How popular is the baby name Harold 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 Harold.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Harold


Posts that Mention the Name Harold

Baby born in the Farallon Islands, named Farallon

Houses on Southeast Farallon Island

Located 28 miles off the coast of California, the Farallon Islands (or “Farallones”) are “211 acres of rocky islets that are home to 28% of California’s sea birds.” Their name — assigned by Spanish explorers during the early 1600s — comes from the Spanish word farallón, meaning “sea cliff” or “sea stack.”

They islands have always been sparsely populated, but a lighthouse was built on Southeast Farallon in 1855 and a series of lighthouse keepers (four at a time) lived on that particular island — often with their families — from the 1850s until the 1940s.

The first of several babies born on the island during that time period was the daughter of keeper Cyrus J. Cain and his wife Mary Ellen. The baby girl arrived in April 8, 1898, and was named Farallon Wilhelmina Cain, after her birthplace.

(She was the seventh of nine children. The sibling names I know of are Catherine, George, Cecil, Harold, Charley, and Loretta.)

Sources:

Image: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

[Related posts: Ida Lewis, Avalon]

What gave the baby name Harolyn a boost in 1945?

Harolyn, 1945

The baby name Harolyn saw peak usage in the U.S. in 1945:

  • 1947: 28 baby girls named Harolyn
  • 1946: 19 baby girls named Harolyn
  • 1945: 45 baby girls named Harolyn
    • 13 born in New York
    • 6 born in Pennsylvania
  • 1944: 12 baby girls named Harolyn
  • 1943: 13 baby girls named Harolyn

Why?

Because of a pint-sized beauty queen from New Jersey named Harolyn Cheryl Meyer.

It all started the year before, in May of 1944, when the men aboard the USS New Jersey (at that time involved in WWII and stationed near the Philippines) decided to hold a beauty contest. The crew “wrote to the New Jersey state Chamber of Commerce proposing a pinup contest among girls from the state whose pictures would be posted on the battleship’s bulletin boards.”

On May 17th, the request was published in the Newark Evening News. The crew soon ended up with about 75 entrants. All of them were young women…except for one. The odd one out was a smiling 5-month-old baby in her birthday suit.

That was baby Harolyn Meyer, born in December of 1943. The photo had been taken for her father, Army Air Forces pilot Lieutenant Harold Meyer, who hadn’t yet seen her. Harold’s Flying Fortress had recently been shot down over Europe, and he was being held as a prisoner of war in Germany.

The photo was submitted by Harolyn’s mother’s mother, who thought entering the baby’s picture in a pin-up contest as a joke would lift her daughter’s spirits.

The crew of the USS New Jersey took a vote in November, and, surprisingly, Harolyn won the contest with 555 out of 1,376 votes. One crewmember later suggested that “his fellow seamen may have been captivated by the photograph of the infant because she reminded them of home and family.”

In December, Mrs. Meyer was notified by letter that Harolyn had become the ship’s official pin-up girl. The win was also announced in the papers.

More importantly, though, an updated photo of Harolyn — now 15 months old — ran on the front pages of various newspapers starting in March of 1945. (The photo appeared as late as July in some papers.) It showed Harolyn and her mother meeting with New Jersey governor Walter E. Edge, who was presenting Harolyn with $3,200 in War Bonds “through donations by the crew of the USS New Jersey for use in obtaining her future education.”

What are your thoughts on the baby name Harolyn?

Sources:

  • Journal Page 7b – Battleship USS New Jersey BB-62
  • “Bonds for Pin-up Baby.” Record [Hackensack, New Jersey] 16 Mar. 1945: 1.
  • “Pinup Baby Given War Bonds” Mount Dora Topic 17 May 1945: 1.
  • “Pin-up Girl Poses in Birthday Suit.” News-Press [Fort Myers, FL] 14 Dec. 1944: 2.

P.S. A secondary influence on this name may have been Harolyn (b. 1943), the daughter of Dorothy Dandridge and Harold Nicholas.

P.P.S. Harolyn’s middle name, Cheryl, was very on-trend for the mid-1940s.

