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106 of the Least Popular Baby Names in American History

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The SSA website gives the top 1000 boy and girl names (as reported on Social Security card applications) for each year from 1880 onward. If you look at the low end of the top 1000 names for 2012, you see boys’ names like Dangelo, Foster, Jaidyn, Briggs and Davon. For girls, you see names like Katalina, Hayleigh, Sloan, Karlie, and Meadow. These names are a bit different, but not all that unusual. Even the 1000th most popular name represents a few hundred babies, or even a few thousand if added up over four or five years. However, in the early years of SSA data, the population was much smaller, so the low end of the list represents fewer babies. And there are some pretty fabulous names in there. 

I went through the first 53 years of the SSA records and pulled out some of the best boy and girl names from the 900 to 1000 range for each year. Together, they make for great couples. I love imagining that among all the Johns and Marys who settled down together, Orange and Leafy (1893), or Henery and Florance (1897), or Lillian the boy and Lillyan the girl (1908) might have found each other too.

If you’re looking for a baby name and want something truly original, but with historical precedent, here’s your list:

Year Boy (Rank) Girl (Rank)
1880 Handy (970) Parthenia (914)
1881 Okey (972) Erie (1000)
1882 Ab (943) Dove (944)
1883 Commodore (925) Lovey (992)
1884 Spurgeon (958) Kathern (974)
1885 Fount (989) Icy (977)
1886 Squire (953) Texie (987)
1887 Bliss (946) Lockie (907)
1888 Boss (930) Indiana (989)
1889 Starling (962) Easter (967)
1890 Lawyer (999) Pinkey (918)
1891 Manley (962) Chestina (974)
1892 Little (914) Odell (1000)
1893 Orange (1000) Leafy (933)
1894 Flem (1000) Ova (986)
1895 Toy (969) Sister (974)
1896 Josephine (937)* Clifford (935)*
1897 Henery (1000) Florance (1000)
1898 Pleasant (973) Tiny (915)
1899 Fate (972) Cuba (884)
1900 Gorge (935) Electa (948)
1901 Joesph (999) Buelah (923)
1902 Rolla (917) Bama (942)
1903 Ples (992) Capitola (982)
1904 Council (989) Pearly (993)
1905 Son (912) Wava (967)
1906 Virgle (999) Carry (971)
1907 Geo (956) Arizona (949)
1908 Lillian (992) Lilyan (991)
1909 Murl (1000) Flonnie (1000)
1910 Lemon (964) Classie (994)
1911 Wash (978) Lavada (806)
1912 Christ (940) Almeta (940)
1913 Louise (982) Louis (974)
1914 Stephan (1000) Vella (1000)
1915 Mayo (990) Dimple (980)
1916 Green (929) Golden (908)
1917 Elza (968) Loyce (984)
1918 Curley (998) Ivory (979)
1919 Metro (982) Louvenia (993)
1920 Berry (941) Merry (934)
1921 Reno (969) Glendora (976)
1922 Author (950) Gaynell (981)
1923 Burley (994) Dorathy (995)
1924 Dorman (954) Mardell (982)
1925 Buddie (973) Bobbye (990)
1926 Wardell (929) Willodean (941)
1927 Estel (914) Gregoria (970)
1928 Gust (996) Hildred (998)
1929 Vester (984) Jettie (953)
1930 Otho (972) Charlsie (951)
1931 Early (1000) Ferne (1000)
1932 Dock (928) Jack (992)

* Not an error!

See Also...

8 Countries With Fascinating Baby Naming Laws
*
11 Baby Naming Trends of the Past
*
Dog Naming Trends Through the Ages

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You Can Now Rent the Montgomery, Alabama Home of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald Through Airbnb
Chris Pruitt, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The former apartment of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, perhaps the most famous couple of the Jazz Age, is now available to rent on a nightly basis through Airbnb, The Chicago Tribune reports. While visitors are discouraged from throwing parties in the spirit of Jay Gatsby, they are invited to write, drink, and live there as the authors did.

The early 20th-century house in Montgomery, Alabama was home to the pair from 1931 to 1932. It's where Zelda worked on her only novel Save Me the Waltz and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote part of Tender Is the Night. The building was also the last home they shared with their daughter Scottie before she moved to boarding school.

In the 1980s, the house was rescued from a planned demolition and turned into a nonprofit. Today, the site is a museum and a spot on the Southern Literary Trail. While the first floor of the Fitzgerald museum, which features first-edition books, letters, original paintings, and other artifacts related to the couple, isn't available to rent, the two-bedroom apartment above it goes for $150 a night. Guests staying there will find a record player and a collection of jazz albums, pillows embroidered with Zelda Fitzgerald quotes, and a balcony with views of the property's magnolia tree. Of the four surviving homes Zelda and F. Scott lived in while traveling the world, this is the only one that's accessible to the public.

Though the Fitzgerald home is the only site on the Southern Literary Trail available to rent through Airbnb, it's just one of the trail's many historic homes. The former residences of Flannery O'Connor, Caroline Miller, and Lillian Smith are all open to the public as museums.

[h/t The Chicago Tribune]

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Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
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History
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, MLive.com reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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