Monday, February 15, 2016

First Lady Names

Laura Worthington via You Work for Them
Today is President's Day in the U.S., so to honor the holiday, I thought we'd take a look at some noteworthy names of First Ladies. I picked ten I wanted to talk about, but there are obviously so many more I didn't cover. What is your favorite first lady inspired name?

Bird: Lady Bird Johnson 
Lady Bird Johnson, born Claudia Alta, was the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. She has perhaps the most unusual monikers out of all the First Ladies, a combination of her childhood nickname (Lady) and affectionate pet name (Bird). Bird makes quite a charming nature name, perfect for the middle position. Alternatively, make it the first name and use the nickname Birdie. 

Bess: Bess Truman
Bess Truman, wife of Harry S. Truman, was born Elizabeth Virginia. She was supposedly called Bessie during her childhood, as a nickname for Elizabeth. I can definitely see Bess coming back in style, especially when used as a short form for Elizabeth. Bessie, however, still reads "cow."

Dolley: Dolley Madison
James Madison's wife Dolley Madison has quite a mysterious name. Some have suggested that she was born Dorothea, others claim Dorothy, and some, just Dolley. The spelling of her name has also been the object of confusion, as documents vary between Dolley, Dolly, and even Dollie. Nowadays Dolley might hold too much baggage with the Dolly Parton association, but nevertheless, she's a sweet retro nickname.

Florence: Florence Harding
Florence Harding, wife of Warren G. Harding, was born Florence Mabel (what a combo!). She has a spectacular name that hasn't quite come into favor yet, despite similar -or- names like Cora and Nora rising in popularity.

Ida: Ida McKinley
Ida McKinley (no middle name) was the wife of President William McKinley. Her name, like many German names is very strong. With short, ends-in-a names being so in vogue, I'd like to see Ida back in the top 1000. 

Letitia: Letitia Tyler
Letitia Tyler was married to President John Tyler, who was first the Vice-President, and then the President of the United States. She vanished from the top 1000 in 1982, although she never broke the top 500. In this day and age, the similar Lettice or Lettie might be more favorable. 

Lou: Lou Hoover
Herbert Hoover's wife Lou was born simply Lou. Nowadays people assume a girl called Lou has a fuller name (Louisa, Lucy, maybe), but back in the late 1800s, this wasn't the case. I love the idea of using just Lou as a first name, but I know many of you won't agree with me. 

Lucretia: Lucretia Garfield
Lucretia Garfield, First Lady to James Garfield's President, was called Crete by those who were close to her. She dropped from the top 1000 in the late '70s, but like Letitia, never made it into the top 500. She might seem a little futsy to modern parents, but I think she's a fun way to get to Lu, Lulu, and the like.

Mamie: Mamie Eisenhower
Mamie Eisenhower was the wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. She was named Mamie Geneva, after the song Lovely Lake Geneva. Normally Mamie is considered a nickname for Margaret or Mary, but it's not extremely uncommon to see her as a given name. Mamie fits in with all the retro revivals of today, but is not likely to crack the top 1000 anytime soon, so go ahead and use her. Fun fact: Mamie Eisenhower had a sister named Mabel Frances who was called Mike.

Martha: Martha Washington
Martha Washington was the very first of the First Ladies to ever serve the United States. She did not have a middle name--Martha was born in 1731, where it was common practice to not give daughters middle names, since their maiden name would move to that position once they got married. Martha has been on a steady decline ever since the mid-century, but never made it out of the top 1000. I'm hopeful such a timeless name will begin to pick up steam soon.

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