Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.
Let’s start with some stats:
1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.
And now, on to the names!
A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:
Top baby girl names
Top baby boy names
1. Mary 2. Catherine 3. Sarah 4. Ellen 5. Margaret
1. John 2. William 3. James 4. Charles 5. George
All Girl Names
Mary, 149 baby girls
Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
Time for this month’s batch of name-related quotes!
From the 2008 novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (which is narrated by character Katniss Everdeen):
The girl with the arrows, Glimmer I hear someone call her — ugh, the names the people in District 1 give their children are so ridiculous — anyway, Glimmer scales the tree until the branches begin to crack under her feet and then has the good sense to stop.
As Catholicism’s hold has eased, American pop culture has stepped in, filling classrooms with Kevins, Jordans and Dylans. Such names, says the study, have become a class marker. They are also popular in regions which support Marine Le Pen, the populist defender of French cultural tradition. Her campaign for the upcoming European elections is headed by a 23-year-old called Jordan.
In a country that bans ethnic or religious census data, names can also serve as a proxy. The number of baby boys named Mohamed has grown sixfold since 1960. The persistence of such names, say some on the nationalist fringe, reflects an integration problem. Ms. Le Pen has argued that naturalised French citizens should adopt a name more adapted to national culture. Hapsatou Sy, a French presenter, understandably quit a TV show after a commentator told her that her name was “an insult to France”, and that her mother should have named her Corinne.
But now researchers have found that picking a distinctive monicker is becoming harder and harder with greater media access, improved global communications and rising immigration increasing people’s exposure to different names and also ensuring they become common more quickly.
“The speed with which modern name choices fall in and out of favour reflects their increased exposure and people’s ongoing desire for distinctiveness.”
Prince George Washington was really Prince Wichaichan, the son of the Second King of Siam [Pinklao, younger brother of Mongkut]. […] Wichaichan’s unusual nickname was the result of his father’s commitment to “modernize” Siam by studying and deliberately emulating Western culture. […] Pinklao wished to communicate that he was a progressive person who was drawn to modern American culture, while never abandoning his fundamental commitment to Siam’s absolute monarchy.
(The post also noted that Anna Leonowens, in her memoir The English Governess at the Siamese Court — the inspiration behind The King and I, which made a star out of Yul Brynner — claimed the prince’s nickname was given to him by an American missionary.)
These websites not only misguide with wrong meanings but also feature “Sanskrit names” that are not from Sanskrit at all.
‘Haroon’ is one such name. Websites, including the popular Prokerala.com that ranks among the top 8,000 in the world, tells us it means ‘hope’ in Sanskrit. However, ‘Haroon’ is an Arabic name. Hugely popular among Muslims, it was also the name of one of the Khalifas (Caliphs).
Similarly, these websites also erroneously trace modern names such as Kian, Rehan and Miran to Sanskrit.
From the book Becoming Something: The Story of Canada Lee (2004) by Mona Z. Smith:
Canada Lee was born in New York City on March 3, 1907, and christened with the mellifluous if somewhat daunting name of Leonard Lionel Cornelius Canegata.
The first time the leather-lunged [fight announcer Joe] Humphries got ready to introduce Lee, he looked down at his notes and saw a peculiar name: “Canegata, Lee.” Flummoxed by those alien syllables, Humphries tossed away the card with a snort and introduced the young fighter as “Canada Lee.”
Everybody liked the transmogrification, including Lee, and it stuck.
Dillon…was not named after a prospector named Tom Dillon who got lost in the woods, as has been a common oral tradition. Rather, the town was named after Sidney Dillon, a powerful railroad executive who became president of the Union Pacific railroad four months before the town was established. The entire point of naming the town Dillon was to somehow appeal to Sidney Dillon’s vanity and persuade him to build a railroad through the town.
But as it turned out, the railroad didn’t wind up going through Dillon or winding along the Snake River. Instead, it went through Tenmile Canyon and the town of Frisco — also named to flatter a railroad company, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co., in a bid to get them to build their next line through town.
Kaira, Shyra, Akira, Kia, Tia, Sia. Shanaya. These are Bollywood’s cool new names, broadly classified into the “ya” or “ra” nomenclature. The Poojas, Nishas, Anjalis and Nehas of the 1990s are déclassé. These new names carry an unmistakable aspiration to be global.They are unrooted to place, community or any kind of identity except class. They are almost never longer than three syllables and easy to pronounce. They float on coolness and lightness. An ex-colleague memorably christened them “First-World Yoga Names—FWYN”.
“138” boy names: Thelonious, Toussaint, Marcoantonio, Zephyrus, Oluwaferanmi
3 via 147
The following baby names add up to 147, which reduces to three (1+4+7=12; 1+2=3).
“147” girl names: Autumnrose, Tirenioluwa
“147” boy names: Khristopher, Aristotelis
3 via 156
The boy name Ifeanyichukwu adds up to 156, which reduces to three (1+5+6=12; 1+2=3).
3 via 165
The unisex name Oluwatamilore adds up to 165, which reduces to three (1+6+5=12; 1+2=3).
What Does “3” Mean?
First, we’ll look at the significance assigned to “3” by two different numerological sources. Second, and more importantly, ask yourself if “3” or any of the intermediate numbers above have any special significance to you.
“3” (the triad) according to the Pythagoreans:
“The triad has a special beauty and fairness beyond all numbers”
“Anything in Nature which has process has three boundaries (beginning, peak and end – that is, its limits and its middle), and two intervals (that is, increase and decrease), with the consequence that the nature of the dyad and ‘either’ manifests in the triad by means of its limits.”
“They call it ‘friendship’ and ‘peace,’ and further ‘harmony’ and ‘unanimity’: for these are all cohesive and unificatory of opposites and dissimilars. Hence they also call it ‘marriage.'”
“The triad is called ‘prudence’ and ‘wisdom’ – that is, when people act correctly as regards the present, look ahead to the future, and gain experience from what has already happened in the past: so wisdom surveys the three parts of time, and consequently knowledge falls under the triad.”
“We use the triad also for the manifestation of plurality, and say ‘thrice ten thousand’ when we mean ‘many times many,’ and ‘thrice blessed.'”
“3” according to Edgar Cayce:
“Three is the strength of one with the weakness of two” (reading 261-15).
‘Three – again a combination of one and two; this making for strength, making for – in division – that ability of two against one, or one against two. In this strength is seen, as in the Godhead, and is as a greater strength in the whole of combinations” (reading 5751-1).
Does “3” — or do any of the other numbers above (e.g., 21, 57, 66, 111) — have any special significance to you?
Think about your own preferences and personal experiences: lucky numbers, birth dates, music, sports, and so on. Maybe you’re fascinated by the history of old Route 66, for example.
Also think about associations you may have picked up from your culture, your religion, or society in general.
If you have any interesting insights about the number 3, or any of the other numbers above, please leave a comment!
Source: Theologumena Arithmeticae, attributed to Iamblichus (c.250-c.330).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).