Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.
Let’s start with some stats:
1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.
And now, on to the names!
A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:
Top baby girl names
Top baby boy names
1. Mary 2. Catherine 3. Sarah 4. Ellen 5. Margaret
1. John 2. William 3. James 4. Charles 5. George
All Girl Names
Mary, 149 baby girls
Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
A serialized story called Marrying for Money by Mrs. Eva Leonard. It ran in various U.S. newspapers during the first half of 1916.
In the story, Ortrude was a self-centered woman who married a wealthy older man with two adolescent children (Marian and Dudley). Ortrude’s bad behavior did not endear her to anyone in her new family, husband included. By the end of the tale, she’d had an epiphany and changed her ways.
Do you like the name Ortrude? Do you like it more or less than the similar name Gertrude?
Though Jubilee is seeing a good amount of birth-certificate usage these days, it only began popping up in the U.S. baby name data relatively recently, in 1975:
1977: 6 baby girls named Jubilee
1976: 8 baby girls named Jubilee
1975: 9 baby girls named Jubilee [debut]
I don’t think that year is a coincidence; it lines up perfectly with one of the Roman Catholic Church’s more recent jubilee years.
Speaking of special Roman Catholic years…the church has also celebrated a total of two Marian years, the first of which was in 1954. That year, the baby name Marian saw a sharp rise in usage and nearly returned to top 100:
1956: 1,249 baby girls named Marian [232nd]
1955: 1,497 baby girls named Marian [208th]
1954: 4,014 baby girls named Marian [104th]
1953: 1,366 baby girls named Marian [217th]
1952: 1,246 baby girls named Marian [221st]
The other Marian year lasted from mid-1987 to mid-1988 and had no effect on the name.
Which of these two names do you prefer, Jubilee or Marian?
Update, 10/22/2020 – I spoke too soon regarding Jubilee! Turns out peak usage was in 2015-2016 — likely because of the Catholic Church’s “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy” that was announced in early 2015 and lasted from late 2015 to late 2016. After that, usage began dropping:
On the morning of October 2, 2006, a gunman took ten girls (ages 6 to 13) hostage in a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding the other five, before committing suicide.
One of the girls who was killed was 7-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersol. Earlier during the incident — before the gunman had ordered the adult women and the boys to leave — Naomi had been comforted by a 22-year-old pregnant woman named Lydia Mae Zook.
[Lydia] reached over and patted the frightened child on the back.
“It’s going to be all right,” she assured the little girl.
On October 10, Lydia gave birth to her baby girl three weeks early. She named the baby Naomi Rose.
(The other little girls who lost their lives were named Anna, Lena, Marian, and Mary.)