A few weeks back, a reader named Caitlin emailed me a cool list of well-known names that were decreasing in usage. Her list included:
Andrew, now ranked 40th — lowest ranking since 1963
Michael, now ranked 12th — lowest ranking since 1942
David, now ranked 23rd — lowest ranking since 1924
She also generously told me that I could share her findings (thank you Caitlin!).
The names that intrigued me most were the “lowest ever” names: names that had been in the data since 1880, but that saw their lowest usage ever (in terms of rankings) in 2017. Three of the boy names on her list — Paul, Richard, Robert — were “lowest ever” names, so I decided start with these and search for others.
I checked hundreds of potential candidates. Many (like Andrew, Michael, and David) hit a low in 2017, but it wasn’t their all-time low. Many others (like Stanley, Alvin, and Clarence) hit a low recently, but not as recently as 2017.
In the end, I was able to add 15 names to the list:
Allen. Ranked 401st in 2017; peak was 71st in the 1940s/1950s.
Dennis. Ranked 544th in 2017; peak was 16th in the 1940s.
Edgar. Ranked 353rd in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1880s.
Edwin. Ranked 332nd in 2017; peak was 52nd in the 1910s/1920s.
Frank. Ranked 373rd in 2017; peak was 6th in the 1880s/1890s.
Gerald. Ranked 824th in 2017; peak was 19th in the 1930s.
Glenn. Ranked 1,288th in 2017; peak was 55th in the 1960s.
Herman. Ranked 2,347th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1880s/1890s.
Jerome. Ranked 857th in 2017; peak was 93rd in the 1930s.
Jesse. Ranked 186th in 2017; peak was 37th in the 1980s.
Lloyd. Ranked 1,570th in 2017; peak was 51st in the 1910s.
Martin. Ranked 281st in 2017; peak was 62nd in the 1960s.
Marvin. Ranked 559th in 2017; peak was 44th in the 1930s.
Paul. Ranked 225th in 2017; peak was 12th in the 1910s/1930s.
Raymond. Ranked 293rd in 2017; peak was 14th in the 1910s.
Richard. Ranked 175th in 2017; peak was 5th in the 1930s/1940s.
Robert. Ranked 65th in 2017; peak was 1st in the 1920s/1930s/1950s.
Wayne. Ranked 816th in 2017; peak was 29th in the 1940s.
Interestingly, all 18 have spent time in the top 100. And one, Robert, is still in the top 100. (How long before Robert is out of the top 100, do you think?)
A handful of girl names also saw their lowest-ever rankings in 2017. I’ll post that list next week…
The eye-catching name Sakeena debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1957:
1961: 9 baby girls named Sakeena
1957: 8 baby girls named Sakeena [debut]
Where does it come from? I’ve traced it to jazz drummer/bandleader Arthur “Art” Blakey. He and his second wife, Diana, welcomed a baby girl named Sakeena in early 1957. The same year, Art Blakey and his band The Jazz Messengers put out at least two songs with the name Sakeena in the title:
“Sakeena” on the album Cu-Bop (1957), and
“Sweet Sakeena” on the album Hard Drive (1957).
The news of baby Sakeena’s birth didn’t seem to garner any attention, so it was either one or both of these songs that boosted the name Sakeena onto the charts.
It fell back off the charts the next year, but reappeared in 1961, after the release of a third song with Sakeena in the title: “Sakeena’s Vision” on the Art Blakey album The Big Beat (1960). This song was written by saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter. Here’s what a biography of Shorter said about the genesis of “Sakeena’s Vision”:
Sakeena was an unusual two-year-old who had developed the precocious habit of sizing up visitors like a hanging judge the moment they stepped into the Blakey house. “If they were cool, Sakeena was cool,” Wayne said. “If they weren’t, then she wasn’t either. Art said, ‘Sakeena’s hip to them all,’ and let the child have the run of the house.” The toddler made an impression on Wayne, enough to inspire a composition with a difficult, penetrating melody line.
Do you like the name Sakeena?
P.S. Art had quite a few children in total, but the only other child he had with Diana was a son named Gamal, born in 1959.
Gourse, Leslie. Art Blakey: Jazz Messenger. New York: Schirmer Trade Books, 2002.
Mercer, Michelle. Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter. New York: Tarcher/Penguin Books, 2007.
Oodles of multiples — eight sets of twins, one set of triplets, six sets of quadruplets, and one set of quintuplets — were featured in an early 1944 issue of LIFE magazine. Most of these multiples had been born in the 1920s and 1930s.
Curious about the names? I knew you would be! Here they are, along with ages and other details.
Marjorie and Mary Vaughan, 19.
Lois and Lucille Barnes, 21.
Betty and Lenore Wade, early 20s.
Robert “Bobby” and William “Billy” Mauch, 22.
They had starred in the 1937 movie The Prince and the Pauper.
Blaine and Wayne Rideout, 27.
They had been track stars at the University of North Texas in the late 1930s along with another set of twins, Elmer and Delmer Brown.
Charles and Horace Hildreth, 41.
Horace was elected Governor of Maine later the same year.
Ivan and Malvin Albright, 47.
Auguste and Jean Piccard, 60.
“Honors as the world’s most distinguished pair of twins must go to Jean and Auguste Piccard, stratosphere balloonists, who are so identical that not everyone realizes there are two of them.”
Diane Carol, Elizabeth Ann, and Karen Lynn Quist, 11 months.