What gave the baby name Glenn a boost in 1962?

Astronaut John Glenn (1921-2016)
John Glenn

On February 20, 1962, 40-year-old military test pilot John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

He was also the third American in space, and the fifth human being in space (after Yuri Gagarin, Alan Shepard, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, and Gherman Titov).

Glenn was the sole astronaut inside the Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7 when it launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at around 9:45 am. He orbited the planet three times before returning the Earth — splashing down in the vicinity of Grand Turk Island nearly 5 hours after takeoff.

Given the significance of the event, it’s not surprising that the baby name Glenn saw a corresponding spike in usage in 1962:

  • 1964: 4,750 baby boys named Glenn
  • 1963: 5,970 baby boys named Glenn
  • 1962: 7,361 baby boys named Glenn [peak usage]
  • 1961: 6,268 baby boys named Glenn
  • 1960: 5,563 baby boys named Glenn

The name John didn’t see higher usage that year, but we know from the post on baby names inspired by Mercury astronauts that other babies were given the first-middle combo “John Glenn” in tribute to the astronaut.

Sources: John Glenn – Wikipedia, About Project Mercury – NASA, Death of John H. Glenn, Jr. – U.S. Marine Corps, SSA

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