How did John F. Kennedy influence baby names in the 1960s?

President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was elected U.S. president in late 1960, began serving his term in early 1961, and was assassinated in Texas on November 22, 1963 (53 years ago today).

During the first half of the 1960s — especially around the time of the assassination — all three of his names saw increased usage on the U.S. baby name charts. In fact, both Fitzgerald and Kennedy (as a male name) saw their highest-ever usage in 1964:

Boys named JohnBoys named FitzgeraldBoys named Kennedy
196571,563 [rank: 2nd]58 [rank: 970th]122 [rank: 674th]
196482,541 [rank: 2nd]125 [rank: 691st]230 [rank: 516th]
196378,645 [rank: 2nd]52 158 [rank: 624th]
196278,450 [rank: 3rd]1085 [rank: 828th]
196179,910 [rank: 3rd]24177 [rank: 592nd]
196076,124 [rank: 4th].117 [rank: 723rd]
195976,425 [rank: 4th].21

Intriguingly, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum maintains a small collection of correspondence regarding babies named after JFK. The collection consists of 34 items (mostly typewritten and handwritten letters/telegrams) delivered from 1960 to 1963 that document eight specific JFK namesakes. Here are most of them:

  • John Kennedy Adjei, born circa 1961 in Kumasi, Ghana
  • John Kennedy Grant, born in July, 1960, in Haverstraw, New York
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy Jones, born on July 15, 1960, in Massillon, Ohio
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on August 17, 1960, at Minot AFB in North Dakota
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy, born on September 8, 1960, in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
  • John Kennedy Twyman, born on May 15, 1960, in Cincinnati, Ohio

The name Jacqueline also saw peak usage in the early 1960s. It reached 37th twice during this period: once in 1961, again in 1964. (Did you know that Jacqueline Kennedy pronounced her name “JAK-uh-leen“?)

Source: SSA
Image: John F. Kennedy – U.S. National Archives

[Latest update: 8/2023]

4 thoughts on “How did John F. Kennedy influence baby names in the 1960s?

  1. The pronunciation you give of “Jacqueline” is the one Jackie Kennedy used, right? Not the way most Americans pronounce it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met an American Jacqueline who said “JAK-a-leen” (can’t write the schwa right now). JACK-a-lyn or JACK-lyn are the usual ways in my experience.

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