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Top baby names of the 1880s

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Written by Diane Ashoff   

While some folks will turn up their noses and call these "old people" names, we know better. Tons of the top names of today come from a hundred — or more — years ago. We took the Social Security Administration's archives back as far as they will go to bring you the top baby names of the 1880s.

The 1880s in the United States saw the height of the Gilded Age, a time wrought with economic prosperity and social turmoil. Five different men acted as president, more than any other decade in American history. Both James A. Garfield and Jesse James were assassinated.

During this decade, the Social Security Administration recorded just 2.5 million births. Compare that with the 2000s, which saw 41.5 million births, and you might find your head spinning. For this reason, names of the day were simple, no-nonsense. You didn't have to work hard to stand out from the pack, and the names reflected it.

Top 50 girl baby names of the 1880s


If you had the No. 1 name in the 1880s, your name was everywhere. Nearly seven percent of all baby girls born during this decade received the name Mary. To compare, three and a half percent of girls were given chart-topping Jennifer in the 1970s, and only one percent of girls in the 2000s had the top name Emily. This fact puts the fear of overpopularity in perspective!

  1. Mary
  2. Anna
  3. Emma
  4. Elizabeth
  5. Margaret
  6. Minnie
  7. Ida
  8. Bertha
  9. Clara
  10. Alice
  11. Annie
  12. Florence
  13. Bessie
  14. Grace
  15. Ethel
  16. Sarah
  17. Ella
  18. Martha
  19. Nellie
  20. Mabel
  21. Laura
  22. Carrie
  23. Cora
  24. Helen
  25. Maude
  26. Lillian
  27. Gertrude
  28. Rose
  29. Edna
  30. Pearl
  31. Edith
  32. Jennie
  33. Hattie
  34. Mattie
  35. Eva
  36. Julia
  37. Myrtle
  38. Louise
  39. Lillie
  40. Jessie
  41. Frances
  42. Catherine
  43. Lula
  44. Lena
  45. Marie
  46. Ada
  47. Josephine
  48. Fannie
  49. Lucy
  50. Dora

Top 50 boy baby names of the 1880s


Older names sound so refreshing on baby boys. If you share some of these choices before the birth, don't be surprised if people give you a little side eye. Most parents find that introducing people to the baby's name after the birth, when it is assigned and official, brings an entirely different response. Grandpa names suit baby boys so perfectly, you can't help but smile at a sweet young Harvey or Calvin.

  1. John
  2. William
  3. James
  4. George
  5. Charles
  6. Frank
  7. Joseph
  8. Henry
  9. Robert
  10. Thomas
  11. Edward
  12. Harry
  13. Walter
  14. Arthur
  15. Fred
  16. Albert
  17. Samuel
  18. Clarence
  19. Louis
  20. David
  21. Joe
  22. Charlie
  23. Richard
  24. Ernest
  25. Roy
  26. Will
  27. Andrew
  28. Jesse
  29. Oscar
  30. Willie
  31. Daniel
  32. Benjamin
  33. Carl
  34. Sam
  35. Alfred
  36. Earl
  37. Peter
  38. Elmer
  39. Frederick
  40. Howard
  41. Lewis
  42. Ralph
  43. Herbert
  44. Paul
  45. Lee
  46. Tom
  47. Herman
  48. Martin
  49. Jacob
  50. Michael

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Photo credit: Maria Pavlova/iStock/360/Getty Images

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