Anna, Annie, Ava, Charlotte, Ella, Ellie, Everly, Isabella, Lexi, Lucy, Maeve, Olivia, Sophia, Sophie & Willow, 5 each (16-way tie)
  5. Adeline, Eliza, Eloise, Evelyn, Georgia, Katherine, Kinsley, Nova* & Sadie, 4 each (9-way tie)
  6. Abigail, Adalyn, Addison, Brynlee, Claire, Clara, Emery, Iris, Lydia, Lyla, Nina, Sarah & Skylar, 3 each (13-way tie)

Boy Names

  1. Oliver, 13 baby boys
  2. Jack & Theo, 11 each (tie)
  3. Liam, 9
  4. Austin, Ezra, Jackson, Leo & Noah, 8 each (5-way tie)
  5. Benjamin, Emmett, Ethan, Lucas* & Theodore, 7 each (5-way tie)
  6. Charlie, Henry, Luca & William, 6 each (4-way tie)
  7. Gavin, Hudson, James, Owen & Rowan, 5 each (5-way tie)
  8. Arlo, Beau, Bennett, Elijah, Elliot, Everett, Finn, Levi, Lincoln, Max, Remy, Ryker, Sawyer, Simon, Walter & Weston, 4 each (16-way tie)

These rankings are based on data covering the year up to December 13th. By that date, 619 baby girls and 704 baby boys had been born on the island.

Unexpectedly, PEI released a complete — albeit provisional — list of baby names this time around. So this year we get to check out some of the rare names bestowed just once on the island last year:

Unique Girl NamesUnique Boy Names
Anamika, Athaliah, Brayleigh, Cloud Jrai, Drienne, Élodie, Fearyn, Gray, Haddow, Ishani, Jorie, Kasia, Lorriel, Meekhal, Morayo, Neeltje, Olive-Belle, Paloma, Rilla, Ruthy, Seren, Sudisha, Tomi, Valeah, ZeraAbdul-Rahman, Bane, Berrick, Chivir, Draven, Elon, Felix, Grayden, Hanzebriel, Ibaad, Jordy, Kelton, Leonidas, Maniriho, Marchbank, Najid, Oaks, Porter, Ranaridh, Revel, Sulla, Tully, Wyndham, Yanick, Zeyang

The boy name Bane may have been inspired by the DC Comics supervillain Bane, and the boy name Ranaridh is similar to the name of former Cambodian prime minister Norodom Ranariddh, who died in late 2021.

Finally, in 2020, the top baby names on the island were Nora/Charlotte (tie) and Hudson.

*Nova and Lucas might actually be 4th-place names. My source included conflicting information.

Source: Alice, Oliver most popular P.E.I. baby names in 2021 (12/29)

What gave the baby name Brittania a boost in 1980?

Brittania advertisement

In 1979 and 1980, four very similar girl names — Brittania, Brittanya, Britania and Britanya — all popped up in the U.S. baby name data:

BrittaniaBrittanyaBritaniaBritanya
198313...
1982136..
1981357910
198060†19*13*16*
19795*...
1978....
1977....
*Debut, †Peak usage

What put them there?

A marketing campaign for Brittania blue jeans.

Sportswear brand Brittania (pronounced brih-TAN-yah) was launched in Seattle in 1973 by businessman Walter Schoenfeld.

He was inspired to start selling “washed” blue jeans to Americans after spotting “a pair of faded blue denim slacks in the window of a London shop.” (Brittania jeans were “fashionable alternatives to the dark denim Levi’s that were so prevalent at that time.”)

Sales of Britannia jeans increased throughout the 1970s:

In less than 10 years, Brittania Sportswear was selling 30 million pairs a year and Brittania — Schoenfeld spelled it that way to distinguish his brand from the Royal Yacht Britannia — had a team of 40 to 50 designers and about 400 employees in Seattle.

Then, in 1980, Schoenfeld made a “decision which ran against his better judgment: Brittania embarked on the first full-scale advertising campaign in its history.”

Brittania advertisement, 1981
“My home is Texas but I live in Brittania!”

That year, the company spent about $9 million on advertising. The result was the “My home is __ but I live in Brittania” marketing campaign.

The campaign was very successful; brand recognition increased from 48% in 1978 to 96% in 1980.

But it also created a new problem: too much demand for the product. By the spring of 1980, the company “had a 50 percent increase in orders over the previous year, but lacked production capacity to fill them.”

This situation, along with several other issues, led the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 1983. Several years after that, it was purchased by Levi Strauss.

Brittania advertisement

Brittania may not be around anymore, but, as the very first designer jeans company in the U.S., it paved the way for brands like Jordache, Murjani, and Chardon.

It also helped kick the baby name Brittany into high gear circa 1980:

popularity graph for the baby name Brittany
  • 1983: 4,377 baby girls named Brittany [64th]
  • 1982: 3,102 baby girls named Brittany [94th]
  • 1981: 1,714 baby girls named Brittany [165th]
  • 1980: 1,406 baby girls named Brittany [190th]
  • 1979: 792 baby girls named Brittany [300th]
  • 1978: 630 baby girls named Brittany [345th]
  • 1977: 488 baby girls named Brittany [419th]

What are your thoughts on the baby name Brittania? (Do you like it more or less than Brittany?)

P.S. Did you know that Seattle’s apparel industry was born in the wake of the Klondike gold rush? Many prospectors bought provisions in Seattle before heading north to Alaska. Apparel companies founded in Seattle include Filson (1897), Nordstrom (1901), and Eddie Bauer (1920).

Sources: