Saturday, October 31, 2015

First Names Part II – Trends

I should ask school teachers how they handle trendy names. What do you do when facing a classroom with 3 Emmas, 2 Zoes, 2 Liams and 2 Ethans?
Not that this is a new problem. I’m guessing that there have been trends in naming babies as long as humans have had names. Every culture has its own name trends over the years; so I don’t know why it surprised me to find the same thing in 19th’ century Polish Catholic baptism records. Probably it stood out because the names were not the familiar English language names I hear and see every day.

Reading LDS microfilms of church records, I’d find one year when it seemed as though 25% of girl babies were named Josepha or many boys named Andrej (or some spelling variation), and another year when Elizabeth and Johann were common.  It is too bad that I never kept track of these because it would be a great research project to learn what were the cultural influences at those times.

Looking back at US ancestors in a couple of my lines, there were times when biblical names were very popular. There were also patriotic names. My husband’s paternal line has 5 men named after George Washington; and 2 after Thomas Jefferson.  In the US in modern times, we see trends based on movie stars, sports stars and other celebrities.

Personally, as a child, I disliked having a common name: Mary. There were too many other Marys when I was in Catholic School. I wanted something exotic. I envied Rita Hayworth’s daughter named Yasmin. But I survived.

I wonder if any of the “old fashioned” names will get recycled: re-trended? Will we ever see a resurgence of Donna, or Mabel? Of Herbert or Edgar???


  1. Mary , your name was very popular inpast in Poland but now is very rare. Andrzej - Andrew na Josefa were very popular during WWII and earlier. Now they completely unpopular. I work at school now Alex, Robert, Patricia. Matthew, Jacob Philip.and so .. Times has changed

  2. +Gosia - do they use the English spelling as you wrote above, or do they use a Polish equivalent?

  3. Mary we can use Polish and English one