How popular is the baby name Lee 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 Lee.

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Popularity of the baby name Lee


Posts that mention the name Lee

Babies named for Sterling Price

American soldier Sterling Price (1809-1867)
Sterling Price

Sterling Price was an officer in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

He was born into a family of slave-owning planters in Virginia, and moved (with his family) to Missouri as a young man. He entered politics in the 1830s, fought in the Mexican-American War in the 1940s, and served a four-year term as governor of Missouri in the mid-1850s.

During the Civil War, he was initially the commander of the Missouri State Guard. He joined the Confederates as a Major-General in early 1862.

In terms of namesakes, I found a smattering born in the 1850s, and hundreds more born during the first half of the 1860s.

Here are some of the Missouri boys who were named after their state’s governor:

And here are more than a dozen of the boys (also mostly from Missouri) who were named in honor of Price during the Civil War era:

So…how could a baby be named “Robert Lee Sterling Price Stephenson” after a pair of famous Civil War generals if he was born more than two years before the conflict started?

He wasn’t named right away — like many of the children born during that time period.

In fact, Sterling Price Robbins — the namesake just below Stephenson on the list — was born in late 1860, but not baptized until mid-1862. And his name proved to be controversial among locals in St. Louis:

In June 1862, [Rev. Samuel McPheeters] baptized a baby with the name the parents selected — Sterling Price Robbins, in honor of the Confederate leader at Wilson’s Creek. After some church members complained, federal officials banished McPheeters.

Similarly, Ohio baby girl Emancipation Proclamation Coggeshall wasn’t named until she was 2 years old.

Sources:

Image: Sterling Price

Where did the baby name Jheri come from in the 1980s?

Michael Jackson's Jheri curl hairstyle on the cover of the 1982 album "Thriller"
Michael Jackson’s Jheri curl

The Jerry-like name Jheri appeared regularly in the U.S. baby name data from 1980 until the mid-1990s:

  • 1996: unlisted
  • 1995: 7 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1994: 11 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1993: 10 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1992: 8 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1991: 12 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1990 9 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1989: 8 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1988 10 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1987 12 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1986: 9 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1985: 13 baby girls named Jheri (peak usage)
  • 1984: 8 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1982: 12 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1981: 8 baby girls named Jheri
  • 1980: 6 baby girls named Jheri (debut)
  • 1979: unlisted

Why?

Because of the Jheri curl, a hairstyle featuring loose, glossy curls that was trendy among African-Americans primarily during the 1980s. Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Rick James, and other famous men and women of the era sported Jheri-curled hair.

Where did the style come from?

The “curl” originated with hairdresser/entrepreneur Jheri Redding, who developed a chemical process to make straight hair curly. Salons started offering the Jheri Kurl (as it was often spelled in advertisements) in the early 1970s.

Then, African-American hairdresser/entrepreneur Willie Lee Morrow adapted the process for African-American hair. His two-step method involved straightening the hair before adding a looser curl. (He also introduced “curl activator” to add moisture to the style.) Salons began offering Morrow’s California Curl in the late 1970s.

Some salons, in fact, offered both perms:

Newspaper advertisement for California Curl and Jheri Kurl (Feb. 1979)
(Feb. 1979)

Finally, African-American entrepreneur Comer Cottrell made Morrow’s perm both less expensive and more widely available by developing the do-it-yourself Curly Kit.

His kits were advertised heavily in Jet magazine throughout 1980:

Magazine advertisement for Curly Kit (Aug. 1980)
(Aug. 1980)

In mid-1981, Forbes magazine declared the Curly Kit “the biggest single product ever to hit the black cosmetics market.” Numerous copycat kits (with names like Classy Curl, S-Curl, and Super Curl) soon followed.

Despite the crucial contributions of Morrow and Cottrell, though, it was Jheri Reddings’s distinctive first name — associated with the curl since the start — that became the generic term for the style.

So, where did “Jheri” come from?

Redding coined it himself.

He was born Robert William Redding on a farm in Illinois in 1907. He became a licensed cosmetologist after noticing, during the Depression, that hairdressers were still being paid well.

Redding was an innovative marketer — he introduced the concept of “pH balanced” shampoos, for instance — and he created the eye-catching name for himself at some point before 1950, because he’s listed as “Jheri R Redding” on the 1950 U.S. Census:

Jheri Redding on 1950 U.S. Census

He launched his first company, Jheri Redding Products, six years later.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Jheri?