Fastest-rising U.S. baby names (absolute increase), 1881 to today

arrow, increase

Having déjà vu?

A couple of months ago, we looked at a long, year-by-year list of the top baby name rises. A month after that, we saw the corresponding list of top drops.

On that second post, Frank B. left a comment in which he asked about absolute rises and drops — because the lists only covered relative movement within the data. So I thought two more posts were in order: top raw-number rises, and top raw-number drops.

We’ll start with the rises again. Just keep in mind that the SSA numbers don’t become very accurate until the mid-to-late 20th century, so many of the numbers below don’t quite reflect reality.

Here’s the format: Girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the numbers represent single-year rises in usage. From 1880 to 1881, for instance, the usage of the girl name Ethel increased by 155 babies and the usage of the boy name Chester increased by 106 babies.

  • 1881: Ethel, +155; Chester, +106
  • 1882: Mary, +1,229; John, +788
  • 1883: Bertha, +173; Grover, +71
  • 1884: Mary, +1,205; Grover, +675
  • 1885: Helen, +148; Willie, +36
  • 1886: Mary, +762; John, +270
  • 1887: Ethel, +208; Harold, +55
  • 1888: Mary, +1,866; William, +1,235
  • 1889: Ruth, +223; Russell, +52
  • 1890: Mary, +430; Charlie, +112
  • 1891: Ruth, +662; Theodore & Herbert, +34 (tie)
  • 1892: Mary, +1,471; John, +1,358
  • 1893: Esther, +558; Claude, +41
  • 1894: Marie, +437; John, +189
  • 1895: Anna, +385; James, +225
  • 1896: Helen, +369; William, +470
  • 1897: Thelma, +159; Dewey, +95
  • 1898: Mary, +994; Dewey, +957
  • 1899: Mildred, +188; Kenneth, +24
  • 1900: Mary, +3536; John, +2,840
  • 1901: Retha, +25; Theodore, +21
  • 1902: Mary, +1,350; John, +1,009
  • 1903: Dorothy, +371; Jack, +88
  • 1904: Mary, +687; John, +499
  • 1905: Mary, +1,105; Charles, +201
  • 1906: Alice, +581; Robert, +225
  • 1907: Mary, +1,211; James, +799
  • 1908: Mary, +1,085; William, +622
  • 1909: Helen, +813; James, +582
  • 1910: Mary, +3,589; John, +1,860
  • 1911: Dorothy, +1,551; John, +1,995
  • 1912: Mary, +7,910; John, +11,140
  • 1913: Mary, +4,342; John, +4,738
  • 1914: Mary, +8,705; John, +8,621
  • 1915: Mary, +12,842; John, +9,634
  • 1916: Mary, +3,246; Robert, +3,004
  • 1917: Mary, +2,847; Robert, +3,474
  • 1918: Dorothy, +3,179; Robert, +5,409
  • 1919: Betty, +1,304; Willie, +409
  • 1920: Mary, +5,141; Robert, +7,656
  • 1921: Betty, +3,618; Robert, +4,096
  • 1922: Betty, +3,259; Richard, +1,165
  • 1923: Betty, +5,097; Robert, +2,300
  • 1924: Betty, +4,605; Robert, +4,685
  • 1925: Gloria, +2,835; Richard, +2,034
  • 1926: Barbara, +1,917; Richard, +1,864
  • 1927: Mary, +2,787; Donald, +2,935
  • 1928: Dolores, +2,843; Herbert, +3,049
  • 1929: Joan, +3,806; Donald, +1,456
  • 1930: Joan, +3,812; Richard, +2,602
  • 1931: Joan, +3,633; Ronald, +1,086
  • 1932: Barbara, +4,514; Ronald, +4,411
  • 1933: Carol, +1,650; Franklin, +2,603
  • 1934: Shirley, +8,523; James, +3,124
  • 1935: Shirley, +19,514; David, +1,664
  • 1936: Carol, +2,785; Robert, +1,968

(From the SSA: “Note that many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.”)

