“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
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).
A while ago I found a book called “A Collection of Original Acrostics on Ladies’ Christian Names” that was published in Toronto in 1888.
I won’t post any of the poems, which are all pretty cheesy, but author George J. Howson does include an intriguing selection of names. He notes that he wrote acrostics for “all the most popular feminine christian names of the day, and many more that, while not in common use, are known to exist in actual life.”
Here’s the list:
Abigail Ada Adelaide Adelle Adeline Addie Aggie Agnes Alberta Alecia Aletha Alfretta Alice Allie Alma Almeda Almira Alta Althea Alvira Alzina Amanda Amelia Amy Ann Anna Annabell Annas Annette Angelia Angeline Annie Athaliah Athelia Augusta Aura Avis Barbara Beatrice Bell Bella Berdie Bertha Bertie Bessie Beulah Blanche Bridget Calista Carrie Carlotta Cassie Catherine Cecilia Cela Celia Celicia Celis Charlotte Chloe Christie Christine Clara Clarissa Cleanthe Clementina Constance Cora
Cordelia Corinne Cornelia Cynthia Cyrena Debbie Delia Della Diana Diantha Dinah Dollie Dora Dorcas Dorinda Dorothy Edith Edna Effie Ella Eleanor Eleanora Electa Ellen Elfie Eliza Elma Elsie Emma Emmeline Emily Ena Erma Estelle Esther Ethel Ethelind Ettie Eugenie Eula Eunice Euphemia Euretta Eva Evalina Eveline Evelyn Fannie Felicia Flora Florence Floss Frances Frank Gay Georgie Georgina Geraldine Gertie Gracie Hagar Hannah Harriet Hattie Helen Helena Henrietta Hulda
Ida Irene Isabel Isabella Isadora Jane Janet Janie Jeannette Jemima Jennet Jennie Jessie Jerusha Joanna Josephine Josie Julia Kate Kathleen Katie Keziah Lany Laura Leah Leila Lena Lera Lettie Levina Levinia Libbie Lida Lilian Lillie Lizzie Lola Lora Lorretta Lottie Lou Louisa Louise Lucinda Lucretia Lucy Luella Lula Lulu Lydia Mabel Madelaine Maggie Malvina Mamie Marcella Margaret Maria Marilla Marion Mary Marsena Martha Mattie Maud Maudie May Melinda
Mellissa Mercy Mertie Mildred Millie Mina Minerva Minnie Mintha Miranda Mollie Muriel Myra Myrtle Nancy Naomi Nellie Nettie Nina Nora Ollie Olive Olivia Ormanda Ophelia Pauline Pearl Phoebe Phyllis Priscilla Prudence Rachel Rebecca Rhoda Robena Rosa Rosabel Rosalie Rosalind Rosamond Rose Ruby Ruth Sabina Sadie Sally Samantha Sarah Selina Sophia Sophronia Stella Susanna Susie Sybil Teresa Theodocia Theresa Tillie Una Verna Victoria Vida Viola Violet Wilhelmina Winifred Zuba
Have any favorites?
Hulda/Huldah is one I like. It’s one of those names that I always see on old New England gravestones but never come across in real life. Wonder when that one will become stylish again.
BTW, has anyone ever seen a good name acrostic? Like, one that’s actually well-written and/or thought-provoking? Because I don’t think I ever have.