31 May 2015

What is in a name?

Nearly four years ago we were blessed with the birth of our youngest daughter. She was born five years after our then youngest and 16 years after our oldest. We call her our bonus because she is a true prize. Like most parents we came to a point where we were discussing names for our new baby girl.

Our oldest daughter we named after a prominent character from the book series The Work and the Glory by Gerald N. Lund. For those of you who may not know, the nine-part series chronicles the early growth of the LDS Church and ending in 1847 when the pioneers settle in the Salt Lake Valley. The story line includes both fictional and actual events. The release of the last two books coincided with the birth of our oldest daughter. My wife first suggested the name but one night and while I was reading I came to the same conclusion. We loved the classic pioneer name Lydia and the values the character from the book held. Her middle name is my grandma's maiden name - one that is closely tied to our family.


When we were discussing what to name our oldest daughter, another name in the running was one of the character's names from the T.V. show Party of Five. I admit my interest in the name Julia was partially because I liked the nickname they used for the character -- Jewels. When my second daughter was born this name came into play again because it also ended in the letters IA, like my oldest daughter's. We soon knew this was the name that we wanted. Her middle name is my wife's first name as well as a great grandmother among others.


When my youngest daughter was born we struggled finding a name that we really liked. We wanted a classic name to go along with her sisters but none of them really spoke to us. I googled,"names that end in IA" and got a list that included; Alexia, Alivia, Alexandria, Asia, Cynthia, Georgia, Leia, Malia, Virginia, Nadia, Portia, Octavia, and Gloria. The funny thing was that my grandmother's name was Gloria but it didn't seem to fit. I also had a relative named Octavia, which sparked a genealogical interest in me. How many relatives do I have whose names end in IA?

A quick search in my Legacy database gave me a list of more than 350 females with the letters IA in their given name. I sorted out those that ended in IA; Octavia, Gloria, Maria, Livinia, Sophia, Aqualina, Celia, Julia, Anthonia, Lydia, Leticia, Olivia, Victoria, Cornelia, Amelia, Angelia, Pamelia, Berthia, Patricia, Cordelia, Clestia, Lorania. Nellia, Armedia, Elviria, Euphemia, Letia, Eugenia, Mahalia, Lelia, Loucia, and Idoshia. That does not include the names that sound like they end in IA like Keziah or Mariah. Two of these names we had already used, one my sister-in-law used for their daughter and a few were other cousins or their children's names. Some we admittedly did not even consider because they were too obscure or odd.

I could not believe how many female relative had names that ended in IA. But a name did not jump out at us from the list. We decided to look at a group of names that end in A. Wow! I was blown away. My mother, sister, both daughters, both grandmothers, three of four great-grandmothers, and five out of eight of my great-great-grandmothers all have names that end in the letter A.


According to statistics from the Social Security Administration, names that end in the letter A make up 25%-40% of all female names. This is a trend that began in the 1930's when female names that end in E declined in popularity just as names that end with A began to become more popular.


Similar statistics for the letter A can be found in a different configuration below. A link to the source of this and more information can be found here.

