Just another Jennifer

When the births of the so-called Generation Xers began and ended remains a subject of debate, but the range generally starts in the mid-‘60s and runs through the early ‘80s. The period when the name “Jennifer” reigned supreme as America’s favorite girls’ name covers about the same time frame. According to the Social Security Administration’s Baby Names data, Jennifer slowly crept up from obscurity beginning in 1938. It entered the Top 20 in 1965, and hit the No. 1 spot by 1970. There it stayed for 14 years.1 (If you want to know how common your name has been in America, visit the SSA’s Baby Names page. Under “Popularity of a Name,” enter yours and then select a timeframe. I chose “1900 and later.”)

I came along relatively early in the Jen/GenX years. I don’t know why all those other parents chose the name for their daughters, but my mother says mine was a compromise. She claims her first choice, Carrie, was nixed on the grounds that, combined with my last name (Sansbury), it sounded too sing-songy. The movie “The Summer of ‘42,” starring CoverGirl spokesmodel Jennifer O’Neill, had hit theaters just a few short months before I was born and made an impression on my parents. My middle name came from The Left Banke’s 1966 hit “Walk Away Renee.” I guess that makes me the namesake of a celebrity and a song.

Growing up, I got a kick out of telling the story of my pop culture-inspired name — especially because so many of my classmates didn’t know what, if anything, inspired theirs.

Do you have an interesting story about how you got your name? Please leave a comment and tell me about it!



1. Social Security Administration, “Popular Baby Names,” database,
(https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ : accessed 16 Jan 2018), Popularity of a Name search for Jennifer, 1900 and later.

7 thoughts on “Just another Jennifer

  1. My parents were dead sure I was to be a boy, after all they all ready had two girls. I was to be James and consequently went weeks without a name. When they finally settled on Jill, the priest wasn’t too happy as Jill is not the name of a saint! To pacify the priest my parents used Louise for my middle name,which is the female version of Louis, my father’s middle name. So in the end everyone was happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ricky Haynes says:

    Hey Jen, Sorry to just now be seeing your blog. I have a name story. Well actually an almost name story. I am a Junior, so we know where my name came from. I am called Ricky instead of Richard, but that’s not my story. I was told by my mother, that she wanted me to be named after my father, but he did not want that because he didn’t want me to be call “Junior.” So my mother said she threatened to name me “Homer Otto” instead. DOH!!! I have no idea where she got those names from but I am definitely thankful to be Ricky today. And not have gotten beat up a lot while growing up. 🙂

    Going to catch up on your blog now. Hope to see you again at a Genealogy event soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Genealogy is certainly an odyssey, so Homer may have foretold your destiny. And as it happens, I have a great-grandfather Otto, who will probably make an appearance on the blog one of these days! But I think Ricky suits you perfectly, so it all worked out OK!


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