Names in the News: Badgett Quadruplets

Today, February 1st, 2019, the second set of surviving quadruplets in the United States turn 80 years old! The Badgett quadruplets, all girls. were born in Galveston, Texas in 1939. Doctors realized that their mom, Esther Badgett, was going to have a multiple birth, but no one was expecting four! The town of Galveston banded together to help out the Badgett family (who already had two daughters), by building them a new two-story house. The catch? They had to allow visitors in a few hours a day to take pictures with girls, who became national celebrities for awhile! One company even made them into paper dolls!

So let's discuss their names!

Jeannette- Jeannette is a French diminutive of Jean or Jeanne (French versions of John), meaning "God is gracious". In 1939, Jeannette with this spelling was ranked #184 and it last made its appearance on the top 1000 list in 1993. The Jeanette spelling with one n, was ranked #82 in 1939 (Jeanette's most popular year on the list) and last appeared in the top 1000 in 2002. Jeannette has not quite made it to revival territory, but I think it could get there some day, and I can certainly see Jeannette as a lovely old-fashioned middle name for a modern girl.

Jeraldine- The first thing that you might notice about Jeraldine's name is that it is not usually spelled with a J. I was surprised that this spelling did make the top 1000 for decades, being most popular in 1939, the year Jeraldine Badgett and her sisters were born, at #529. This spelling fell out of the top 1000 ten years later in 1949. The more conventional Geraldine spelling was at #41 in 1939 and was on the top 1000 list consistently until 1976. It has made a breif but surprisingly strong reappearance in 1988, 1989, and 1900, where it was found at #576, #777, and #951 in those respective years. Most recently, it made appearances in 2011 and 2012, where it was at #964 and #994. Is Geraldine due for a full-fledged revival along with other "grandma-chic" names such as the similar Josephine? Time will tell. There's no doubt, though, that Geraldine is a bold, strong name for a little girl, right down to its German meaning "ruler with a spear".

Joan- Joan is another feminine form of John, meaning "God is gracious", this time from an English origin. In 1939, Joan was #11, after having been a top ten name for nine years. The last year Joan was seen in the top 1000 was 1993 at #897. While the similar name Jane has made a decent comeback and currently sits at #282, Joan has not made it back onto the top 1000. Another similar name, Joanna, has held a steady place in the top 1000 since at least 1900. So what about Joan? Can she make a comeback? I actually see a lot of potential for Joan with parents who are looking for a strong, sensible name for their daughters with a lot of history and meaning behind it. 

Joyce- Joyce is a Latin name meaning "merry" or "joyous". You might notice its similarity to the word "rejoice". In 1939, Joyce was #12. It was never in the top 10, but it hovered just outside of it for several years. What surprised me about the name Joyce is that it has not left the top 1000 since 1900! In 2017, it was #836 and in 2016, it was #737. That might make it sound like its on its way out, but it has actually done quite a bit of bouncing up and down in recent decades. I'm glad that Joyce hasn't fallen completely out of favor. I think it could be worn by a modern girl quite nicely. Of course, the similar name Joy is much more popular at #336, but still by no means common.

Well, I'd like to wish a happy birthday to the three surviving Badgett quadruplets! Sadly Joan passed away in 2002 at age 63. If you would like to read more about the Badgett quadruplets story, you can do so here.

Which of these names do you think is most ripe for revival? If you had quadruplet girls, what would you name them? Bonus points if you can name them all with the same letter! Let me know in the comments!

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