Baby named after chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit

Chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit (1884-1967)
Evelyn Nesbit

In early 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Babcock of Kalamazoo, Michigan, couldn’t agree on a baby name.

Mrs. Babcock wanted the baby girl to be called Evelyn Nesbit Babcock after chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit. Why? Because Nesbit’s stepfather’s surname, Holman, also happened to be Mrs. Babcock’s maiden name.

Mr. Babcock objected, noting “the child might be unlucky.” (Nesbit’s husband Harry Kendall Thaw had murdered her ex-lover, Stanford White, in a jealous rage in mid-1906.)

At the christening, after a “whispered conversation between the parents and clergyman,” Mr. Babcock acquiesced. Afterwords, the minister said that “he trusted the child would make a better record than her namesake, although, he added, the wife of Stanford White’s slayer was a creature of circumstance.”

Mr. and Mrs. Babcock weren’t the only parents influenced by Evelyn Nesbit in 1907:

  • 1909: 3,157 baby girls named Evelyn, ranked 18th
  • 1908: 2,857 baby girls named Evelyn, ranked 20th
  • 1907: 3,035 baby girls named Evelyn, ranked 18th
  • 1906: 2,077 baby girls named Evelyn, ranked 32nd
  • 1905: 1,661 baby girls named Evelyn, ranked 46th

The name Evelyn was already increasing in popularity at the time, but the murder and subsequent trial (January to April, 1907) gave it an extra boost in ’07.


Image: Evelyn Nesbit

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