In researching my next newspaper column I've just come across a fact that really shocked me.
In the index to the 1850 United States census, the first to list all residents by first name, there are 132 people listed with the first name Doris. 80 of them (61%) were born in Germany! (One was born in Switzerland.)
Several of those not born in Germany were born to immigrant parents, and of the American born ones several seem to have been men named Darius or David where the indexer misread the record.
This sort of blows my mind because nowhere have I run across the idea that Doris was a name used in Germany in the early 19th century. One of the two German name dictionaries I own even implies that then name was originally "English." But this data seem to show that it was first well-used as a given name in Germany, not England or the USA.
I have looked briefly at the 1860 census -- a lot more of the records in that census refer to specific parts of Germany as birthplaces, and a very large number of the German-born women living in the USA in 1860 are said to have been born in Hanover. Mecklenburg and Holstein are also found -- so most of these women seem to be from northern Germany.
Are there any German name experts reading this list who can give me any idea as to how Doris came to be frequently used as a given name in northern Germany during or before the early 19th century?