How popular is the baby name Ann in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Ann.

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Popularity of the baby name Ann

Posts that mention the name Ann

West Virginia family with 17 children (16 consecutive sons!)

The Jones family of West Virginia (in 1942)
The Jones family (in 1942)

From the late 1910s to the mid-1940s, Grover Cleveland Jones and Annie Grace Jones (née Buckland) of Peterstown, West Virginia, welcomed 17 children — 16 boys in a row, followed by a single girl.

Here are the names of all 17 siblings, from oldest to youngest:

  1. William Pinkney (born in 1917)
  2. Robert D. (b. 1919)
  3. Richard Buckland (b. 1920)
  4. Thomas L. (b. 1921)
  5. John (b. 1923)
  6. Paul Leslie (b. 1924)
  7. Woodrow Wilson (b. 1925)
  8. Tad (b. 1928)
  9. Willard Wilson (b. 1929)
  10. Pete (b. 1930)
  11. Rufus B. (b. 1932)
  12. Grover Cleveland, Jr. (b. 1935)
  13. Buck (b. 1936)
  14. Franklin D. (b. 1938)
  15. Leslie H.
  16. Giles Monroe (b. 1942)
  17. Charlotte Ann (b. 1946)

The odds of having 16 babies of the same gender in a row are approximately 1 in 65,500.

After boy #15, the family became relatively famous. They were invited to the White House, for instance, and had lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt (“because President Roosevelt was at a war meeting”).

Surprisingly, though, this wasn’t the only thing the Jones family was known for.

In 1928, dad Grover and oldest son William (whose nickname was “Punch”) were pitching horseshoes in the yard when they came across an unusual diamond-like stone. They put it in a cigar box in the tool shed, where it stayed for the next 14 years — right through the Great Depression.

At the start of World War II, Punch got a job at a nearby army ammunition plant. Working with carbon (one of the components of gunpowder), he was reminded of the diamond-like stone (as diamonds are a crystalline form of carbon) and decided to send the stone to a geology professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute for analysis.

The professor concluded that the stone was indeed a diamond — a 34.46-carat blue-white diamond that happened to be the largest alluvial diamond ever discovered in North America.

In 1944, Punch sent the diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it was put on display near the Hope Diamond.

Sadly, Punch was killed in action in Germany the very next year.

The diamond was returned to Jones family in 1968. It was stored in a safe deposit box until 1984, when it was sold at auction for an undisclosed amount.

P.S. Thank you to Destiny for letting me know about the Jones family a few months ago! (Destiny also gave us an update on the Schwandt family of Michigan, which currently consists of 14 consecutive boys followed by a single girl.)


Image: Clipping from the Detroit Times (27 Sept. 1942)

Babies named for the concept of states’ rights

American general States Rights Gist (1831-1864)
States Rights Gist

In U.S. politics, the idea of states’ rights emerged soon after the creation of the federal government in the 1780s. The first two political parties, in fact, were the Federalists, who advocated for a strong central government, and the Anti-Federalists, who advocated for states’ rights.

The first person to be named after the concept was States Rights Gist, who was born in South Carolina in September of 1831.

His name was no doubt inspired by the Nullification Crisis (1832-33), which ensued “when South Carolina nullified a federal tariff that favored Northern manufacturing over Southern agriculture.” (Note that many babies born during this time period were not named immediately after birth.)

Map of the United States in 1861
The United States in 1861

Several dozen other babies have been named “States Rights” (or something very similar) since then. Most of these babies were born in the southern U.S. during the mid-to-late 19th century. Some examples…

The baptism of States Rights Gist Finley — whose grandfather’s brother was the original States Rights Gist, and whose father was South Carolina politician David E. Finley — was mentioned in a local newspaper:

States Rights Gist Finley (baptism)

So…what became of the original States Rights Gist?

He served as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and was killed at the Battle of Franklin in late 1864.

Intriguingly, one of his distant relatives (his father’s second cousin) happened to be named States Gist (b. 1787) — no middle name. Was he named for states’ rights? Was he named for the young United States? We’ll never know. But we do know that he had a half-brother named Independent (b. 1779) and a cousin named Federal Ann Bonaparte (b. 1797).


Images: Adapted from States Rights Gist; clipping from the Yorkville Enquirer (1 Apr. 1899)
Map: Adapted from The United States in 1861 (LOC)

Babies named for Fay Wray

Actress Fay Wray in the movie "King Kong" (1933)
Fay Wray in “King Kong

Canadian-American actress Fay Wray appeared in films regularly from the 1920s to the 1950s. Her most memorable role was that of Ann Darrow, the object of King Kong’s affection in the now-classic monster movie King Kong (1933).

Dozens of U.S. baby girls have been named “Fay Wray” over the years, and it’s likely that those born during Wray’s career — particularly the early part of her career — were named with her in mind. Some examples…

Fay Wray was born Vina Fay Wray in Alberta, Canada, in 1907. She said in her autobiography:

That “Fay” is almost as a punctuation mark to the longer, fancier names my mother favored. She had been disappointed not to have had a boy, so my father took the opportunity to name me after both his wife and a former lady friend.

Because she never used Vina (the name she shared with her mother), she was known by the self-rhyming name Fay Wray throughout her life.

In her 80s, she observed, “People always ask me if Fay Wray is really my name.”


Image: Screenshot of King Kong

What gave the baby name Cyndi a boost in the 1980s?

Cyndi Lauper's debut album "She's So Unusual" (1983)
Cyndi Lauper album

The name Cyndi saw a steep rise in usage during the second half of the 1950s, thanks to a song featuring the name Cindy.

It saw another increase in the mid-1980s — though this second spike didn’t last as long, or reach as high. Here are the numbers, followed by the graph:

  • 1986: 58 baby girls named Cyndi
  • 1985: 88 baby girls named Cyndi
  • 1984: 61 baby girls named Cyndi
  • 1983: 28 baby girls named Cyndi
  • 1982: 25 baby girls named Cyndi
Graph of the usage of the baby name Cyndi in the U.S. since 1880
Usage of the baby name Cyndi

What caused the smaller spike?

Music again — but this time it was a singer, not a song.

Eclectic pop star Cyndi Lauper released her debut album, She’s So Unusual, in October of 1983.

The album produced six singles, four of which became top-5 hits on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart during 1984:

  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (reached #2 in March)
  • “Time After Time” (#1 in June)
  • “She Bop” (#3 in September)
  • “All Through the Night” (#5 in December)

Also in 1984, the video for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (below) won the inaugural MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.

Cyndi Lauper was born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper in 1953 — several years before the names Cynthia and Cindy reached peak trendiness.

At the age of eighteen, she started going by “Cyndi” instead of “Cindy” at the suggestion of a friend with whom she’d been hitchhiking:

So Richie and I headed to Massachusetts, and we would set up camp and sleep in the woods along the way. We were sitting by the fire one time and he said to me, “You know what? You shouldn’t spell your name ‘Cindy,’ you should spell it C-Y-N-D-I.” So I did.

What are your thoughts on the name Cyndi? Which spelling do you prefer?