Where did the baby name Janalene come from in 1940?

The fashion-inspired name Janalene was only fashionable enough to appear in the U.S. baby name data for a single year at the very beginning of the 1940s:

  • 1942: unlisted
  • 1941: unlisted
  • 1940: 6 baby girls named Janalene [debut]
  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted

The source for this one? An Indianapolis-based women’s clothing company called Janaléne:

It had been around since the 1920s (at least), but seems to have been most successful during the 1930s and 1940s.

Janaléne hired saleswomen in rural areas to sell clothes door-to-door. They did this with the help of the Janaléne clothing catalogue, which featured drawings of garments plus fabric samples.

The representatives were recruited via advertisements in newspapers and magazines — especially farming magazines. Here’s one such ad:

Get your dresses as a bonus and up to $18 a week. Show “Dated” Dresses. Experience unnecessary. No canvassing. Janalene, Dept. 845. Indianapolis, Ind.

Several similar companies of the era also utilized a direct-sales business model, but Janaléne differentiated itself by selling outdated styles specifically.

Though the name popped up in the baby name data in 1940, records suggest that most Janalenes were actually born during the 1930s. Here’s a Janalene born in West Virginia in 1931, for instance.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Janalene?


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