My family recently welcomed a new member, a baby girl. It got me to thinking about trends in baby names. (I'm not talking about Katniss or Ava or Layla or Chloe; we know about the unusual names these days.) I was curious about the most loved names of each period.
It turns out these have shifted over time. At the bottom of this post, I have listed the top 10 girls' names, according to Social Security reports, for each decade from the 1900s to the 2000s, plus the 2013 favorites.
Here are some changes I noticed:
1. "Mary" is so over. It was by far the most popular name, probably forever, then fell to second place in the 1960s and has not been in favor since then.
2. "Elizabeth," popular from 1900 through the 1910s, returned to the top10 in the 1980s and has stayed there. "Betty," a diminutive of Elizabeth, also was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
3. Many names trend for two or three decades and then become less popular. "Patricia" from the 1930s through the 1960s, "Margaret" from the 1900s through the 1930s. "Helen" from the 1900s through the 1920s. (I think "Helen" is a pretty name. I'm rooting for it to make a comeback.)
4. "Emily" has been cresting for almost 30 years, "Madison" and "Olivia" and "Isabella" for almost 20.
5. "Jane" and "Ann" don't show up at all. In the latter case, maybe "Ann" and "Anne" together would rate a mention. Same with "Catherine" -- "Katharine," "Kathryn," "Cathy" and "Kathy."
Actually, names do not matter. Once you know someone, the name attaches to that person's unique identity, and you cannot think of the name without associating it with the man or woman you know.
Perhaps Juliet (whose name did not make the rankings below) said it best in the Shakespearean play when she said to Romeo,
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;"
2013 2000s 1990s 1980s 1970s 1960s 1950s
Sophia Emily Jessica Jessica Jennifer Lisa Mary
Emma Madison Ashley Jennifer Amy Mary Linda
Olivia Emma Emily Amanda Melissa Susan Patricia
Isabella Olivia Sarah Ashley Michelle Karen Susan
Ava Hannah Samantha Sarah Kimberley Kimberley Deborah
Mia Abigail Amanda Stephanie Lisa Patricia Barbara
Emily Isabella Brittany Melissa Angela Linda Debra
Abigail Samantha Elizabeth Nicole Heather Donna Karen
Madison Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Stephanie Michelle Nancy
Elizabeth Ashley Megan Heather Nicole Cynthia Donna
1940s 1930s 1920s 1910s 1900s
Mary Mary Mary Mary Mary
Linda Betty Dorothy Helen Helen
Barbara Barbara Helen Dorothy Margaret
Patricia Shirley Betty Margaret Anna
Carol Patricia Margaret Ruth Ruth
Sandra Dorothy Ruth Mildred Elizabeth
Nancy Joan Virginia Anna Dorothy
Sharon Margaret Doris Elizabeth Mary
Judith Nancy Mildred Frances Florence
Susan Helen Frances Virginia Mildred