  • 1937: Barbara, +3,230; David, +3,493
  • 1938: Judith, +4,729; James, +2,526
  • 1939: Judith, +5,748; David, +2,366
  • 1940: Linda, +7,657; John, +3,739
  • 1941: Linda, +5,355; James, +4,262
  • 1942: Linda, +7,882; James, +10,450
  • 1943: Linda, +6,831; James, +3,072
  • 1944: Cheryl, +5,092; Gary, +2,192
  • 1945: Linda, +3,065; Michael, +3,179
  • 1946: Linda, +11,239; Robert, +14,194
  • 1947: Linda, +46,978; David, +11,381
  • 1948: Deborah, +5,409; Mark, +2,503
  • 1949: Deborah, +7,953; Michael, +7,417
  • 1950: Deborah, +9,877; Michael, +5,220
  • 1951: Deborah, +12,954; Michael, +7,531
  • 1952: Debra, +9,782; David, +7,043
  • 1953: Debra, +10,015; Michael, +5,172
  • 1954: Debra, +9,029; Mark, +6,899
  • 1955: Debra, +4,653; David, +6,653
  • 1956: Karen, +6,843; Mark, +6,596
  • 1957: Cindy, +10,268; Mark, +4,020
  • 1958: Tammy, +5,618; Timothy, +4,011
  • 1959: Donna, +9,517; Mark, +4,260
  • 1960: Lisa, +8,013; Jeffrey, +2,564
  • 1961: Lisa, +8,983; Todd, +4,005
  • 1962: Lisa, +3,394; Scott, +6,790
  • 1963: Lisa, +9,951; Paul, +2,884
  • 1964: Dawn, +4,196; John, +3,900
  • 1965: Lisa, +5,990; Rodney, +5,013
  • 1966: Michelle, +10,937; Christopher, +3,228
  • 1967: Melissa, +4,114; Matthew, +2,778
  • 1968: Jennifer, +8,612; Matthew, +2,253
  • 1969: Jennifer, +6,858; Jason, +9,346
  • 1970: Jennifer, +12,455; Jason, +10,788
  • 1971: Jennifer, +10,626; Jason, +6,897
  • 1972: Jennifer, +6,820; Christopher, +3,954
  • 1973: Heather, +3,032; Jason, +9,236
  • 1974: Heather, +3,836; Jason, +8,082
  • 1975: Amanda, +5,177; Joshua, +2,968
  • 1976: Jamie, +8,306; Jeremy, +4,940
  • 1977: Jessica, +6,467; Joshua, +5,205
  • 1978: Crystal, +2,865; Nicholas, +10,274
  • 1979: Amanda, +11,406; Joshua, +5,921
  • 1980: Tiffany, +6,614; Justin, +9,355
  • 1981: Jessica, +8,602; Brandon, +6,048
  • 1982: Ashley, +5,971; Christopher, +8,995
  • 1983: Ashley, +18,435; Kyle, +4,161
  • 1984: Ashley, +5,478; Joshua, +3,551
  • 1985: Ashley, +8,242; Andrew, +4,252
  • 1986: Whitney, +5,699; Andrew, +3,682
  • 1987: Kayla, +5,917; Justin, +4,874
  • 1988: Brittany, +4,594; Justin, +3,545
  • 1989: Brittany, +10,969; Ethan, +3,162
  • 1990: Taylor, +3,188; Jordan, +5,257
  • 1991: Shelby, +6,703; Dylan, +5,349
  • 1992: Taylor, +4,696; Dylan, +5,298
  • 1993: Taylor, +6,318; Austin, +6,125
  • 1994: Alexis, +2,208; Austin, +5,616
  • 1995: Madison, +3,516; Austin, +2,714
  • 1996: Madison, +3,632; Noah, +3,360
  • 1997: Hannah, +1,993; Jacob, +2,237
  • 1998: Emma, +2,700; Noah, +4,137
  • 1999: Grace, +3,460; Seth, +1,718
  • 2000: Trinity, +2,803; Ethan, +3,783
  • 2001: Isabella, +2,587; Logan, +2,973
  • 2002: Isabella, +3,334; Ethan, +4,143
  • 2003: Emma, +6,170; Aidan, +3,108
  • 2004: Ava, +2,364; Aiden, +1,472
  • 2005: Ava, +4,959; Landon, +2,070
  • 2006: Addison, +4,595; Aiden, +2,492
  • 2007: Addison, +4,328; Jayden, +5,596
  • 2008: Peyton, +1,954; Aiden, +2,472
  • 2009: Isabella, +3,667; Liam, +2,582
  • 2010: Sophia, +3,680; Mason, +4,139
  • 2011: Harper, +2,032; Mason, +4,650
  • 2012: Harper, +2,496; Liam, +3,286
  • 2013: Sadie, +2,031; Jase, +3,410
  • 2014: Olivia, +1,308; Oliver, +2,116
  • 2015: Alexa, +1,786; Oliver, +2,181
  • 2016: Adeline, +1,700; Mateo, +1,516
  • 2017: Luna, +1,657; Logan, +2,748
  • 2018: Mila, +2,162; Theodore, +1,070
  • 2019: Alaia, +1,072; Brooks, +1,114
  • 2020: Gianna, +4,414; Kobe, +998
  • 2021: Isla, +950; Luca, +2,031

