Mystery baby name: Carlester

Graph of the usage of the baby name Carlester in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Carlester

Ready for another mystery baby name? Today we’ve got Carlester, which hopped on and off the SSA’s list (with curious regularity) throughout the ’50s:

  • 1959: 6 baby boys named Carlester
  • 1958: 9 baby boys named Carlester (5 born in Maryland)
  • 1957: unlisted
  • 1956: 9 baby boys named Carlester (5 born in Maryland)
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 11 baby boys named Carlester
  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: 10 baby boys named Carlester [debut]
  • 1951: unlisted

So far, I can’t pinpoint the source.

The name Carlester definitely wasn’t new in 1952 — dozens of people all over the U.S. had been named Carlester prior to the 1950s, going back to at least the late 1800s.

And, contrary to what the SSA data implies, most of the 1950s usage was far to the south of Maryland. In fact, during the first few years of the decade, it looks like most of the usage was in North Carolina specifically. Football player Carlester Crumpler was born in North Carolina in 1951, for instance.

There could be an African-American angle here, but I’ve checked several African-American publications from the time period and haven’t yet spotted a Carlester (or a Carl Ester).

Any idea why the name Carlester started seeing higher usage in the early ’50s?

4 thoughts on “Mystery baby name: Carlester

  1. This is timely — the grocery store clerk who rung me up the other night was named Carlester. I’m in the DC area (albeit Virginia, not Maryland) and he was a black man who looked to be the right age to be one of the ’50s Carlesters. If I spot him in the store again, I’ll ask where he got his name,

  2. I ended up in Carlester’s line again! He said he wasn’t sure where his mom got the name, but the only other one he’d ever heard of was a coach. (I forget which sport.) Maybe a lead, maybe he was just talking about one of the ones you’ve already heard of. Sorry the lead didn’t pan out much.

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