What popularized the baby name Marva in the 1930s?

Boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981)
Joe Louis

According to the U.S. baby name data, usage of the name Marva increased quite a bit from 1934 to 1936:

  • 1937: 342 baby girls named Marva (ranked 342nd)
  • 1936: 350 baby girls named Marva (ranked 334th)
  • 1935: 187 baby girls named Marva (ranked 466th)
  • 1934: 74 baby girls named Marva (ranked 785th)
  • 1933: 60 baby girls named Marva (ranked 873rd)


Because of Marva Trotter, who married heavyweight boxer Joe Louis on September 24, 1935.

A few hours later, Joe fought fellow heavyweight Max Baer at Yankee Stadium:

Joe Louis entered the ring last night a married man, and his radiant bride, who until ten minutes before Joe left the apartment house at 381 Edgecombe Avenue for the Yankee Stadium was simply Miss Marva Trotter, 19-year-old Chicago secretary, sat in a ringside seat and urged her man on to do his best.

Louis won the fight by knockout in the fourth round.

September 24th was also an eventful day in the lives of Willis and Esther Scott of Beloit, Wisconsin. That evening, they welcomed twins — one boy, one girl. What did they name the babies? Joseph Louis and Josephine Marva, after the boxer and his new bride. (On the 1940 U.S. Census, 4-year-old Joseph is listed as “Joe Louis.”)


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