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Babes named (in) Brooklyn

Jun 8, 2009 11:55 AM | 1 comment

Whilst doing research, I discovered an article from March 7, 1938 titled “Everybody Wants Library to Name Baby.” It seems that the Brooklyn Public Library received a “flood of requests for baby names” when the public discovered that the library had a whopping 560,000 names at its disposal.CHUR 0878 Soon the librarians spent oodles of time looking for names for a “whimsical baby boy with long ears and a penchant for the esthetic” or a “girl, coquettish, second choice of father who wanted boy named Jack.” To manage the demand, the chief librarian insisted that name-finding was only for Brooklynites.

Luckily for parents-to-be, things have changed since 1938. Especially since the 1980s, an abundance of baby name books populate library shelves. Name books are organized by ethnicity, meanings, popularity, celebrity names, and giant dictionaries of virtually every name in existence. A quick catalog search brings up a substantial list of books, providing an overwhelming number of possible names.

To simplify the search, online sites maintain lists of thousands of names (and can be a great way to waste time). The Social Security Administration is an easy way to find out that Jacob and Emma were the number one names for 2008, while John and Mary were number one in 1880. Another site, Baby Name Wizard, uses interactive graphics and maps to show changes in popularity over time and by geographic area. Searching for the name “Brooklyn” reveals that as a girl’s name, it has been steadily increasing in popularity; not so much in New York, but it's a giant hit in Utah. Go Brooklyn!


6/9/2009 5:52:53 PM #

Great post, Lisa! WolframAlpha also contains great historical statistics on baby names, though I don't think they index by location.