Pop culture’s influence runs deep, from the clothes we wear to the words we say. In fact, the names of many people in our lives are a testament to what was happening in the world at the time they were born.
Want proof? Check out the 1880 U.S. Census for free on Ancestry and search “Dewey” as a first name. You’ll come up with about 340. Fast forward to the 1900 census and you’ll find thousands of Deweys, many of them born in 1898 or 1899, following Admiral George Dewey’s defeat of the Spanish at Manila Bay.
Here are some more recent popular baby names that got a bump in the rankings thanks to pop culture.
In the 1960s, people were falling in love with a housewife/witch name Samantha. Bewitched was one of the most popular shows on television at the time and inspired many future parents when it came to naming their children. The name barely broke the top 1,000 names for girls in the late ’50s, then jumped to #472 in 1964 — the same year Bewitched premiered on ABC.
In 2000, the hit HBO series “Sex and the City” introduced Carrie’s latest boyfriend, Aidan Shaw. Prior to 1990, the name Aidan/Aiden had not even made the charts. However, between 2000 and 2010, the name rose to become the highest ranking male name of the decade.
Franklin, a technical term of the feudal system, was commonly a surname where the bearer was often a gentleman who ranked above many, but below knights and nobility. However, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933, the popularity as a first name took off, hitting #33 on the list.
While the name Elsa wasn’t foreign to the baby names top 1,000 list, the Disney juggernaut “Frozen” gave the name a significant bump. From 2013 to 2014, the name rose 34 percent in the rankings.
Twihards unite. The last name of the vampire heartthrob in the Twilight series, Cullen quickly became a trending first name for baby boys. When the Social Security Administration released their names data, the name Cullen jumped 297 spots from 2008 to 2009. Food for thought: Cullen is an Anglicized version of an Irish name and means “puppy.”
Do historic things, and your name can inspire the masses. The name Barack was down at #12,535 on the Social Security Administration’s ranking list in 2007. In one year, the name leaped a whopping 10,000 spots to #2,409.
Were your the names of your ancestors influenced by the pop culture of their time? Or are your family names deep-seated traditions? Start an Ancestry free trial today and begin building your family tree to see your own naming patterns and changes through the years. Or check out the meaning and history behind your last name with this fun and informative surname widget: just type in your last name to find out what it means, where you come from, and even how the life expectancy of people with your surname compares to the national average (you don’t have to look).