My Daughter Elizabeth called me shortly before the birth of her second daughter. She wanted to give her new little one a middle name significant in our family history.
So, I combed my family tree and pored over old family group sheets, making a tally of the most commonly used names.
With Swedish and Swiss lines on the prominent branches of the family tree, I had an inkling what the answer might be.
Over the course of several days I settled on the name I had suspected at first: Anna.
Now my beautiful granddaughter’s name was complete. Zoe Anna.
I wish I’d had Baby Ancestry to use in that name hunt five years ago. A free app, Baby Ancestry scans your names in FamilySearch and produces a list of name suggestions. With Baby Ancestry, my research time would have plummeted from several hours to 30 seconds.
Baby Ancestry is available to anyone with a FamilySearch account. Go to the FamilySearch home page and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on App Gallery. You will be directed to a list of apps. Type Baby Ancestry into the search field. Make certain you capitalize Baby Ancestry because the app is case sensitive. To access the Baby Ancestry page, you will receive a prompt to log into your FamilySearch account. After you log in, Baby Ancestry will call up a list of the most popular names on your family tree. You can specify a list of girls names or boys names or a combined list.
The app verifies my earlier research. Anna heads the list by belonging to 14 ancestors, I clicked on the name and the app revealed the names of all 14. They range from my second great grandmother, Anna Geiger, (1846-1914), a Swiss immigrant who settled eventually in Montpelier, Idaho to Anna Rothenberger, (1751-deceased), my sixth great-grandmother who lived all her days in St. Gallen, Switzerland.
If you click on a name, you can call up information on that individual and view him or her on your FamilySearch tree. You can also click on the Behind the Name site. This feature offers information on a name’s popularity in different countries; related names such as nicknames and similar names; the famous people with the name; images of famous persons bearing the name; ratings of the name by Baby Ancestry users, and comments by Baby Ancestry users.
The app told me that Anna is the 44th most popular name is the United States but No. 1 in Austria. It’s also popular in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. In English-speaking countries, Anna is often translated as Ann or Anne, while some of my ancestors used Anna’s Swedish versions of Annika or Hanna.
Seventy-six percent of Baby Ancestry users think Anna is a “good name” and 97 percent of them describe it as feminine. Those who like Anna call it graceful, elegant and timeless. Of the 24 percent who don’t like the name, most label it boring or too commonplace.
One of the many notable Annas reported by the app is Eleanor Roosevelt. The First Lady’s first name was Anna, but she preferred to use her middle name. Perhaps the most famous literary character on the Anna list is Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
Other popular girls names in my family are Barbara (10), Elizabeth (9), Sarah (6), Magdalena (5), Margaretha (4), Susanna (4), Hanna (4), Elsbeth (3), Nancy (3), Elna (3), Bengta (3) and Katharina (3). My own name shows up once. When deciding on my name, my parents agreed they liked Angela but changed it to Angelyn because they wanted a more unusual name.
After exploring the app on my own, I tried it out with other family history consultants at my local stake family history center. We agreed it was easy to use and had fun discovering and comparing the most popular names on our family trees. However, the entertainment feature aside, we also decided the app would prove useful to prospective parents who, like my daughter, want to connect the generations by choosing a baby name that is noteworthy in their family history.
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