What gave the baby name Baylee a boost in 1995?

Infant Baylee Almon and firefighter Chris Fields after the Oklahoma City bombing (Newsweek, May 1995)
Baylee Almon (and firefighter Chris Fields)

In 1995, the baby name Baylee — which had been slowly rising in usage for girls, but rarely given to boys — suddenly shot straight into the girls’ top 500, and debuted as a boy name:

Girls named BayleeBoys named Baylee
1997968 [rank: 296th]73
1996853 [rank: 331st]42
1995696 [rank: 379th]29*

Here’s a visual:

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

Most other versions of the name (Bailey, Bailee, Baylie, Bayley, Bailie, Baleigh, Bayleigh, Baily, Bayli, Baylea, Bailea, Bayle, and Bailley) also saw higher-than-expected usage in 1995, and the rare variants Balee and Bailye both debuted in the data that year.

What caused all this interest in the name Baylee?

A famous photograph — one of a firefighter carrying a baby’s body out of the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

To this day, the Oklahoma City bombing remains “the worst act of homegrown terrorism in the nation’s history.” The bombing killed 168 people — including 19 children — and injured hundreds more.

The baby in the photo, Baylee Almon, had celebrated her first birthday just one day earlier (on April 18).

Baylee’s life was cut very short, but the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo ensured that people all over the country knew her name. And, once they knew it, they began to use it.

Here’s what Baylee Almon’s little sister Bella Kok recently said about the phenomenon:

Over the years we’ve met people from different states that have named their kids after my sister. It’s really nice knowing people will always remember, that she won’t just be a face, and that she means something.

In fact, babies are still being named for Baylee Almon.

An Oklahoma woman named Kayla Dearman — who was born just two days after Baylee Almon, and who grew up feeling a connection to her — had a baby girl on the first day of 2014. In honor of Almon, she named her daughter Bailey.


Image: Clipping from the cover of Newsweek magazine (1 May 1995)

One thought on “What gave the baby name Baylee a boost in 1995?

  1. I knew the answer to this question immediately, before I even read your excellent article. As a mother, I could never forget Baylee in Oklahoma City, 1995. I remember thinking at the time that her name was rare. God bless the memory of this innocent and all whose lives were irrevocably changed that day, April 19, 1995.

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