Where did the baby name Lajeune come from?

La Jeune Hundley on the cover of Sepia magazine (Sept. 1960)
La Jeune Hundley

The name Lajeune appeared in the U.S. baby name data for three years straight at the start of the 1960s:

  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: 5 baby girls named Lajeune
  • 1961: 7 baby girls named Lajeune
  • 1960: 17 baby girls named Lajeune
  • 1959: unlisted

The source?

African-American model La Jeune Hundley of Virginia. In May of 1960, she was voted “Miss Festival” at the Cannes Film Festival in France. During the last half of the year, she was featured heavily in African-American magazines and newspapers. For instance, she was on covers of Sepia in September, Ebony in October, and Jet in November.

Notably, she was the second African-American woman to win the title. The year before, Cecilia Cooper of New York City was the winner. At the time, black women were still not welcome in most American beauty pageants. (Clearly they could win equivalent titles overseas, though.)

In 1962, La Jeune was one of the woman pictured in Life magazine alongside a short article about black models becoming more visible in high fashion.

Her name may have been inspired on the French surname Le Jeune, which means “the young” or “the younger.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name La Jeune?

Source: “Negro Models–a Band of Beautiful Pioneers.” Life 29 Jun. 1962: 87.

Image: © 1960 Sepia

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