Some of these names I’ve written about already, and others I plan to write about in the future. If you can give explanations for any of those others right now, though, feel free! Just leave a comment…

Update, 4/22: Here are the corresponding drops

What would you name the catfish-riding boy?

little boy, large catfish, old photo, texas, 1940s

This might be my favorite photo on the entire internet.

The shot, which depicts a playful little Texas boy pretending to ride a dead catfish on someone’s front porch, was taken by photographer Neal Douglass in April of 1941.

The Portal to Texas History calls it “Mrs. Bill Wright; Boy Riding Catfish.” So I’m guessing that “Mrs. Bill Wright” was the boy’s mother. But there’s no other identifying information, so I don’t know the boy’s name, nor do I have any way of tracking it down.

So let’s turn this into a name game!

First, let’s suppose our little catfish-rider was not named “Bill” (or “William,” or “Willie,” etc.) after his father. With that rule in place, here are the questions:

  • What do you think Mrs. Bill Wright named her son?
  • What would you have named him?

Just for reference, popular names for Texas newborns in the late ’30s included:

Albert
Arthur
Carl/Charles
Clarence
Daniel
David
Don/Donald
Edward/Eddie
Ernest
Frank
Fred
Gary
Gene/Eugene
George
Gerald
Harold
Henry
Jack
James
Jerry
Jesse
Jesus
Jimmie/Jimmy
Joe/Joseph
John/Johnny
Jose
Juan
Kenneth
Larry
Louis
Manuel
Melvin
Paul
Raymond
Richard
Robert/Bobby
Ronald
Roy
Thomas/Tommy
Walter

For extra credit, what do you think the boy named his catfish? And, what would you have named his catfish? ;)

(If you like this game, here’s a similar one from years ago: What Would You Name the Two Frenchmen?)

The Naming of Eustace Tilley

eustace tilley, 1925
Eustace Tilley

The very first issue of New Yorker magazine came out in early 1925. On the cover was a drawing of a top-hatted dandy pering at a butterfly through a monocle. He was created by the magazine’s original art editor, Rea Irvin, and soon became somewhat of a mascot for the magazine.

He also got a name: Eustace Tilley. It was coined by humorist Corey Ford, who said in his memoir:

“Tilley” was the name of a maiden aunt, and I chose “Eustace” because it sounded euphonious.

Other sources suggest that Ford might have been influenced by English male impersonator Vesta Tilley.

Did you know that, for many years, Eustace Tilley was listed in the Manhattan phone book? Harold Ross, co-founder of the magazine, “was delighted when the city authorities eventually sent this imaginary figure a personal-property tax bill.”

The name Eustace has been used as the English form of either of two ancient Greek names: Eustachius or Eustathius. Eustachius means “fruitful” (eu, “good” + stachus, “ear of corn”) and Eustathius means “well-built” (eu, “good” + histemi, “to stand, to set up”).

What are your thoughts on the name Eustace?

Sources: