How popular is the baby name Dorothy in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Dorothy.

The graph will take a few moments to load. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take 9 months!) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.


Popularity of the Baby Name Dorothy


Posts that Mention the Name Dorothy

Baby name story: Poppet

Portrait of Poppet (cropped), painted circa 1935 by Augustus John.
Poppet John

Welsh painter Augustus John and his second wife, Dorothy (called “Dorelia”), welcomed a daughter in 1912.

They’d planned to name the baby Elizabeth Anne, but they ended up calling her Poppet. (The British English term poppet is used to refer to “a person, especially a child, that you like or love.”)

Here’s how Poppet’s older bother Romilly (b. 1906) recalled the naming process:

I remember a grand discussion in the walled-in summer-house about what she should be called — a discussion which has been going on ever since. Elizabeth Anne was the provisional choice on that occasion, but it satisfied nobody, and the baby was finally registered as ‘one female child’, pending the discovery of the ideal name. Meanwhile [half-brother] Caspar, contemplating her one day, chanced to remark: ‘What a little poppet it is!’ — and Poppet she was called from that day forward. A real name was still intended to be found for her, but we had not reckoned with the force of habit, and, in spite of intermittent consultation, and at least one attempt to revert to the original suggestion, Anne, she has continued [to be called] Poppet to this day.

I can’t find Poppet’s birth registration online, but “Poppet” is indeed the name used legally in the Marriage Registration Index (three times: 1931, 1940, and 1952) and the the Death Registration Index (1997).

Poppet’s third and final marriage was to dutch artist Willem Pol, making fashion model Talitha Pol her step-daughter. After Talitha’s death in 1971, Poppet and Willem raised Talita’s son Tara at their home in the south of France.

Sources:

P.S. Caspar John (b. 1903) ended up becoming the head of the Royal Navy in the early 1960s.

Babies named for Alla Nazimova

Actress Alla Nazimova in the movie "A Doll's House" (1922).
Alla Nazimova in “A Doll’s House

Russian-American silent film actress Alla Nazimova (pronounced nah-ZEE-moh-vah) was most popular in the U.S. in the late 1910s and early 1920s.

After becoming a theater star in Russia in the early 1900s, she moved to New York and made her Broadway debut in 1906. Then she successfully transitioned from stage to screen:

In the 1910s Nazimova became one of the first Broadway actresses to match and even surpass her stage success when she became a screen star, reportedly drawing the highest salary in Hollywood from Metro, and creating the type of European exotic with which Pola Negri and, in a different way, Garbo and Deitrich would later become identified.

She was often credited simply as “Nazimova.” Her film company, founded in 1917, was also named Nazimova:

"A Nazimova Production"

The name Nazimova has never surfaced in the U.S. baby name data, but I’ve found several dozen U.S. females named Nazimova. Most were born around the time the actress was at the height of her fame. Some examples…

  • Nazimova Ratleff (née Bordenave), b. 1917 in Louisiana
  • Nazimova Marvine Gatwood (née Edwards), b. 1919 in Ohio
  • Nazimova McKinley (née Hastings), b. 1920 in Indiana
  • Nazimova Goodale (née Hatcher), b. 1920 in Iowa
  • Nazimova Smith, b. circa 1920 in Louisiana
  • Nazimova Davis (née Ebright), b. circa 1920 in Louisiana
  • Nazimova Williams (née Tolbert), b. 1921 in Mississippi
  • Nazimova Dean (née Moore), b. 1921 in Oklahoma
  • Nazimova Sweeney (née Brunson), b. 1921 in Indiana
  • Nazimova Perry, b. 1922 in Pennsylvania
  • Dorothy Nazimova Shaffer (née Montgomery), b. 1922 in Texas
  • Nazimova Regina Fleming (née Jeanfreau), b. 1922 in Louisiana
  • Nazimova Cathrine Naleilehua Katz, b. 1922 in Hawaii
  • Nazimova Brunious (née Santiago), b. 1923 in Louisiana
  • Nazimova Lee (née Holland), b. 1923 in Georgia
  • Nazimova Mae Niedermeyer (née Beckett), b. 1924 in Iowa
  • Nazimova Anderson, b. 1925 in Texas

Alla Nazimova was born in Yalta in the late 1870s. Her birth name was Mariam Edez Adelaida “Alla” Leventon. Her stage surname, Nazimova, is said to have been inspired by the character Nadezhda Nazimova from a Russian novel called Children of the Streets.

