Baby name hobby marks half a century

Ruth MatthewsRUTH Matthews was on the verge of giving up recording Ballarat’s baby names.
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But when she realised 2015 would be her 50th year of compiling the monikers, she decided to “start off and see how things go”.

However, she has concerns her results are no longer a true picture of baby names due to social media trumping old-fashioned birth notices in The Courier.

“I can still record them but I think it’s starting to get past being accurate,” Mrs Matthews said.

The Mount Clear grandmother said official notices had dropped dramatically in the past three years, with only 556 recorded this year compared to 1135 in 2011.

It is also low in comparison with the boom years of 1517 babies listed in 1978 and 1309 in 2008.

“People put it on Facebook now,” Mrs Matthews said.

Mrs Matthews began collecting the names as a hobby in 1965 after the birth of her first child Rodney.

“It’s very different today than back then. There are no Marks, Peters, Stephens, Johns, Darrens now,” she said.

Depending on how busy she is, Mrs Matthews often collects The Courier’s birth notices for a week or two before sitting down to add them to the lists.

“But it doesn’t take me as long now as it used to,” she said.

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