The Brand-New Names of…1969

Feb 1st 2018

If it’s in the zeitgeist, it’s in the names.  Every cultural shift, every hot trend, every new societal understanding leaves lasting footprints in the form of baby names.

When it comes to the tumultuous times of the late 1960s, those footprints may look faint from a distance. Top-10 girls’ names of the year of Woodstock included Lisa, Kimberly, Amy and Tammy – not exactly the sound of revolution. But if you dig deeper, you find reflections of the unique spirit and events of the era.

I searched through historical data for names that registered in the stats for the first time ever in 1969. The signs of the times are clear, from the silly to the profound. Here’s a name-based snapshot of what was on parents’ minds in 1968-69.


Barbarella, Che Guevara. Images: Wikimedia Commons

World Events

Aldrin (M): 1969 moon-walking astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Che (F): Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara (Che debuted in the boys’ column a year earlier)

Tuesdee (F): Jockey Tuesdee Testa, who became the first woman to win a race at a major U.S. racetrack in 1969

Pop Culture

Barbarella (F): Cartoonishly sexy 1968 science fiction film Barbarella

Cassidy (F): Acclaimed 1969 western film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Chastity (F): The birth name of a child born to singers Sonny & Cher in 1969

Tige (M): TV’s Mod Squad star Tige Andrews

Trevino (M): Upstart 1968 U.S. Open Golf champion Lee Trevino

Spirituality and the Age of Aquarius

Dharma (F): Term with varied important meanings in Buddhism and Hinduism

Shalom (F): Hebrew word for peace

Uranus (F): In astrology, the ruling planet of Aquarius

Zen (M): A school of Buddhism emphasizing meditation

African Pride

Africa (F): The whole continent

Biafra (F): Secessionist state which fought for independence from Nigeria, 1967-70

Ghana (F): The West African nation

Nubia (F): Historical Nile region, home to early African kingdoms

Tanganyika (F): East African territory that was a sovereign state in the early 1960s, now part of Tanzania

 

Comments

1
February 2, 2018 4:51 PM

I sure hope those baby girls named Uranus got great middle names. 

2
February 2, 2018 11:53 PM

Typo: it's Tanganyika. (The name Tanzania was created by blending Tanganyika with Zanzibar.)

Oh, and wait, what? Uranus for girls?? Whatever were those parents thinking? Urania would have the same referent, and while it's still a fairly unfortunate name in English, it's only about half as bad as the masculine version.

3
By mk
February 5, 2018 4:33 PM

The jockey's name was Tuesdee Testa, which is why that spelling. Actress Tuesday Weld would have been the likely inspiration for any baby Tuesdays.

 

4
February 6, 2018 11:08 AM

Thanks to everyone who caught typos in the names! One of the difficulties in writing about names is that spell-checkers are essentially useless. It's especially hard when a name starts the same as a common word, and my typing fingers want to complete it that way. I really have to force my hands to type "Tuesdee" or even "Londyn."

5
February 6, 2018 5:36 PM

As someone who was born in the early 1980’s, it’s interesting to look back at this. Especially just on impression some were warranted as cultural change, but what seems to lose luster are ones that are based on “media consumption.” I don’t know why it strikes me that way, but oh well!? It would be fun to see each decade and if there’s a way to measure more “entertainment” influence now than ever because of new territory with internet, and now social media.