Mystery baby name: Delphine (Solved!)

The baby name Delphine has an interesting popularity graph. Usage of the name peaked in the 1920s and it may have had a long, slow decline all the way to the end of the century…if not for a period of increased in usage from the late ’40s until the early ’60s.

Even more curious? A spike in the number babies named Delphine in 1958:

  • 1960: 192 baby girls named Delphine
  • 1959: 252 baby girls named Delphine
  • 1958: 347 baby girls named Delphine
  • 1957: 132 baby girls named Delphine
  • 1956: 154 baby girls named Delphine

I’m not sure what caused the turnaround in the late ’40s (maybe Delphine Downing played a part?) and I’m also not sure what caused the spike.

Any ideas?

UPDATE: Commenter Becca figured out the spike. It was caused by the TV show Kitty Foyle, which aired on NBC during the first half of 1958. Thanks, Becca!

7 thoughts on “Mystery baby name: Delphine (Solved!)

  1. Ooh, this is a mystery! It’s even better because Delphine’s peak year in France was 1977:

    So it can’t be French influence …

    I think Delphine Downing is a possibility.

    There’s also this Anne Baxter role:

    That’s 1958. There’s also actress Delphine Seyrig, who was acting by then, but it doesn’t seem like she could have had a major impact.

    Back to France … Christian Dior’s Delphine dress was a big deal in 1956.

    So many little things, but none of them seems to be the original thing that sparked Delphine’s rise.

  2. I was wondering Delphine Seyrig too… Her film career didn’t take off until the 60’s, but her husband, artist Jack Youngerman, had some pretty major art exhibits in NYC starting in 1958. And they hung around with a lot of famous artists and poets of the era (like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.) I can’t find any reviews of his exhibits, but maybe she was photographed in a major publication?

  3. Thank you for the ideas, Abby and Julie!

    I checked the SSA state lists, just to see if a large number of the 1958 Delphines happened to be born in New York. Nope — turns out most were born in North Carolina and Michigan:

    NC – 30
    MI – 28
    GA – 22
    LA – 22
    SC – 22
    VA – 22
    PA – 19
    AL – 17
    FL – 17
    MS – 17
    NY – 15
    TX – 12
    OH – 11
    IL – 10
    TN – 8
    MO – 7
    WV – 7
    MD – 6
    DC – 5
    NJ – 5

  4. I may have solved this one: Delphine Detaille is a character in various adaptations of “Kitty Foyle.” The 1940 film and the 1942-44 radio show don’t seem to have caused a spike in the name; however; there was a short-lived TV adaptation in 1958.

    Here’s a news clipping: “Lisa Ferraday appears next week for the first time in the NBC-TV live daytime series “Kitty Foyle.” Miss Ferraday, as Delphine Detaille, world famous cosmetic genius, meets Kitty Foyle (Kathleen Murray) and a friendship starts to develop. Later in the series, Kitty will go to work for Delphine in New York. Miss Ferraday will make six appearances in the next 13 weeks firmly establishing the character of Delphine Detaille.”

    I even found a woman named “Delphine Detaille Jones” who was born in Connecticut in 1958!

  5. Thank you, Becca! That has to be it.

    And it looks like that TV adaptation of Kitty Foyle also influenced the usage of Kitty, which saw a similar spike in 1958.

    Terrific sleuthing! :)

  6. *curtsy*

    There’s a character named Delphine on current TV show Orphan Black, and I was originally looking at the Delphine stats to see whether that had caused an uptick in current usage (answer: looks like it has, a little bit!)

    Orphan Black has also caused a spike in the name Cosima.

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