Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fearless Females Blog Post: March 3 ~ What’s In My Name?

I have always believed that my parents did a darn good job at naming their four children. They even managed to add a couple of “y”s just to be different.

For instance, they put a “y” in my middle name, Gayle, and a “y” in my sister Robyn’s name. My sister Laura was named for the 1944 classic film by that name, starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews, and/or the song written by Johnny Mercer from that film.  My brother, Howard Ross, was named for both of our grandfathers.

Pamela was a very popular female first name in the 1950’s. Along with all those Patricias, Deborahs, Karens, and Donnas, the Pamelas abounded during my school years. I probably had half a dozen friends growing up who were named Pamela. It was sometimes hard to keep track of them all, and so we always were distinguishing one from another by using our last names in conversation.  By contrast, you almost never hear of a baby girl being named Pamela these days.

Apparently, the name Pamela was invented in the late 16th century by the poet Sir Philip Sidney for use in his poem “Arcadia.”  Perhaps he wanted to combine two Greek words for “sweet” and “honey.” It was later used by the 18th-century novelist Samuel Richardson for his heroine in Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded.

I have found a couple of uses of variants of Pamela in researching my family tree:

Pamelia Lovell (1834-1904) was my 3rd great grand aunt.
Parmelia Stetson (1826-1904) was the sister-in-law of a half 1st great grand aunt

Lisa Alzo of  The Accidental Genealogist blog is presenting her Fearless Females: 31 Blogging Prompts to Celebrate Women’s History Month series in honor of National Women’s History Month.


  1. Very interesting. It's really neat that the birth certificate includes a photo.

  2. I don't have many Pamelas in my tree, but I do have a lot of Parmelias. I always thought this was a corruption of Pamela, maybe the Yankee accent version? I see a lot of Hanners, Edners, and Desiahs in cemeteries nearby.