How did Douglas MacArthur influence baby names in the early 1940s?

American military leader Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)
Douglas MacArthur

Douglas MacArthur was the popular U.S. Army General who received the Medal of Honor in 1942 for his service in the (first) Philippines Campaign of World War II.

How many babies were named in honor of Douglas MacArthur in 1942?

Quite a few. The number of babies named Douglas nearly tripled that year:

  • 1944: 6,996 baby boys named Douglas [rank: 34th]
  • 1943: 8,231 baby boys named Douglas [rank: 28th]
  • 1942: 11,234 baby boys named Douglas [rank: 23rd]
  • 1941: 4,149 baby boys named Douglas [rank: 53rd]
  • 1940: 3,729 baby boys named Douglas [rank: 56th]

And the number of baby boys named MacArthur (or some variant thereof) also swelled:


Variant “Mcarther” was the top debut name for baby boys in 1942, and variant “Macarther” was a one-hit wonder.

Isn’t it strange how “McArthur” became more popular than “MacArthur”? Perhaps certain newspapers of the day had trouble spelling the surname correctly.

Speaking of the media, many publications made note of the sudden trendiness of “Douglas MacArthur” as a baby name. For instance, here’s a small item from an April, 1942, issue of Time magazine:

“Born. Douglas MacArthur Brotherson, Douglas MacArthur Bryant, Douglas MacArthur Francis, Douglas MacArthur Miller, Douglas MacArthur Gunner, Douglas MacArthur Salavec, Douglas MacArthur Thompson, and Douglas Harold MacArthur; all in New York City.”

Finally, a few MacArthur-related asides:

  • Did you know that a string of men in Douglas MacArthur’s family had the partially reduplicated name Arthur MacArthur?
  • MacArthur was the one in charge of clearing the Bonus Expeditionary Force out of Washington, DC, back in 1932.
  • Another U.S. military man whose name became a trendy after a battle in the Philippines was George Dewey.


Image: Adapted from Douglas MacArthur (public domain)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.