Whether it be pure coincidence or someone building on the ideas of someone else, I love this story.
Baby name data is very fun to work with. Since I have been thinking about this data over the past few months (Figure 1), I’ve had many ideas to explore but not enough time to do the work. Today I was inspired to do a little more work.
Work I Discovered Today
This morning I happened to come across this Tableau Public workbook that was just published yesterday. What I like so much about this is that the author(s) have taken the time to create a Tableau story that has some interesting findings. This workbook uses the same data I originally captured.
The authors have thought about how music, TV, and presidents have impacted naming. They have gone deeper into the data that I have, but they have verified some of the things I wrote about in my earlier articles, including naming diversity. They have created interactivity to this data that is thoughtful, fun and interesting. I really like it. For these reasons, I had to write this article.
The Story of Jett
It wasn’t the best birthday present I ever received, but I remember it well. On April 13, 1992, John Travolta had a son that he named Jett. On April 14, which was my 29th birthday, I remember hearing that he had named his son Jett (Figure 2).
I remember feeling both a little excited and deflated because John had found and used the best name ever for his son! I just knew that due to his personal popularity, the popularity of the name Jett would increase in the US.
Well, the reason that this wasn’t a great present for me was that I had hatched a plan a long time before 1992 to name my son Jett. In fact, his name would be Jett Black, which is fairly interesting. If you want to know how that happened, you can read this story I wrote back a few years ago. On one hand I didn’t want people to think I was copying Travolta when I named my son, but on the other hand I thought that the name Jett would be easier to own if it had some popularity behind it.
Well, the Jett Travolta story was a tragic one with elements to the story that are intriguing. Today I found a very interesting article that describes the situation and circumstances around his death. I did not know about these details before today but I do remember feeling really sad when I heard of his premature death. It is certainly very clear how much his family loved him based on the photos I have seen.
The Jett Name Popularity
Was I right, I thought? Did John Travolta have an impact on the popularity of the name Jett when he used it back in 1992? So to find out, I just used the Tableau workbook I mentioned earlier and Figure 3 shows the results.
In Figure 3, I was highlighting the year 1992, which is when Jett Travolta was born. The popularity of Jett was not very high and a total of 29 kids were born that year. In fact, for all the decades before that, the name Jett had never really gained much popularity.
Since 1992, however, there has been a very rapid increase in the popularity of the name Jett. Figure 4 shows the stats for 2011, the year when my son was born.
In 2011, there were 936 babies born with the name Jett, or a 31X increase (3,125%, from 1992 to 2011). I think it is very easy to conclude, now that we have visualized the data, that John Travolta had a profound influence on the popularity of the name Jett.
Every aspect of this story is true. I did name my son Jett when I was in the 6th grade. I just didn’t know it would take me 37 years to become his father (and that I’d have an awesome wife that would actually let me give him this cool name!).
On the day in early 2011 that I called my sister Dorothy to tell her the good news about Toni’s pregnancy, the first question she asked me was this: “Are you going to name him that?”. I said, “What?” She said, “Are you going to name him Jett?”. I said, “What, how did you know that?”. She said, “You have always talked about naming your son Jett, for as long as I can remember. You have never said anything else!”.
Well, that is it. Dorothy can verify this story. She knows I picked the name Jett when I was in 6th grade, long before the name became more popular. Thanks to John Travolta, the name is becoming more popular than ever. Thanks for reading.