What are your thoughts on Nazimova as a given name?

P.S. Nazimova’s goddaughter, Anne Frances “Nancy” Robbins, also became an actress — under the name Nancy Davis. Nancy married fellow actor Ronald Reagan in 1952, and went on to serve as First Lady of the United States during most of the 1980s.

Sources:

Name quotes #104: Che, Shanaya, Bluzette

quotation marks

Time for the latest batch of name quotes!

From an interview with Saturday Night Live comedian Michael Che:

I was named after Che Guevara. My name is Michael Che Campbell. My dad is a huge history buff, and he named me after Che Guevara cause he loved Che Guevera for whatever reason. Which is a very polarizing figure, because when I tell people I was named after Che, they’re either like, “Oh, wow that’s cool,” or they’re like, “You know, Che killed people.” I’m like, I didn’t pick my name.

From Sanjana Ramachandran’s recent essay “The Namesakes“:

Shanaya Patel’s story, in more ways than one, encapsulated an India opening up to the world. In March 2000, Shanaya’s parents were at a café in Vadodara, Gujarat, when some Shania Twain tunes came on: she was also the artist who had been playing when her father saw her mother for the first time, “during their whole arranged-marriage-thing.” Finally, after eight months of “baby” and “munna,” Shanaya’s parents had found a name for her.

But “to make it different,” Shanaya’s parents changed the spelling of her name slightly. “Before me, all my cousins were named from this or that religious book,” she said. “When my parents didn’t want to go down that road, the elders were all ‘How can you do this!’—but my parents fought for it. There was a small controversy in the family.”

(Her essay also inspired me to write this post about the name Sanjana!)

About the “naming” of a Native American man who was discovered in California in 1911, from a 1996 UC Berkeley news release:

Under pressure from reporters who wanted to know the stranger’s name, [anthropologist] Alfred Kroeber called him “Ishi,” which means “man” in Yana. Ishi never uttered his real name.

“A California Indian almost never speaks his own name,” wrote Kroeber’s wife, “using it but rarely with those who already know it, and he would never tell it in reply to a direct question.”

About street names in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, from the book Names of New York (2021) by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro:

Clymer, Ellery, Hart; Harrison, Hooper, Heyward, Hewes; Ross, Rush, Rutledge, Penn — they’re all names belonging to one or another of those fifty-six men who scrawled their letters at the Declaration [of Independence]’s base. So are Taylor and Thornton, Wythe and Whipple.

[…]

[Keap Street’s] name does not match that of one of the Declaration’s signers, but it tries to: “Keap” is apparently a misrendering of the surname of the last man to leave his mark on it: Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania, whose name’s illegibility was perhaps due to his having rather less space to scrawl it by the time the document reached him than John Hancock did.

From a 2008 CNN article about the pros and cons of unusual names:

“At times, for the sake of avoiding an uncomfortable conversation or throwing someone off guard, I answer to the names of ‘Mary’ or ‘Kelly’,” says Bluzette Martin of West Allis, Wisconsin. At restaurants, “the thought of putting an employee through the pain of guessing how to spell and pronounce ‘Bluzette’ just isn’t worth it to me.”

Martin was named after “Bluzette,” an up-tempo jazz waltz written by Jean “Toots” Thielemans. Despite her daily problems with this name, it certainly has its perks, like when she met Thielemans in 1987 at a club in Los Angeles. “When I met [him], he thanked my mother,” she says.

(Here’s “Bluesette” (vid) by Thielemans, who was Belgian.)