Sources:

  • Johnston, David Cay. “Jheri Redding Is Dead at 91; A Hair Products Entrepreneur.” New York Times 21 Mar. 1998: A-13.
  • Folkart, Burt A. “Jheri Redding; Beauty Products Pioneer.” Los Angeles Times 18 Mar. 1998.
  • Mack, Toni. “Caution + Daring = 82% Returns.” Forbes 8 Jun. 1981: 101-103.
  • Byrd, Ayana and Lori Tharps. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2002.
  • Ford, Tanisha C. Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2019.
  • Moore, Jennifer Grayer. Fashion Fads Through American History: Fitting Clothes Into Context. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015.
  • SSA

Images: Clipping from Chula Vista Star-News (25 Feb. 1979); clipping from Jet magazine (14 Aug. 1980); clipping of the 1950 U.S. Census

Popular baby names in Gibraltar, 2023

Flag of Gibraltar
Flag of Gibraltar

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar — located at the southern tip of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, just a few miles away from Northern Africa — is home to roughly 32,700 people

Last year, Gibraltar welcomed 319 babies — 149 baby girls, and 170 baby boys. (My source article said the final tally was 318, but the full list [PDF] included an extra name.)

What were the most popular names among these babies? Ava/Lucia (tie) and Luca.

Here are Gibraltar’s top girl names and top boy names of 2023:

Girl names

  1. Ava and Lucia, 4 baby girls each (tie)
  2. Evie, Lily, Olivia, and Sienna, 3 each (4-way tie)
  3. Alba, Arabella, Brielle, Emma, Esme, Indie, Lena, Luna, Madison, Mia, Noa, Sofia, Sophia, Sophie, Talia, and Valentina, 2 each (16-way tie)

Boy names

  1. Luca, 5 baby boys
  2. Jack, Leon, and Liam, 4 each (3-way tie)
  3. James, Noah, Theo, and William, 3 each (4-way tie)
  4. Aiden, Alexander, Axel, Daniel, Dylan, Evan, Hugo, Jackson, Jake, Joey, Julian, Karim, Leo, Leonardo, Lucas, Matthew, Michael, Mohamed, Rafael, Robin, and Ryan, 2 each (21-way tie)

The rest of the names were each bestowed once. (Except for Reign, which was bestowed twice overall — once for each gender.)

Unique girl names (97)Unique boy names (99)
Aasiyah, Abigail, Adrianna, Alexandra, Alma, Amelia, Amiah, Anastasia, Anoushka, Anya, Aria, Arianna, Arianne, Arna, Avery, Bassma, Blossom, Carla, Charlotte, Chloe, Cole, Cora, Daisy, Daniella, Deborah, Devorah, Eadie, Eleanor, Elena, Eliana, Elie, Ella, Elodie, Elouisa, Elsie, Emilia, Emilie, Emily, Faith, Farah, Gia, Giselle, Grace, Gracie-Rae, Hallie, Hannah, Holly, Irene, Isabella, Isadora, Jawhara, Joudia, Julietta, Kaila, Kylie, Layan, Lia, Lilijana, Lilya, Lorena, Lucie, Lucy, Luella, Maram, Matilda, Maya, Mila, Miral, Molly, Niah, Niv, Nora, Nylah, Ottilie, Paige, Penelope, Reign, Rhea, Ria, Riley-Mae, Rina, Rivka, Ruth, Sabrina, Sage, Sara, Scarlett, Sia, Skye, Souhaila, Sydney, Tania, Teresa, Tillia, Vivienne, Yashu, ZainabAaron, Adonis, Alejandro, Alfei, Anthon, Aries, Ashton, August, Ayaan, Ayman, Brooke, Caleb, Charles, Christian, Cody, Colby, Cory, Elai, Eliyahu, Elliott, Eneko, Eoin, Etienne, Evren, Ezio, Finley, Frederick, Gino, Godred, Grayson, Harvey, Hayden, Hiyaan, Ilan, Indra, Jai, Jamie, Jayce, Jayme, Jesse, Johar, Joseph, Joshua, Jovan, Justin, Kai, Keenan, Kobe, Koen, Laurence, Lawson, Lee, Logan, Louay, Louie, Luke, Mael, Mason, Matteo, Max, Milan, Musa, Nasir, Nate, Nathan, Nathaniel, Nial, Nicholas, Nicolas, Nikolai, Nolan, Nyle, Oliver, Ori, Owen, Ramy, Raphael, Ray, Refael, Reign, Rex, Rian, Ricardo, River, Romeo, Roux, Ruben, Rylee, Salman, Sam, Samuel, Scott, Stefan, Theodore, Thiago, Yaakov, Yisroel, Zachary, Ziggy

Finally, here are Gibraltar’s 2022 rankings, if you’d like to compare last year to the year before.

