Friday, May 14, 2004

More evidence of Southern Culture

The south is not the same as the rest of America, even today:

Old World tradition keeps William popular name in South

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — William has conquered the South.

William has become one of the most popular names for baby boys below the Mason-Dixon Line, ranking No. 1 in at least five states.

Naming experts attribute William's popularity to English ancestry and a strong sense of tradition in the South.

"It has been more popular in the South than the rest of the country for at least 10 years," said Cleveland Evans, a member of the American Name Society and a psychology professor at Bellevue University in Nebraska. "The William Belt is one of the most striking regional differences."

William ranked only 11th nationally among baby names for boys in 2003, but was No. 1 in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, according to the Social Security Administration.

It was No. 2 in North Carolina and Virginia, and No. 4 in Kentucky and Arkansas. Vermont was the only state outside the South to put William in the Top 5.

"Traditional boys' names will rank high in most Southern states, more so than Northern states," said Edward Callary, past president of the American Name Society. "Part of it is there is a longer tradition, and a lot of these are family names that are passed down from generation to generation."

From 1880 to 1920, William was second only to John — the most common male name of all time, according to Social Security statistics. But William slipped all the way to 23rd by 1996.

"I don't know why," Callary said. "I don't think Bill Clinton had anything to do with it, because he preferred to be called Bill."

Evans said Williams is popular among both whites and blacks, making it one of the few names that cross racial boundaries.