What gave the baby name Neva a nudge in 1953?

Neva Jane Langley (1933-2012), Miss America 1953
Neva Jane Langley

The name Neva, which was most popular during during the 1910s and ’20s, saw an uptick in usage in the early 1950s:

  • 1955: 180 baby girls named Neva [rank: 705th]
  • 1954: 211 baby girls named Neva [rank: 627th]
  • 1953: 239 baby girls named Neva [rank: 568th]
  • 1952: 182 baby girls named Neva [rank: 658th]
  • 1951: 156 baby girls named Neva [rank: 700th]


Because of beauty queen Neva (pronounced NEE-va) Jane Langley, who was crowned Miss America 1953 in September of 1952.

Neva was a native Floridian, but represented the state of Georgia in the pageant because she was attending the Wesleyan Conservatory of Music (in Macon) at the time.

Speaking of music, Neva won the talent portion of the competition with a performance of the piano piece “Toccata” by Aram Khachaturian.

Because Miss America pageants weren’t televised until 1954, Neva’s first TV appearance didn’t happen until about a week later, on an episode of the panel show What’s My Line? [vid].

What are your thoughts on the baby name Neva?

P.S. Quite a few baby names were influenced by What’s My Line? in the 1950s and ’60s…


Image: Clipping from the Hanford Journal (12 Sept. 1952)

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