Sources:

Image: Adapted from Flag of Gibraltar (public domain)

What gave the baby name Gordon a boost in 1963?

The Cooper family -- Camala, Janita, Trudy, and Gordon -- with Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy (May, 1963)
The Coopers and the Kennedys

The name Gordon, after ranking as one of the top 100 boy names in the nation from the early 1910s to the early 1940s, began to decline in usage. Amid that decline, Gordon saw a conspicuous uptick in 1963:

  • 1965: 1,445 baby boys named Gordon [rank: 178th]
  • 1964: 1,770 baby boys named Gordon [rank: 167th]
  • 1963: 2,084 baby boys named Gordon [rank: 158th]
  • 1962: 1,783 baby boys named Gordon [rank: 173rd]
  • 1961: 1,990 baby boys named Gordon [rank: 165th]

What caused it?

Astronaut Leroy Gordon Cooper (who went by Gordon, or “Gordo”).

Cooper learned to fly planes during his childhood in Oklahoma. After joining the Air Force in 1949, he worked first as a fighter pilot, then as a test pilot.

In 1959, he was selected by NASA to fly spacecraft for the country’s first human spaceflight program, Project Mercury.

In May of 1963, he piloted Mercury’s final crewed mission — which nearly ended in disaster when the spacecraft’s autopilot system failed while Cooper was preparing to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere:

After being strapped in the 6-ft.-wide Faith 7 for nearly a day and a half, he had to take over when the best equipment that the best of science could provide failed. He had to respond with incredible precision to directions from earth; he had to show a kind of skill and nerve and calm that no man has ever had to demonstrate.

Cooper performed a risky manual re-entry and returned to Earth unharmed.

Speaking of Earth, he’d orbited the planet 22 times during the 34 hours and 20 minutes he’d spent in space. (Cooper logged “more spaceflight time than the other five Mercury flights combined.”)

The success of the mission made Gordon Cooper a celebrity. He was honored with several parades (including a ticker-tape parade in New York City), featured on the cover of both Life and Time magazines, and given a number of awards (such as the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, presented by President John F. Kennedy).

The surname Cooper also got a slight boost (as a baby name) in the early ’60s, reaching then-peak usage in 1964:

  • 1966: 15 baby boys named Cooper
  • 1965: 26 baby boys named Cooper
  • 1964: 30 baby boys named Cooper
  • 1963: 18 baby boys named Cooper
  • 1962: 8 baby boys named Cooper

Even Gordon Cooper’s family — his wife Gertrude (“Trudy”) and teenage daughters Camala Keoki (“Cam”) and Janita Lee (“Jan”) — influenced the baby name charts.

Gertrude, Janita, and Camala Cooper on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine (Sept. 1963)
Trudy, Jan, and Cam Gordon

The baby name Trudy saw its last prominent spike in usage in 1963, and the uncommon names Camala (pronounced CAM-uh-luh) and Janita (pronounced jah-NEE-tuh) both peaked that year as well:

Girls named TrudyGirls named CamalaGirls named Janita
1965584 [377th]2238
1964672 [365th]936
1963851 [325th]37†57†
1962717 [355th]6*26
1961682 [367th].32
*Debut, †Peak usage

(The name Kamala peaked around the same time, but for a different reason.)

Gordo and Trudy met while attending the University of Hawaii. According to one source, they named their daughters “with a Hawaiian nostalgia.”

Ironically, the couple had long been estranged by 1963. They presented themselves as happily married to NASA — and to the public — because the space agency would only work with pilots who had stable home lives.

What are your thoughts on the names of Gordon Cooper’s daughters, Camala and Janita? Which name do you prefer?

P.S. A month after Cooper’s flight, the Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman (and first civilian) in space.

Sources:

Images: