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Popular Baby Names by Decade

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The Social Security Administration has compiled lists of the top 1,000 popular baby names by decade, and we have compiled the most popular baby names from each era to help you narrow down your choice.  Take a look at the most popular baby names from the 1900s on up to the present time to help you find the right name for your baby.

twin baby boys1900s Popular Baby Names

The first decade of the century offered these major events: The first tractor was introduced. Construction of the New York subway began. The first Nobel prizes were awarded. The Wright brothers flew a control-powered flight. Times Square held its first New Year’s Eve celebration. Einstein postulated E=mc2. Ford introduced the Model T. SOS became the standard radio distress symbol. The NCAAP was founded. The top 100 baby names included such zingers as Claude, Elmer, Hilda and Bernice, but these were the top five:

 

Boys         Girls

John            Mary
William       Helen
James         Margaret
George       Anna
Charles      Ruth

1910s Popular Baby Names

World War I was fought. The Boy Scouts of America was founded. The Titanic sank. The Federal Reserve Bank opened. The Bolshevik Revolution took place. The Spanish Flu killed tens of millions. The Panama Canal Treaty was signed. The first crossword puzzle was introduced. Names like Woodrow, Ethel and Agnes grew in popularity, but the winners didn’t change much:

Boys        Girls

John         Mary
William    Helen
James      Dorothy
Robert     Margaret
Joseph     Ruth

1920s Popular Baby Names

The nineteenth amendment gave women the right to vote. The first Miss America pageant was held. USSR was declared. Yankee Stadium opened. The Walt Disney Company was founded. The first winter Olympics was held. Stalin succeeded Lenin. The first Goodyear blimp flew. Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. Flappers pushed the envelope. The stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held. The 20s gave us names like Cecil, Vernon, Gladys and Gertrude, but there were still plenty of Johns and Marys.

Boys       Girls

Robert       Mary
John          Dorothy
James        Helen
William     Betty
Charles     Margaret

1930s Popular Baby Names

Pluto was discovered. Mahatma Gandhi led the Salt March. Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion. Nevada legalized gambling. Iraq gained independence from Britain. Adolf Hitler took over Germany. Alcatraz prison opened. Vaudeville ended. The Monopoly board game was introduced. The Hoover Dam was built. Edward III abdicated the throne for Mrs. Wallis Simpson. Oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. Gone with the Wind premiered. Names like Leo, Patsy and Wilma still couldn’t overtake the leaders:

Boys        Girls

Robert        Mary
James         Betty
John           Barbara
William      Shirley
Richard      Patricia

1940s Popular Baby Names

Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Mount Rushmore was completed. The Pentagon and Jefferson Memorial were dedicated. The bikini was introduced in Paris. The First General Assembly of the United Nations opened. Howdy Doody debuted on television. NATO was formed. Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. Francis and Frances moved up the charts, but Linda was the biggest mover:

Boys       Girls

James        Mary
Robert       Linda
John          Barbara
William     Patricia
Richard     Carol

1950s Popular Baby Names

I Love Lucy made its television debut. The Korean War ended. Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened. Elvis won a recording contract with RCA. The Soviets launched Sputnik 1, and the U.S. launched Explorer 1. Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Chess Championship at age 14. The first Barbie doll was sold. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the Union. Peggy, Connie, and Vicki were great names for bobby soxers, but Mary continued to beat ‘em all:

Boys        Girls

James        Mary
Michael     Linda
Robert       Patricia
John          Susan
David        Deborah

1960s Popular Baby Names

The Pill was approved for sale in the U.S. A kidney was successfully transplanted. The building of the Berlin Wall began. Johnny Carson debuted on The Tonight Show. Nelson Mandela was jailed. The Cuban Missile Crisis put the world in danger. Martin Luther King, Jr. announced, “I have a dream.” President Kennedy was assassinated. The U.S. Surgeon General warned about the dangers of smoking. The Beatles came to the U.S. The Ford Mustang was introduced. The author of this article was born. Kwanzaa was created. The first Super Bowl was played. Sesame Street came to television. The Gay Rights movement began in New York. The first man walked on the moon. Woodstock saw its share of Keiths, Nancys, and Donnas, but even more of these:

Boys         Girls

Michael       Lisa
David          Mary
John            Susan
James          Karen
Robert         Kimberly

1970s Popular Baby Names

Four students were killed at Kent State. John Lennon married Yoko Ono. The karaoke machine was invented. U.S. troops left Vietnam. The World Trade Center was dedicated. The Sydney Opera House opened. Richard Nixon resigned after Watergate. Muhammad Ali retired. The UPC bar code was introduced. Both Microsoft and Apple Computer were founded. The Concorde made its first commercial flight. Gary Gilmore was executed. The Star Wars movie became a box-office smash. New York City experienced a blackout. The first test-tube baby was born. Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq, and Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of Britain. Sony introduced the Walkman. For the first time this century, the names Mary and John were not in the top five:

Boys              Girls

Michael            Jennifer
Christopher     Amy
Jason               Melissa
David              Michelle
James              Kimberly

1980s Popular Baby Names

Mount St. Helens erupted. The Iran-Iraq war was fought. Prince Charles wed Lady Diana Spencer. The first IBM PC was introduced. The Space Shuttle was launched. The first cellular telephone network was launched. Calvin and Hobbes was published for the first time. Oprah Winfrey created her own talk show. The first nuclear disaster occurred in Chernobyl. The Exxon Valdez had a massive oil spill in Alaska. Michael Jackson ruled the pop charts. Rubik’s Cube puzzled the country. Along with big hair came names like Brittany, Crystal, Heather, Tiffany and these:

Boys                Girls

Michael           Jessica
Christopher    Jennifer
Matthew         Amanda
Joshua            Ashley
David             Sarah

1990s Popular Baby Names

The USSR dissolved. Operation Desert Storm drove Iraq from Kuwait. Kurt Cobain married Courtney Love. President Clinton signed NAFTA into law. The Eurotunnel opened between the UK and France. 168 people were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder. Netscape started the Internet stock market boom. NASA’s Pathfinder landed on Mars. Tiger Woods won the Masters. The Monica Lewinsky scandal embarrassed the White House. Google was launched. The world braced itself for Y2K. The names Brandon, Justin, Zachary, Amber, Alexis and Taylor made enormous leaps onto the charts, while these rose to the top:

Boys             Girls

Michael            Jessica
Christopher      Ashley
Matthew           Emily
Joshua              Sarah
Jacob               Samantha

2000s Popular Baby Names

Even though celebrities continue to introduce children named Apple, Bronx, and Pilot Inspektor, most Americans remain sane in their choices. Interestingly, five of today’s most popular names were in the top 100 in 1900. The top baby names of this decade – so far – are:

Boys           Girls

Jacob             Emily
Michael         Madison
Joshua           Emma
Matthew        Hannah
Andrew         Olivia

 

What are your predictions for the coming decades?


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Top Baby Names 2008

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