From the Vaults: 1966's Top 10 Baby Names

Blog > From the Vaults: 1966's Top 10 Baby Names
Posted on: May 26th, 2017by Ruth Fitzpatrick

Yesterday we saw the ten most popular names from 25 years ago, and today we're looking even further back, to 1966. One thing we've definitely noticed going through the historic statistics is that while the same names keep on cropping up in the boys' lists, girls' names are very much affected by the fashion of the time.

The boys...

Michael Something we noticed looking through the statistics is that in the past parents seemed far more concerned with fitting in with the current naming trends. Take Michael: in 1966, nearly 80,000 baby boys were given this name. To put that into perspective, that's nearly as many babies as were named Noah, Liam, William, Mason and James - 2016's 5 most popular names - last year combined.

David Parents are still in love with this simple classic. A short biblical name that carries quite a punch, and which has plenty of historical and modern-day namesakes to draw from.

James Still one of America's favorite names, it remains a classy, timeless choice.

John With so many namesakes to choose from ' including, no doubt, many family members and ancestors - John is unlikely ever to disappear from American parents' short lists.

Robert Meaning 'bright fame', its brightest days might now be behind it. Like the similar sounding Albert and Herbert, Robert has rather fallen out of fashion, though Rob and Robbie still seem strong choices.

William Last year William was the 3rd most popular name in the US. The name of playwrights, princes, inventors and playwrights, this always popular name was nonetheless outdone by its trendy Irish brother, Liam, which appeared second on the SSA's list.

Mark Short, serious and to the point, Mark has all the hallmarks - pun intended - of a strong choice for any prospective parent. It has, however, been vastly outperformed in more recent times by the other New Testament authors: Matthew (#15), Luke (#29) and John (#28).

Richard Popular for a large chunk of the 20th century, it's hard to see Richard making a return any time soon. It isn't helped by its unfortunately and definitely tease-worthy diminutives, though the Spanish variant, Ricardo, might be a possible alternative to consider.

Jeffrey Today, it's perhaps a little too similar sounding to the bloodthirsty boy king's name, Joffrey. The name has long since peaked, but that's not to say it can't bounce back at some point in the future.

Thomas A good, strong, classic name with plenty of cultural and historic significance. And, of course, the name of a very polite and determined train!

... and the girls

Lisa After eight years on the top stop in the '60s, this name positively plummeted in popularity. Eliza, Alicia and Alyssa remain fairly popular with American parents, making its current pariah status (#833 in 2016) all the more perplexing.

Kimberly Showing that place names as given names are nothing new! Named for the South African town famous for its diamond mines, Kimberly could possibly see a return to favor: prospective parents really do 'dig' 'ly ending names right now.

Mary ' like other biblical names such as Esther and Ruth which have long had to bear the label of 'old woman name', Mary might be due a big comeback. It's a cross-cultural, cross-religious winner and beautiful in its simplicity. Although it's now stabilized around the #125 mark, we wouldn't be too surprised if we say a surge of popularity in the future.

Michelle Not even the Michelle Obama-effect seems able to save this name from sinking further down the rankings. Although far from extinct - last year more than 1500 Michelles were born - each year fewer and fewer parents are choosing it for their baby girls.

Karen There seems few reasons why Karen couldn't make a return to American nurseries, but at its current ranking of #504, it's very much an uphill battle. Caroline or Catherine are still far more likely to be chosen.

Susan Last year, fewer than 300 baby girls were named Susan. Meaning 'lily' in Hebrew, the 21st century unpopularity of this '60s flowerchild hardly seems fair! But it does go to show how quickly tastes can change, particularly with girls' names.

Patricia Parents wanting to commemorate their Celtic roots will probably gravitate toward Kennedy or Isla before they make a return to Patricia.

Tammy A name we can now probably announce as critically endangered if not outright extinct. Tammy hasn't appeared on the SSA's top 1000 list for nearly 2 decades.

Angela Angelina and Angelica sound more fashionable to the modern ear, but this serene name still has a lot going for it in its own right. It has an eclectic array of namesakes including German leader, Angela Merkel, and our personal favorite: Murder, She Wrote star and nonagenarian, Angela Lansbury.

Jennifer From 1970 to 1984, when the name topped the SSA's list, more than 850,000 Jennifers were born. It continued to appear in the top 20 until 1998, but since then, I think it's fair to say that America was suffering from Jennifer-fatigue. It is a beautiful name, and is likely to make a return once we've all had a breather!

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