10,000 baby names of Harvard

My 20th Harvard reunion book is in hand, offering a social snapshot of a certain educationally (and mostly financially) elite slice of the US population.

Here is what Harvard alums name their kids.  These are chosen by alphabetical order of surname from one segment of the book.  Most of these children are born between 2003 and the present.  They are grouped by family.

Molly, Danielle

Zachary, Zoe, Alex

Elias, Ella, Irena

Sawyer, Luke

Peyton, Aiden

Richard, Sonya

Grayson, Parker, Saya

Yoomi, Dae-il

Io, Pico, Daphne

Lucine, Mayri

Matthew, Christopher

Richard, Annalise, Ryan


Christopher, Sarah, Zachary, Claire

Shaiann, Zaccary

Alexandra, Victoria, Arianna, Madeline


Grace, Luke, Anna

William, Cecilia, Maya

Bode, Tyler

Daniel, Catherine

Alex, Gretchen

Nathan, Spencer, Benjamin

Ezekiel, Jesse

Matthew, Lauren, Ava, Nathan

Samuel, Katherine, Peter, Sophia

Ameri, Charles


Andrew, Zachary, Nathan

Alexander, Gabriella


Andrew, Nadia

Caroline, Elizabeth

Paul, Andrew

Shania, Tell, Delia

Saxon, Beatrix


Nathan, Lukas, Jacob

Noah, Haydn, Ellyson


Leonidas, Cyrus

Isabelle, Emma

Joseph, Theodore

Asha, Sophie, Tejas

Gabriela, Carlos, Sebastian

Brendan, Katherine


James, Seeger, Arden

Helena, Freya

Alexandra, Matthew


If you saw these names, would you be able to guess roughly what part of the culture they were drawn from?  Are there ways in which the distribution is plainly different from “standard” US naming practice?


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11 thoughts on “10,000 baby names of Harvard

  1. Richard Séguin says:

    A large percentage of these names are very traditional with no cute spelling variations. Had you not told us otherwise, I could have believed that this list of names came from my generation of the 1950s. Not many kids are named Richard now days.

  2. Dick Gross says:

    Jordan, I enjoy reading these reunion books as much as you do. But I think they give a skewed sample of the graduating class, as many alums (myself included) become tongue-tied when asked to describe their life experience. But I suppose that most are able to list the names of their children! Given the fact that about a quarter of the Harvard class is Jewish, I was surprised to see so few names taken from the Old Testament. Maybe people are living longer, and babies can’t be named after their (living) grandparents.

    What entry did you submit?

  3. JSE says:

    That’s pretty rich coming from a Jew named after a Pope!

  4. Idith Kisin says:

    Jordan: LOL.

    I note that none of these are showing the recent and annoying habit of people using last names as first names.

  5. valuevar says:

    To Dick Gross: I thought that “statistic” (originating, apparently, in Hillel) turned out to be doubtful? See Jordan’s earlier post on Unz’s work (#collapse) – apparently a weak point in it was to take those 20% or 25% claims at face value.

  6. Dick Gross says:

    Jordan, my name is Baruch, which my family translated into English as Benedict. Perhaps
    some of the early Popes had that Hebrew name too…

    Valuevar, no one knows the exact figures, as Harvard doesn’t keep them (as opposed to ethnic and gender categories). But I think the population of Harvard College has been over 20% Jewish since the days that President Lowell proposed a quota (to get the number down).

  7. valuevar says:

    I don’t doubt that it was once around 20% (under some broad, unspecified definition) or at least generally felt around 20%. However, Jordan earlier linked to a discussion that implied that such figures were outdated (and, if not, would show over-representation compared to current levels of achievement). Not my specialty – it’s just that non-rigorous statistics that stay in the popular consciousness long after they start losing their relation to current reality generally bug me, and this may be one of them.

  8. Julian Chu says:

    For what it’s worth, 13% of 15th Reunion survey respondents (n=461) and 12% of 20th Reunion survey respondents (n=357) reported their religious affiliation as Jewish.

  9. Julian Chu says:

    The kids’ names above that stick out to me are Shania and Delia. Anyone who read Freakonomics will know what I mean.

  10. JSE says:

    I haven’t read Freakonomics, so please explain!

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