Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his September 12th column, he looks at the history of the name Carrie.
Carrie is a pet form of Caroline. That feminine form of Charles (Germanic “a man”) was introduced to England by Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737), Queen Consort of King George II. Its use soared in 1820 when her great-grandson George IV unsuccessfully tried to divorce his wife Caroline of Brunswick (1768-1821), making her a tragic heroine to Americans.
The 1850 U.S. Census, the first listing all residents by name, includes 123,617 Carolines and 152 Carries. Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) led the fight for women’s suffrage and founded the League of Women Voters in 1920, becoming as famous as Carry A. Nation. Both, however, helped give Carrie an elderly image after 1900. It fell off as a baby name, bottoming out at 241st in 1950.
Carrie began booming again in the 1960s, about a generation earlier than expected. It was seen as an alternative for Karen, and also was helped by Kerry and Kari. Kerry, an Irish place name and surname, and Kari, a Norwegian form of Katherine, have different origins than Carrie. Most Americans, though, pronounce all three the same.