Do you know Sue T like I know Sue T?
If not, you can meet her at Omaha's Durham Museum. Until Sept. 8, the Durham is hosting “A T. Rex Named Sue,” about the largest Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered.
Sue is named after Susan “Sue” Hendrickson, the paleontologist who discovered the bones in South Dakota in 1990.
The names Susan and Susannah are English forms of the Hebrew shushannah, meaning “lily.”
The original Susanna is the heroine of “Susanna and the Elders.” For Roman Catholics, the story is part of the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament. Since the tale isn't found in the original Hebrew, Jewish and Protestant Bibles include it separately, in the Apocrypha.
In the story, two lecherous elders secretly observe beautiful young wife Susanna as she bathes. They reveal themselves and say they will claim they saw her committing adultery with a young man if she doesn't have sex with them.
Susanna refuses to be blackmailed. Her innocence is proved when the two elders, questioned separately, give different details in their stories.
Susanna's story was known in medieval times. A few English girls were named Susan as early as 1200. Families with the rare surnames Sussams and Sussands had medieval ancestors called Susan.
The name became popular in Renaissance times — partly because the story was a favorite with Renaissance painters as one of the few Bible passages featuring a naked woman.
When parish baptismal registers began in England in 1538, Susanna ranked 30th. It steadily increased until it was the seventh-most-popular girls name in the 1690s.
English colonists brought Susanna to America in the 17th century. By 1800, the shorter form Susan had become more common than Susanna as an official name. It was especially popular in the South, being a top 10 name for Southern girls at least until 1850.
After the 1860s, Susan went out of style. In the 1870 U.S. Census there were 288,784 Susans. In the 1940 census only 103,585 Susans were found.
An increased popularity of “Susie” as an official name accounted for some of that drop. In 1940 there were actually 105,675 Susies listed, a few more than the number of Susans.
Susie's great popularity in the early 20th century was helped by the song “If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie.” Written by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Meyer, it was a huge hit for Eddie Cantor in 1925 and remained popular for decades.
The 1930s saw an even more remarkable boom in “Sue.” There were 35,614 Americans with “Sue” as part of their given name in the 1930 Census. In 1940 that had almost tripled, to 113,615.
A lot of that increase was from the use of Sue as a middle name. Those 1940 Census Sues included 7,424 Mary Sues, 6,177 Betty Sues, 2,075 Carol Sues and 1,104 Peggy Sues, among others.
Buddy Holly's 1956 song “Peggy Sue” made that combination particularly famous. Francis Ford Coppola's 1986 fantasy time travel film “Peggy Sue Got Married” sends its middle-aged heroine (played by Kathleen Turner) back to her 1960 high school graduating class, cementing Peggy Sue's association with women born in the early 1940s.
Sue also was popular as a first name with Depression-era parents. In Social Security's annual baby name lists, Susan's lowest rank (230th) came in 1922, and Sue's (261st) in 1923. Sue's boom came first, though. Between 1929 and 1936, there were actually more Sues born than Susans.
The first year Susan beat Sue, 1937, was also the first time since 1887 it was back among the top 100 names. That same year Brooklyn-born model Edythe Marrenner went to Hollywood to become a star and renamed herself “Susan Hayward.”
The year before the baby boom officially began, 1945, was the first year Susan ranked in the top 10. Susan stayed there all through the baby boom, finally dropping below that mark in 1969.
More than 40,000 Susans were born each year between 1951 and 1959. Between 1957 and 1960 it ranked as the second-most-common girls name. Susan stayed among the top 100 names until 1984. As one of the most typical baby boomer names, Susan is today the name of many accomplished women. Actresses Susan Sarandon, Susan Dey, Susan Lucci and Susan Olsen have very different careers but are all well-known to their boomer contemporaries. Mystery novelist Sue Grafton was born as a Sue in 1940, at the height of Sue's use as an independent form.
Sue left the top thousand names for girls in 1985. The character Sue Ellen on TV's “Dallas” managed to reverse its decline a bit for only two years, in 1979 and 1980.
In 2012 Susan ranked only 839th, its lowest point ever.
Dinosaur discoverer Hendrickson was born in 1949. Baby boomers will hate to hear it, but Sue and Susan are probably thought of as “dinosaur” names to those younger than 20 today.
Still, Sue was as important in the world of names as T. rex was important in the world of dinosaurs, and has a much better chance of avoiding complete extinction.