How did William McKinley influence baby names?

U.S. President William McKinley (1843-1901)
William McKinley

William McKinley may have lost his mountain namesake, but he still got plenty of human namesakes back in the 1890s and early 1900s.

For instance, the New York Times reported in June of 1896 that Mr. and Mrs. John Karl of South Baltimore had welcomed a son named William McKinley Karl. “It is the first baby in Baltimore, so far as is known, to be named for the popular statesman, and the parents are proud of the fact.”

Turns out there were at least two earlier Baltimore babies named William McKinley, though. One was William McKinley Tilghman, born in October of 1895.

William McKinley’s election in 1896 had no discernible influence on the already-popular baby name William, but it did give the name McKinley a boost nationally:

  • 1898: 79 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1897: 115 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1896: 121 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1895: 34 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1894: 19 baby boys named McKinley

His re-election in 1900 gave the surname another boost:

  • 1901: 77 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1900: 133 baby boys named McKinley
  • 1899: 72 baby boys named McKinley

These days, though, most parents who bestow this name are giving it to girls as opposed to boys.

What are your thoughts on the name McKinley?


Image: LOC

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