year letter contains initial final sex
1880 a 74.52002 10.25793 34.5587 F
1881 a 73.86439 10.22783 34.34397 F
1882 a 73.31201 10.20028 33.87668 F
1883 a 73.29374 10.35594 34.1251 F
1884 a 72.94415 10.32692 33.85469 F
1885 a 72.65341 10.09883 34.12724 F
1886 a 72.16987 9.973432 33.97055 F
1887 a 72.07258 10.16358 33.52605 F
1888 a 71.66794 9.925096 33.27642 F
1889 a 71.06888 9.917304 32.87136 F
1890 a 70.78339 9.770562 32.7312 F
1891 a 70.30779 9.684985 32.66175 F
1892 a 69.73444 9.53251 32.17799 F
1893 a 69.17856 9.464226 31.85475 F
1894 a 69.04433 9.412709 31.68418 F
1895 a 68.74601 9.29714 31.24714 F
1896 a 68.50438 9.25009 30.92736 F
1897 a 68.29945 9.079808 30.80602 F
1898 a 68.03982 8.914025 30.58677 F
1899 a 67.89158 8.990529 30.3455 F
1900 a 67.57361 8.794808 29.99073 F
1901 a 67.55282 8.859448 30.15931 F
1902 a 67.26472 8.862499 29.46694 F
1903 a 66.96046 8.790949 29.44147 F
1904 a 66.61752 8.773223 29.1246 F
1905 a 66.4471 8.823449 28.82948 F
1906 a 66.28841 8.949821 28.36317 F
1907 a 66.07694 8.770894 28.35465 F
1908 a 65.85693 8.744709 28.05043 F
1909 a 65.44659 8.565487 27.69376 F
1910 a 65.54522 8.597112 27.3392 F
1911 a 65.33518 8.50459 27.05126 F
1912 a 65.0141 8.441961 26.72905 F
1913 a 64.89015 8.346371 26.59693 F
1914 a 64.69564 8.318866 26.23658 F
1915 a 64.42025 8.249278 26.15908 F
1916 a 64.43673 8.102422 26.06758 F
1917 a 64.30105 8.029007 25.87358 F
1918 a 64.13086 7.814209 25.7134 F
1919 a 63.80567 7.658949 25.53694 F
1920 a 63.77343 7.514951 25.23755 F
1921 a 63.90863 7.428988 25.28748 F
1922 a 63.81817 7.302301 25.26306 F
1923 a 63.40946 7.144894 25.1091 F
1924 a 63.32793 7.029301 25.27369 F
1925 a 63.14525 6.938364 25.42985 F
1926 a 63.03616 6.866805 25.4158 F
1927 a 63.0742 6.623449 25.50903 F
1928 a 63.25977 6.531078 25.64643 F
1929 a 63.40437 6.381267 25.48332 F
1930 a 64.10109 6.265058 25.61394 F
1931 a 65.06745 6.193562 25.78578 F
1932 a 65.91598 6.111032 26.13958 F
1933 a 66.72413 6.004704 26.21639 F
1934 a 66.98664 5.849401 26.19668 F
1935 a 66.55249 5.702531 26.0573 F
1936 a 67.86346 5.65234 26.26164 F
1937 a 69.39654 5.49249 27.44675 F
1938 a 70.30747 5.322434 27.94419 F
1939 a 70.71503 5.103105 28.30608 F
1940 a 71.15364 4.909787 29.09582 F
1941 a 71.96129 4.594606 29.50641 F
1942 a 72.93857 4.34592 29.59836 F
1943 a 73.34266 4.168121 29.82674 F
1944 a 73.27979 4.031697 30.11592 F
1945 a 73.71489 3.993885 30.55909 F
1946 a 74.12495 3.840462 30.95404 F
1947 a 75.0905 3.661339 33.23117 F
1948 a 75.61626 3.598272 33.98351 F
1949 a 75.96036 3.516051 33.82277 F
1950 a 76.14923 3.537081 33.65552 F
1951 a 76.22307 3.490477 33.78995 F
1952 a 75.93782 3.494524 33.69351 F
1953 a 76.05362 3.520718 34.28271 F
1954 a 75.46679 3.460659 34.23176 F
1955 a 74.60811 3.522066 34.28779 F
1956 a 73.82887 3.677775 34.12489 F
1957 a 72.71391 3.714535 33.71853 F
1958 a 71.81864 3.926097 33.10452 F
1959 a 71.82456 4.162689 33.79188 F
1960 a 71.45237 4.396511 34.18437 F
1961 a 71.38987 4.481171 34.42071 F
1962 a 71.04506 4.629981 34.70586 F
1963 a 71.07125 4.920509 35.46933 F
1964 a 71.01789 5.356587 35.47587 F
1965 a 70.94085 5.873634 36.26026 F
1966 a 69.89726 6.037679 36.41239 F
1967 a 69.76717 6.626788 36.63929 F
1968 a 69.25942 6.764074 36.54414 F
1969 a 68.98531 7.034294 36.2349 F
1970 a 69.15822 7.653253 35.89144 F
1971 a 69.16791 8.393432 36.37819 F
1972 a 68.65932 8.569965 36.66013 F
1973 a 69.24464 9.14052 36.75871 F
1974 a 69.51673 9.788963 36.66867 F
1975 a 70.65961 10.81685 36.92111 F
1976 a 71.84192 10.99666 36.98978 F
1977 a 72.0654 10.8712 37.34323 F
1978 a 72.393 11.08134 37.48599 F
1979 a 73.2616 12.00301 38.15735 F
1980 a 73.576 12.08846 37.82477 F
1981 a 74.31998 12.24014 37.7197 F
1982 a 74.83111 12.37926 36.93488 F
1983 a 75.70983 13.36083 36.3424 F
1984 a 76.58066 13.59029 36.32794 F
1985 a 77.38397 14.09718 36.29746 F
1986 a 78.01985 14.53631 36.43987 F
1987 a 78.84387 14.98302 37.24889 F
1988 a 79.16256 14.5784 37.24228 F
1989 a 79.52662 14.59811 37.5996 F
1990 a 79.73598 14.53891 37.88208 F
1991 a 79.79202 14.37685 37.93236 F
1992 a 79.94197 13.9194 37.86326 F
1993 a 80.18098 14.03269 37.64151 F
1994 a 80.23309 14.1828 37.42792 F
1995 a 80.30071 14.13233 37.44394 F
1996 a 80.53618 14.18185 37.38367 F
1997 a 80.93557 14.53033 37.58975 F
1998 a 81.28899 14.78679 37.51978 F
1999 a 81.01342 14.62272 37.39282 F
2000 a 81.06005 14.92776 37.23858 F
2001 a 81.20947 15.49007 37.44748 F
2002 a 81.10929 16.14537 37.95363 F
2003 a 81.00319 16.2188 38.5146 F
2004 a 80.93975 16.25751 38.75734 F
2005 a 81.1341 16.54111 39.44685 F
2006 a 81.1969 17.0129 39.72795 F
2007 a 80.89849 17.47492 39.2715 F
2008 a 80.29398 17.31019 38.40526 F
2009 a 79.85439 17.49569 38.2201 F
2010 a 79.04827 17.58943 38.12531 F
2011 a 78.37639 17.75527 37.46902 F
2012 a 78.17938 18.09132 37.2413 F

It was hard to think that we had inadvertently named both of my daughters with names that ended in A. But this made me even more convinced that I was on the right path for my third daughter. We settled on the name Eliza. Her middle name is both my grandmother's and my wife's grandmother's middle name.