A Snapshot of World War I in Baby Names

Jul 25th 2018


Baby name history is like a fossil record of culture. You can see broad trends in society over generations, but also individual moments frozen in time. Today we're turning back the clock to look at the American homefront in World War I, as captured by baby names.

The Great War began in Europe in 1914, and the United States entered the fight in 1917. Peace came with the Armistice of November, 1918. Along the way, American parents honored the war's people and places, battles and allies in the names of their children. Each of the names below spiked in popularity in 1917-18. Some, like Freedom, were given to just a handful of children; others, like Pershing, to hundreds.

PEOPLE

Foch (Male name spike; honoring Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch)
Haig (M; British Commander in Chief Douglas Haig)
Pershing (M; American Commander John "Black Jack" Pershing)
Adelheid (F; Archduchess Adelheid of Austria, young daughter of the Archduke and a rare name trend-maker from across the lines)
Quentin (M & F; army pilot Lt. Quentin Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt, shot down in combat in 1918)

BATTLES & SOLDIERS

Marne (M & F; the Allied victory in the Second Battle of the Marne marked the end of German offensives on the Western Front)
Verdun (M & F; the nine-month Battle of Verdun was the war's longest battle)
Lieutenant (M; military rank)

UNITY WITH FRANCE

France (M)
Paris (F)
Alsace (F)
French (F)
Francelle (F)
Francella
(F)
Francenia
(F)
Francelina
(F)

PEACE AT LAST

Victory (M, F)
Liberty (F)
Freedom (F)
Armistice (F; a brief review of birth records reveals that nearly all of these babies were born on the exact Armistice date, 11/11/18)

 

 

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