What gave the baby name Alverna a boost in 1926?

The characters Joe, Alverna, and Ralph from the movie "Mantrap" (1926)
Joe, Alverna, and Ralph from “Mantrap

According to the U.S. baby name data, the old-fashioned name Alverna saw its highest usage in 1926:

  • 1928: 29 baby girls named Alverna
  • 1927: 32 baby girls named Alverna
  • 1926: 44 baby girls named Alverna (peak)
  • 1925: 32 baby girls named Alverna
  • 1924: 34 baby girls named Alverna


My guess is Mantrap, a story by Sinclair Lewis.

One of the main characters, flirtatious Alverna Easter, is a former manicurist from Minneapolis now living with her new husband, Joe, in rural Western Canada. Dissatisfied with her life in the Canadian wilderness, she’s pleased when a New York City man named Ralph comes along.

The story was initially serialized in Collier’s magazine from February to May, 1926. Then it was published as a standalone book, in June. Finally, it was made into a silent film that came out in July.

In the movie, Alverna was played by actress Clara Bow (who went on to become the original “It Girl” upon the release of the movie It in early 1927).

The name Alverna, absent from the U.S. baby name data since the 1970s, appeared regularly in the data in the early 20th century. In fact, this usage was relatively strong in the state of Pennsylvania, which makes me wonder: Was Alverna was particularly popular among the Amish?

What are your thoughts on the name Alverna?

Sources: Mantrap (novel) – Wikipedia, Mantrap (1926 film) – Wikipedia, SSA
Image: Mantrap (Paramount Pictures)

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