How popular is the baby name Lafollette 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 Lafollette.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Lafollette

Posts that Mention the Name Lafollette

Babies named for Robert La Follette

Politician Robert La Follette (1855-1925)
Robert La Follette

Politician Robert Marion La Follette (1855-1925) served as Governor of Wisconsin (from 1901 to 1906) and as U.S. Senator from Wisconsin (from 1906 to 1925).

In 1924, he unsuccessfully ran for U.S. President as a third-party candidate. He wasn’t able to overcome Coolidge, but he did win 16.6% of the popular vote (and he carried the state of Wisconsin, of course).

Dozens of baby boys — most born in the state of Wisconsin, unsurprisingly — were named in La Follette’s honor during the early decades of the 1900s. Some examples…

The fourth namesake on this list went on to be appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1966. (He was the second Native American to hold the position.) He was sworn in by Lyndon B. Johnson, who said:

This morning Mr. Robert La Follette Bennett — who bears this great name of an American who fought all of his life for the rights of his fellow citizens, named for a man who is revered from one end of the country to the other, and now his namesake — comes here to assume a position in which he will be able to carry on that proud tradition.

Dozens of other babies were given the first name La Follette. For instance, La Follette Marion Allen was born in Wisconsin in 1902. (His father was named DeWitt Clinton Allen, interestingly.)

Several months after Robert M. La Follette passed away in 1925, his son Robert M. La Follette, Jr., was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy. La Follette, Jr., served in the Senate for more than 21 years before he was finally ousted in the mid-1940s by none other than Joseph McCarthy.


Where did the baby name Fola come from in 1911?

Actress and activist Fola La Follette (1882-1970)
Fola La Follette

The simple name Fola has only appeared in the U.S. baby name data twice:

  • 1913: unlisted
  • 1912: 7 baby girls named Fola
  • 1911: 6 baby girls named Fola [debut]
  • 1910: unlisted
  • 1909: unlisted

What put it there?

My guess is Flora “Fola” La Follette (1882-1970), the daughter of well-known Wisconsin politician Robert La Follette and his wife, women’s suffrage leader Isabelle “Belle” Case La Follette.

Fola La Follette, who had embarked upon a career as a stage actress in 1903, was getting extra attention around 1911 for a couple of reasons:

  • First, the news of her engagement and marriage to playwright George Middleton in October of 1911.
  • Second, her efforts as a suffragist. (She started performing the one-woman play How the Vote was Won in 1910, for instance.)
Fola La Follette pictured in a newspaper
Fola in the papers

It looks like baby girls were being named after Fola La Follette earlier than 1911, though. Here’s some data from the Social Security Death Index:

  • 1913: 4 people named Fola (1 died in Wisconsin)
  • 1912: 7 people named Fola
  • 1911: 12 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1910: 4 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1909: 3 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1908: 5 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1907: 2 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1906: 3 people named Fola (1 died in WI)
  • 1905: 4 people named Fola
  • 1904: 6 people named Fola (2 died in WI)
  • 1903: 2 people named Fola
  • 1902: 0 people named Fola
  • 1901: 0 people named Fola
  • 1900: 0 people named Fola

Not only does it show a similar spike in usage, but it suggests that interest in “Fola” picked up around the time Fola La Follette began performing, and also reveals that a disproportionate number of these Folas died in Wisconsin — suggesting that many of them were also born in Wisconsin. (Fola Norton, for example, was born in Wisconsin in 1910 and died there in 1999.)

I even found three females with “Fola La Follette” as their first and middle names, including Fola La Follette Kessler (née Sheaffer), born in Iowa in 1905.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Fola? (Do you like it more or less than Flora?)