How popular is the baby name Swanee 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 Swanee.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Swanee


Posts that Mention the Name Swanee

Interesting one-hit wonder names in the U.S. baby name data

tulips

They came, they went, and they never came back!

These baby names are one-hit wonders in the U.S. baby name data. That is, they’ve only popped up once, ever, in the entire dataset of U.S. baby names (which accounts for all names given to at least 5 U.S. babies per year since 1880).

There are thousands of one-hit wonders in the dataset, but the names below have interesting stories behind their single appearance, so these are the one-hits I’m writing specific posts about. Just click on a name to read more.

1890s

1900s

  • (none yet)

1910s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

2020s

  • (none yet)

As I discover (and write about) more one-hit wonders in the data, I’ll add the names/links to this page. In the meanwhile, do you have any favorite one-hit wonder baby names?

P.S. You might also be interested in this list of the top one-hit wonder baby names since 1880

How did “High Hat” influence baby names?

Newspaper advertisement for the serialized story "High Hat" (1930)
High Hat” advertisement (1930)

Like Gone with the Wind and How Green Was My Valley, High Hat was a story that influenced U.S. baby names not once but twice: first in written form, then in movie form.

Originally called High Hat: A Radio Romance, the story was written by Alma Sioux Scarberry. (Her middle name was originally “Sue,” but she changed it when she learned she was part Native American — Cherokee specifically, not actually Sioux.) It was serialized in the newspapers in 1930 — from March to May, in most of them. It was published as a stand-alone book over the summer.

The main character, Elanda Lee, was a singer with “high hat” ambitions: she worked in radio, but wanted to become an opera star. Her love interest was popular radio star Suwanee Collier, who she initially dismissed because he was “only a ukulele player.” In the end, “[s]he stoops to conquer by becoming the most popular girl on the radio programs singing the praises of complexion soap.” (Here’s a longer synopsis of High Hat, if you’re interested.)

And in 1930, right on cue, the baby name Elanda debuted in the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: 6 baby girls named Elanda
  • 1930: 19 baby girls named Elanda [debut & peak usage]
  • 1929: unlisted
  • 1928: unlisted

A number of these Elandas also got the middle name Lee. (Here are examples from graveyards in Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Alabama.)

…But it doesn’t end there. Because in early 1937, the movie High Hat was released. (Here’s a complete copy of High Hat up at the Internet Archive, if you’d like to watch.) And it seems that, in the movie, Swanee — now being spelled like the Gershwin song — was the central character. He ultimately helped classically trained singer Elanda adapt to the trend of “swing” music.

The character Swanee Collier from the movie "High Hat" (1937).
Swanee from “High Hat

The same year, the baby name Swanee was a one-hit wonder in the data, showing up as a girl name. (This is one of several baby names that came from male character, yet popped up on the girls’ side of the list. Another example is Kookie.)

  • 1939: unlisted
  • 1938: unlisted
  • 1937: 5 baby girls named Swanee [debut]
  • 1936: unlisted
  • 1935: unlisted

Curiously, the baby name Elanda did not re-emerge in ’37. That said, the name “Landa” did pop up the next year…perhaps there’s a connection?

What are your thoughts on the names Elanda and Swanee?

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