From a 1942 item in Time magazine about ‘Roberto’ being used as a fascist greeting:

Last week the authorities ordered 18 Italian-Americans excluded from the San Francisco military area as dangerous to security — the first such action against white citizens. The wonder was that it was not done earlier: everybody heard about the goings on in the North Beach Italian colony. Fascists there used to say RoBerTo as a greeting — Ro for Rome, Ber for Berlin, To for Tokyo. Italy sent teachers, books and medals for the Italian schools. Mussolini won a popularity contest hands down over Franklin Roosevelt.

From a news release about the 2021 baby names at St. Luke’s in Duluth, Minnesota:

Parents also got creative with their children’s names, naming tiny new Apollos, Elfriedas, Tillmans and Winnifreds. Other great names included everything from Atlas to Ziibi and some precious little gems like Amethyst and Ruby.

From a 2014 article in Vogue about 1950s fashion model Dovima:

Dovima, born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba, would have been 87 today. She hailed from Jackson Heights, Queens, and was purportedly discovered in 1949 when she strolled out of an Automat near the Vogue offices. The name Dovima wasn’t thought up by a canny publicist, if was concocted by Dorothy herself, invented for an imaginary playmate during a lonely childhood when she was bedridden with rheumatic fever.

(Dovima was the first single-name fashion model. She did legally change her name from Dorothy to Dovima at some point, according to the records, and a handful of baby girls born in the late ’50s were named after her, e.g., Dovima Marie Ayers, b. 1959, VT.)

P.S. “Louvima” is another three-in-one name I’ve blogged about…

Baby name story: James Nicholas Gregory

On November 16, 1959, the home of Vincent and Josephine Jennings of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was consumed by fire.

Vincent, Josephine and their five daughters escaped without injury, but the family’s three sons — James (age 8), Nicholas (7), and Gregory (5) — did not survive.

On March 28, 1960, Mrs. Jennings gave birth to her ninth and last baby — a boy.

He was named James Nicholas Gregory Jennings.

(The Jennings’ daughters were named Mary, Connie, Dorothy, Patty, and Rosie.)

Sources:

  • “New Baby Named for Three Lost in Fire.” Warren Times-Mirror 29 Mar. 1960: 8.
  • Josephine Jennings Obituary (orig. pub. in the East Valley Tribune)
  • “Police Remove Their Hats.” East Liverpool Review 16 Nov. 1959: 1.

Famous female names from 1916

Over at The Public Domain Review, I found a collection of 51 novelty playing cards — several incomplete decks, mixed together — from 1916 that feature the images and names of popular movie actresses from that era.

Below are all the first names from those cards, plus where those names happened to rank in the 1916 baby name data. (Two-thirds of them were in the top 100, and over 95% fell inside the top 1,000.)

  • Anita (ranked 151st in 1916)
  • Anna (7th)
  • Beatriz (1,281st)
  • Bessie (56th)
  • Blanche (89th)
  • Clara (39th)
  • Cleo (180th)
  • Constance (213th)
  • Dolores (146th)
  • Dorothy (3rd)
  • Edith (28th)
  • Ella (81st)
  • Ethel (25th)
  • Fannie (116th)
  • Florence (14th)
  • Geraldine (94th)
  • Gertrude (35th)
  • Grace (26th)
  • Helen (2nd)
  • Julia (46th)
  • June (86th)
  • Kate (346th)
  • Kathlyn (731st)
  • Lenore (340th)
  • Lillian (16th)
  • Louise (18th)
  • Mabel (65th)
  • Marguerite (78th)
  • Mary (1st)
  • May (190th)
  • Mildred (6th)
  • Myrtle (58th)
  • Nellie (61st)
  • Norma (111th)
  • Olive (132nd)
  • Ormi (4,982nd)
  • Pauline (33rd)
  • Pearl (57th)
  • Ruth (5th)
  • Viola (59th)
  • Violet (83rd)
  • Vivian (77th)
  • Wanda (138th)

Which of the names above do you like best?

Source: Moriarty Playing Cards (1916) – The Public Domain Review