Where did the baby name Jeannedarc come from in 1920?

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)
Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc)

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) — known as Jeanne d’Arc (pronounced zhan dark, roughly) in her homeland of France — was a peasant, a mystic, and a warrior during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

Well, she wasn’t a “warrior” exactly. She never actually fought in battle. She was more of an “inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon.”

In any case, she ended up being captured by the enemy, convicted of heresy and witchcraft (among other things), excommunicated from the church, and burned at the stake — all before the age of 20.

But a few decades later the verdict was overturned, the excommunication was invalidated, and she was declared a martyr.

And during the centuries that followed, her reputation grew — especially among the French.

Despite all this, the well-known St. Joan didn’t officially become a Roman Catholic saint until the early 20th century. She was canonized in May of 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

The same year, the full French form of her name, Jeannedarc, appeared in the U.S. baby name data for the first time. It popped up a total of five times during the 1920s (but it hasn’t been back since).

  • 1922: unlisted
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
  • 1920: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted
  • 1918: unlisted

(The SSA strips out spaces, apostrophes, and mid-name capital letters; this explains why “Jeanne d’Arc” is rendered “Jeannedarc” in the data.)

that’s not all, though Records show that more than a few of the babies simply named Jeanne and Joan in the 1920s had as middle names “d’Arc” and “of Arc.” Two examples:

  • Jeanne D’Arc Florabel Menard, daughter of David and Georgiana Menard, born in Vermont in 1924.
  • Joan of Arc Mary Agnes Chabot, daughter of Thomas and Zelia Chabot, born in Vermont in 1923.

A disproportionate number of these 1920s babies named Jeanne d’Arc and Joan of Arc were born in the Northeastern U.S. to families of French (Canadian) extraction.

Interestingly, St. Joan herself only used the medieval spelling of her name, “Jehanne,” and never included the surname “d’Arc,” which was a form of her father’s surname. In fact, if she’d been forced to use a surname, she likely would have chosen her mother’s, Romée, as per hometown tradition. The surname Romée denoted someone who had made a pilgrimage (though not necessarily to Rome).


Image: Les vies des femmes célèbres

2 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Jeannedarc come from in 1920?

  1. The second last point that you made brings me to this website here: http://lesprenoms.net/lustrehf18901998.htm

    According to that website, in Québec, Jeanne-D’arc reached the top 20 in the period between 1920 and 1924 (2% of girls were named Jeanne-D’arc in that period and it was one of the top 10 names at that time), which fits in with the canonisation of Joan of Arc, and that was the only period of time Jeanne-D’arc was in the top 20.

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