“Coolidge” as a Baby Name?

coolidge, 1920s, baby name, politics, president
Calvin Coolidge

John Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States from 1923 until 1929 — finishing Warren G. Harding’s term from 1923 to 1925, and then serving as the elected president from 1925 to 1929.

It’s not hard to guess that the baby name Calvin saw peak usage during this window (specifically, in 1924), but what about the name Coolidge?

“Coolidge” started appearing in the U.S. baby name rather early, actually:

  • 1928: 12 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1927: 33 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1926: 40 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1925: 77 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1924: 82 baby boys named Coolidge [peak]
  • 1923: 46 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1922: 5 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1921: 10 baby boys named Coolidge
  • 1920: 8 baby boys named Coolidge [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

Why?

It could have been the attention Calvin Coolidge had gotten in his handling of the Boston Police Strike in September of 1919, while he was the governor of Massachusetts. (“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time,” he stated in a telegram regarding the strike.)

Or, of course, it could have the fact that he was unexpectedly chosen as Warren Harding’s running mate in 1920.

Here’s the SSDI data, for a different perspective on the usage of Coolidge during the same time period:

  • 1928: 13 people named Coolidge
  • 1927: 18 people named Coolidge
  • 1926: 23 people named Coolidge
  • 1925: 52 people named Coolidge
  • 1924: 63 people named Coolidge
  • 1923: 34 people named Coolidge
  • 1922: 2 people named Coolidge
  • 1921: 8 people named Coolidge
  • 1920: 5 people named Coolidge
  • 1919: 2 people named Coolidge

Two of the many 1920s babies named after Calvin Coolidge were Calvin Coolidge Rogers (b. 1924 in Plymouth, Vermont — where Coolidge himself was born) and baseball player Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish (b. 1925).

What does the surname Coolidge mean? It was originally an occupational name for someone who worked for, or was otherwise associated with, a university college. (This included, for instance, the tenant farmers who worked on college farms.)

What do you think of “Coolidge” as a given name?

Sources:

P.S. The baby names Warren and Harding both saw peak usage in 1921.

The One-Hit Wonder Yuvawn

The curious name Yuvawn was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data late 1920s:

  • 1930: unlisted
  • 1929: unlisted
  • 1928: 6 baby girls named Yuvawn [debut]
  • 1927: unlisted
  • 1926: unlisted

What inspired it?

As with Myraline from last month, this one came from a precocious child — though this was one was even younger than the first one.

Her name was YuVawn Shotts, and she was a 7-month-old from Birmingham, Alabama.

In July of 1928, the newspapers were calling her an “infant prodigy” because of her advanced speaking skills. They said she could speak like a 6-year-old and had perfect enunciation (her words were “pronounced without the usual baby accent”).

She could say “eat” as a 1-week-old and “Daddy” at 2 weeks. She knew the word “up” at 1 month, but over time this evolved to “I want up,” and then “I want to get up.” As a 7-month-old, she could say things like “little girl,” “look here,” and “eats are good.”

(Incidentally, some of the newspapers also mentioned that YuVawn had a 6-year-old sister, Wylodine, who was an accomplished pianist.)

YuVawn’s name seems to be a form of Yvonne. In fact, “Yvonne” is exactly how the enumerator spelled her name on the 1930 U.S. Census:

A few weeks after YuVawn was in the news, her name was highlighted a second time by syndicated columnist Allene Sumber who, in a piece that poked fun at child prodigies, started off with some name snark:

Concerning this talking baby of Birmingham, whose name, for some reason, known only to her parents, perhaps only to one of them, is YuVawn.

What are your thoughts on the baby name YuVawn?

Sources:

  • “‘Hey, Hey, I Want to Get Up’ Tiny Baby Distinctly Wails When She’s Ready to Arise.” Athens Messenger [Ohio] 3 Jul. 1928: 1.
  • Sumner, Allene. “The Woman’s Day.” Anniston Star 26 Jul. 1928: 5.
  • “Talks at 7 Months like a 6-Year-Old.” Reading Times [Penn.] 3 Jul. 1928: 3.

