Chicago quadruplets: Sheena, Shawna, Sherry, Shannon

Dolores Harris holding quadruplet Sheena
Delores holding baby Sheena

On June 30, 1963, rare identical quadruplets were born to Delores and Bernard Harris of Chicago, Illinois.

The four baby girls were named:

  • Sheena Alice
  • Shawna Denyce
  • Sherry Julienne
  • Shannon Nellie

Delores gave them first names starting with “Sh” because she and Bernard already had a 15-month-old son named Shawn.

The first three middle names (Alice, Denyce, and Julienne) honored of staff members at Michael Reese Hospital, where the quadruplets were born. The fourth (Nellie) honored Delores’ mother.

The Harris quadruplets with mother Delores Harris and maternal grandmother Nellie Smith.
Delores and Nellie holding the quads

The quads made headlines across the country as soon as they were born. The Harris family was also featured in a long article (and over a dozen photographs) in the November 1963 issue* of Ebony magazine.

All this attention may have influenced the usage of their first names, though it’s hard to tell. Here’s the data:

Girls named
Girls named
Girls named
Girls named
†Peak usage

The name Sherry had just begun declining in usage in 1963, and Shawna and Shannon were already on the rise (though it does look like they rose a bit faster the year the quads were born…?). I think the strongest case can be made for Sheena, which saw a discernible uptick in 1963-1964.

What are your thoughts on these names? Which one do you like best?

*Incidentally, the same issue covered the late August civil rights demonstration during which Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.


Images: Clippings from Ebony magazine (Nov. 1963)

7 thoughts on “Chicago quadruplets: Sheena, Shawna, Sherry, Shannon

  1. I feel bad for Shawn and Shawna; that’s too close. I’m not really a fan of name themes (at least not very obvious themes) but I am sure it’s hard to resist when you have the rare opportunity of naming quadruplets. Except for the Shawn/Shawna irritation, I think they did fine. None of the names are terrible, and they’re all spelled in a common way.

  2. Sheena, Sherry, Shawna, and Shannon were my classmates. I am sorry to hear of her passing. They were all popular in school, but Sheena was the most popular. She was a great volleyball player.

    My condolences to the sisters and family c/81 CAVS

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