Hannah gained the title of “official name expert” after receiving her PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley in 2013. She wrote her dissertation on naming and identity, but her interest in names goes back as long as she can remember. As a kid, she collected baby name books, drew up long lists of names for future children, and pored over the birth certificates of every Cabbage Patch Kid in Toys ‘R Us. As a graduate student, she spent the better part of five years analyzing American parents’ naming practices, reviewing data from Social Security Administration records as well as millions of California birth certificates, and conducting in-depth interviews with Bay Area families about how they chose their children’s names.
Since completing her PhD, Hannah has consulted many times with expectant friends, family, and colleagues, offering advice on everything from “what is the most androgynous name in the Top 1000 this year?” to “how popular is this name in my specific demographic group?” to “help! My favorite name is too popular!” In 2017, she decided to make her services available to the public through Ipseity.
Although Hannah has been thinking about names and naming for many years, it was a whole new experience for her to name her own child when she and her husband welcomed their daughter in 2016. The process of talking through their preferences and balancing the different goals for their child’s name convinced Hannah more than ever that every family’s journey to the right name is a special one.
Interested in learning more about Hannah’s academic research and findings? A page with that information is currently under construction!