Popular Baby Names in Providence, RI, 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 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.

Where did the baby name Generra come from?

Generra TV commercial, circa 1986
Generra TV commercial, circa 1986

The name Generra began appearing in the U.S. baby name data in the mid-1980s:

  • 1989: 6 baby girls named Generra
  • 1988: 8 baby girls named Generra
  • 1987: 10 baby girls named Generra [peak]
  • 1986: 6 baby girls named Generra [debut]
  • 1985: unlisted
  • 1984: unlisted

Why?

Because of the clothing brand Generra.

Generra Sportswear Co. was founded in Seattle in 1980 (by former Brittania employees). Originally, it focused on men’s sportswear exclusively.

In 1986, “the company added children’s wear and women’s wear items to their portfolio.” This expansion, plus all the associated advertising, is likely the reason Generra debuted as a girl name in 1986 specifically.

Generra Hypercolor shirt
Generra Hypercolor shirt

The name was last in the data in 1991 — ironically, the very same year the company introduced its trendy Hypercolor clothing (which changed color according to the temperature).

Generra ended up putting “too much money into the Hypercolor fad,” though, and this, along with other factors, forced the company to file for bankruptcy protection in mid-1992.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Generra?

Sources:

Popular Baby Names on PEI, 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.

(More of PEI’s unique baby names can be found on Patreon.)

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)

Where did the baby name Tondra come from?

Kidnapping victim Terry Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina in 1946.
Terry Taylor, 4 years old

The interesting name Tondra first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1946:

  • 1949: unlisted
  • 1948: 9 baby girls named Tondra
  • 1947: unlisted
  • 1946: 9 baby girls named Tondra [debut]
  • 1945: unlisted
  • 1944: unlisted

I don’t know why it dropped out of the data and then returned in 1948 with the same (relatively high) number of babies — that’s not a typical pattern — but I can explain the initial appearance.

In February and March of 1946, the kidnapping of 4-year-old Terry Taylor of Charlotte, North Carolina, was front-page news across the nation for several days straight.

Terry, her 5-year-old sister Tondra Taylor, and their 19-year-old nursemaid Rosemary Johnson were at a park in Charlotte one Tuesday when Rosemary decided to take Terry on a bus ride out of state. (They left Tondra behind at the park.)

The pair remained missing until Thursday night, when they were discovered in Annapolis, Maryland. Rosemary had managed to find a position as a maid. She had told the homeowners that she was the child’s widowed mother, but the homeowners became suspicious (in part because the child called herself Terry even though Rosemary insisted the name was Jerry) and called the police.

Terry’s parents drove to Annapolis on Friday to retrieve her, and nursemaid Rosemary was arrested. (Turns out her real name was Loretta Brozek. She was found guilty in July and sentenced to seven years in federal prison, but in October she was transferred to a mental institution.)

Though older sister Tondra was never the focus of the story, her name was mentioned repeatedly in the news that week.

And, ironically, Tondra’s name wasn’t really Tondra — it was Tonda (according to the North Carolina birth records, the 1940 U.S. census, and at least one early news report). In fact, she seems to be the same Tonda Taylor who founded the LGBTQ group Time Out Youth in Charlotte in 1991.

The name Terry — already on the rise for both genders at that time — also saw a jump in usage in 1946.

Do you like the name Tondra? How about Tonda?

Sources:

Name Change: Michael to Martin Luther

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr., was not born with the name “Martin”?

Martin Luther King, Sr., was originally named Michael King. When he welcomed his second child (and first son) in early 1929, the baby was named Michael as well.

Several years later, in 1934, Rev. Michael King — a pastor in Atlanta — traveled overseas to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin. While there, he “witnessed the beginnings of Nazi Germany” under Germany’s new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which led to a split with the Catholic Church.

When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name and his son’s from Michael to Martin Luther, after the German Protestant leader.

The name on MLK Jr.’s birth certificate wasn’t officially changed from “Michael” to “Martin Luther” until 1957, when he was 28.

Source: Clanton, Nancy. “Why Martin Luther King Jr.’s father changed their names.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 15 Jan. 2021.