Narice: One-Hit Wonder Baby Name

narice, baby name, literature, 1926
Cosmopolitan, Feb. 1926

Back in 1926, the name Narice popped up in the U.S. baby name data with an impressive 13 baby girls. Right after that, it dropped out of the data — and it’s been out of the data ever since, making it a one-hit wonder. (It was the top one-hit wonder of 1926, in fact.)

  • 1928: unlisted
  • 1927: unlisted
  • 1926: 13 baby girls named Narice
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: unlisted

What put the name in the data in the first place?

A short story called The Dice of God. It was serialized in Cosmopolitan magazine (back when Cosmo focused on fiction) starting in February of 1926, and appears to have been expanded and published as a standalone book the same year.

The tale was written by South African romance novelist Cynthia Stockley (1863-1936), who was popular in various English-speaking countries during the early 20th century. Several of her books were even turned into American silent films.

The story was set “amidst the lush and dangerous scenery of the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia,” and its two main characters were women named Anne Havilland and Narice Vanne — an author and an illustrator working on a travel book together. Here’s more from the synopsis on dust jacket:

When Sir Anthony Tulloch, better known to his fellows as “Bad Luck,” looked upon the girlish beauty of Narice Vanne, his fate was clear to him; but he had not reckoned with Anne Havilland, who was also beautiful,–in a very different way.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Narice?

Source: Book Review Digest, 1926

The Emergence of Myraline

myraline, baby name, news, 1924

The unusual name Myraline was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data mid-1920s:

  • 1926: unlisted
  • 1925: unlisted
  • 1924: 6 baby girls named Myraline
  • 1923: unlisted
  • 1922: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A precocious toddler from Covington, Kentucky.

Her name was Myraline Allen, and she was an 18-month-old who, according to the newspapers, “already [knew] the alphabet and identified and plainly spoke each name when asked by different spectators in a recent extensive test.”

I can’t find any other record of Myraline, so I can’t tell you what became of her. But I can make an educated guess that the babies named after Myraline in ’24 were from small towns, as this was a photo distributed by the Autocaster service, which provided content and advertising to rural newspapers.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Myraline?

Source: “Your Baby Can Be Wonder Baby Too, if…” Pulaski Southwest Times 2 Oct. 1924: 2.

The Baby Name Neysa

Neysa McMein

The name Neysa first popped up in the U.S. baby name data in 1917. It began seeing regular usage during the 1920s:

  • 1924: 10 baby girls named Neysa
  • 1923: 8 baby girls named Neysa
  • 1922: 12 baby girls named Neysa
  • 1921: 7 baby girls named Neysa
  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: unlisted
  • 1918: 9 baby girls named Neysa
  • 1917: 9 baby girls named Neysa [debut]
  • 1916: unlisted
  • 1915: unlisted

What put this name on the map?

Illustrator Neysa McMein, whose creations — typically drawings of pretty young women — were featured prominently in magazines and advertisements during the 1920s and 1930s. For instance, Neysa drew every single McCall’s magazine cover from 1923 to 1937, 62 Saturday Evening Post covers from 1916 to 1939, and gave a face to Betty Crocker in 1936.

Beyond her art, Neysa McMein was also a well-known personality of the Roaring Twenties. She was “mentioned or quoted in magazine articles, fiction, and in advertisements with some regularity.” According to theater director George Abbott, “every taxi-cab driver, every salesgirl, every reader of columns, knew about the fabulous Neysa.”

Interestingly, though, she didn’t start out as a Neysa. She was born a Marjorie.

In 1911, after growing up in Illinois and graduating from art school in Chicago, she moved to New York City to both launch her career and forge a new identity — which included adopting a new name.

Though she told the press that “Neysa” had been suggested by a numerologist, she told her husband a different story: that “Neysa” was the name of an Arabian filly she’d encountered while visiting cartoonist/horse breeder Homer Davenport in New Jersey.

Regardless of the source, she did say that she believed the name Neysa had more “commercial value” than the name Marjorie.

What are your thoughts on the name Neysa? Would you use it?

Sources: