Yesterday we talked about Calvin Coolidge, so today here’s a quick story involving his wife, Grace:
In October of 1926, several earthquakes struck Turkey and Armenia. (They were centered near the city of Kars.)
American medical personnel set up in Leninakan (now Gyumri) to help the survivors. In the week following the first quake, dozens of babies were born in the American tent hospital. The first of these babies was a girl that the American nurses “named Grace Coolidge Dubenikan, in honor of the first lady of the United States.”
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]
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:
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.)
The baby name Leilani — which means both “heavenly flowers” and “royal child” in Hawaiian — is very close to entering the U.S. top 100 for the first time.
It’s been making appearances in the top 1,000, though, for quite a while — starting way back in the 1930s:
1939: 98 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 689th]
1938: 101 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 685th]
1937: 81 baby girls named Leilani [rank: 758th]
1936: 8 baby girls named Leilani
1935: 9 baby girls named Leilani
What gave it that initial boost?
The song “Sweet Leilani” from the film Waikiki Wedding (1937), which starred Bing Crosby. Crosby’s rendition of the song became one of the top songs of 1937, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in March of 1938.1
The song hadn’t been created with the movie in mind, though. It had been composed by songwriter Harry Owens several years earlier.
Owens, originally from Nebraska, became the musical director of the orchestra at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel2 in Waikiki in 1934. He and his wife were living on Oahu when they welcomed their first child, a baby girl, in October. The day after Leilani Katherine was born, Owens wrote “Sweet Leilani” for her.
What are your thoughts on the Hawaiian name Leilani?
1A few years later, Crosby scored another hit with “Sierra Sue.”
2The Royal Hawaiian Hotel “was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino.”
According to the government of Northern Territory, Australia, the most popular baby names in NT in 2020 were Charlotte and William.
Here are Northern Territory’s top 10 girl names and top 10+ boy names of 2020:
Charlotte, 15 baby girls
Isla, 12 (tie)
Matilda, 12 (tie)
Amelia, 10 (5-way tie)
Grace, 10 (5-way tie)
Hazel, 10 (5-way tie)
Mia, 10 (5-way tie)
Willow, 10 (5-way tie)
William, 20 baby boys
Henry, 11 (3-way tie)
James, 11 (3-way tie)
Noah, 11 (3-way tie)
Hudson, 10 (3-way tie)
Isaac, 10 (3-way tie)
Thomas, 10 (3-way tie)
On the boys’ side, Thomas is followed by an 8-way tie involving two names I don’t usually see in the rankings: Billy and Mayson. Mayson is especially interesting because the more traditional spelling, Mason, hasn’t made the list for the last two years (after ranking as high as 2nd in 2017).
In 2019, the top two names in NT were Grace and Oliver.
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