I recently read an article likening the act of choosing a baby name to choosing produce in the grocery store. You want to find the 'freshest and most colorful' name that you can find at the time. There is such a strong tendency toward choosing 'trendy names' that we see more and more unique names registering each year. But there is something to be said for choosing a name that sounds good now, but will also sound just as good in 30 years. There is something to be said for the classy and the timeless.
Each year, the Social Security Administration compiles lists of the top 200 boy and girl names given to babies born that year. If you are searching for a classic name that has been historically popular, these lists will guide you in discovering and remembering some of the classics. Read- on for lists of the top three names for each gender across the decades and some extras thrown in just for fun!
Top 3 for boys: John, William, James (again) Top 3 for girls: Mary, Anna, Margaret While the boys' names remained the same, with a small decrease of 80,665 boys being named John, the girls saw a new member in their top three this decade: Margaret.
Top 3 for boys: John, William, James (yet again!)
Top 3 for girls: Mary, Helen, Margaret
Mary remains popular this decade, with 161,506 girls being given this name, while the popular boys names do not change again.
Top 3 for boys: John, William, James (the last decade we will see this trend)
Top 3 for girls: Mary, Helen, Dorothy
For 40 years, the most popular boys' names have remained the same. Girls names, change subtly, adding one new name to the bunch each year.
Top 3 for boys: Robert, John, James
Top 3 for girls: Mary, Dorothy, Helen
The 1920's finally bring us a new top name for the boys, introducing Robert, with 576,355 boys being given this name over the decade.
Top 3 for boys: Robert, James, John
Top 3 for girls: Mary, Betty, Barbara
We see a stronger shift in girls' names, as we introduce two new ones this decade. The boys see a shift in the popularity of two of the top 3.
Top 3 for boys: James, Michael, Robert
Top 3 for girls: Mary, Linda, Patricia
The 1950's is one of the last decades that the timeless names of the 1800's and early 1900's have strong presence. We will see many shifts in names over the following decades, which can be attributed to strong shifts in society.
Top 3 for boys: Michael, David, John
Top 3 for girls: Lisa, Mary, Susan
Michael was the most popular name in the 1960's, given to 833,343 boys born. Based on numbers, Lisa was seemingly less popular, being given to only 496,975 girls.
Overall, we see some repetition over the years. We see that timeless names span decades, and sometimes centuries. According to the Social Security Administration, here are the top names overall from the past 100 years:
So many choices. So many beautiful names. So much meaning. Timeless names sound just as good years beyond the day they are given at birth. Not ready to take the 'old-fashioned' plunge? Try balancing a trendy first name by pairing it with a timeless middle name!