Most Popular Baby Names, 1913 and 2013

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, May 15, 1913:  Doing nothing of any account.

baby.names

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t have much to say a hundred years ago today, I’m going to follow-up on some comments I got several days ago—

On May 10, I did a post about whether Grandma’s name was really Helena or Helen. The post got lots of comments—and several people mentioned that their grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s name also was Helena or Helen.

This got me thinking about popular baby names in 1913—and popular names a hundred years later in 2013.

According the Baby Center website, none of the ten most popular baby names in 1913 were in the top ten in 2013.

60 Responses

  1. I didn’t make the cut in either century :-).

  2. This is so interesting and fits well with my own post the other day. I have been wondering about names too. I think we may have slightly different lists in New Zealand but I have not looked carefully at the records,so cannot be sure.

  3. Hmm. I recognise the 1913 names more than the 2013. What does that make me?
    (Although this is mainly due to the fact that the grandparents and aunts / uncles names all appear on the 1913 list and – in those days – one had SO many aunts and uncles).

  4. I would have thought Emily would have been on both

  5. And I thought Sarah would have been on both lists. I see that Helen and Ruth are both on the 1913 list though. :)

    • This may provide support for the argument that my grandmother’s name was really Helen and that Helena was a nickname–though I don’t think that we’ll ever know for sure.

  6. So interesting!! I noticed that many of the 2013 girls’ names are so old-fashioned, yet none of them were on the 1913 list. And I’m totally shocked at Liam being the 2013 number one boys’ name – not in my circle of friends!
    This was a great idea for a post.

  7. I agree with Dianna. This was a great idea for a post.

    • I can’t take total credit for the idea. I got the idea from a comment on the post about whether Grandma’s name was really Helena or Helen.

  8. Those 1913 boys’ names sound like a lot of the ones I grew up with. My grandmother’s name was Marie, which is on your list above She was born in 1893. But a couple of years ago I discovered, nope, her name was really Maria Anna Elisabetha, not Marie. She died in 1975. I found out about 2009 what her real name was.

    • Names were so much more fluid years ago. Today it’s almost impossible to vary a name. A friend used to go by her middle name–but computers often won’t allow the use of an initial followed by the middle name. She finally gave up, and now uses her first name and middle initial for official purposes.

  9. The 1913 names are very familiar. I can easily think of relatives with the names. Although Jacob, Jack and Ella are on the 2013 list, these too were popular with older relatives.

  10. Both of my grandmothers are on the 1913 list (Helen and Anna). My name was on neither list although I wouldn’t expect to find it on the 2013 list. It’s funny how the popularity comes and goes and sometimes comes back again.

  11. There seems to be a trend back to traditional names at least in my neighbourhood. Names like Katherine, Elizabeth, even a Hazel and for boys Everett, Nathanial, etc. This after a long period of changing the spelling of many names. For example my daughter’s name is Michaela and I’ve seen it spelled like Makayla and other such variations.

    • Your comment makes me think about the spelling of my own name–Sheryl. When I was younger people always thought it was spelled with a “C”. I was glad when Sheryl Crow and Sheryl Sandberg became famous. Now people ask me whether my name is spelled with a C or a S.

  12. My dad was born in 1912, he was James.

  13. You can also check out the social security website. They have some great search feautures for tracking a name’s popularity.

  14. How very cool! I love those classic names – they simply never go out of style. I met a woman in the store the other day – she named her son “Everett”. I had an uncle Everett. Never thought I’d hear that name again!
    I’ve been reading from my smart phone – hard to get to your site to leave messages – something’s wrong with my home computer settings. So, for now, please know I’m reading – and understand if I hit the “like” button from my reader panel (I hate doing that).
    cheers to you and your wonderful posts!
    Sue

    • Thanks for the nice note. I’ve occasionally looked at the posts that I’ve done using a cell phone–and I know that it looks different than how it appears on a laptop. I try to format things–especially images– so they look okay on both; but I am still learning about how to make everything look good across devices.

  15. hmmm… the present generation in my immediate (extended) family we have Liam, Ethan, Jackson and Mia. From 100 years ago both my grandmothers are there… Marie and my maternal nana has TWO of the names… Elizabeth Mary :-)
    During my teaching career it would drive me “nuttso” the different spellings parent’s would give to quite ordinary names e.g. Kelli,Kellie, Kelley, Kelly, Kelleah, Keli :-( … I once have FIVE different spellings for the same name in one class. I claim that to be “teacher cruelty” ;-)

    • I can remember when I was in school. One year there were 4 Williams in my class. The teacher always insisted on calling each one by a different name–even though they all called themselves Bill. There was a William, a Bill, a Billy, and a Willy.

  16. Oh… I should have said that I LOVE unusual names but not unusual spellings.

  17. I feel so disconnected! I guess with my birth falling somewhere between these two lists, it’s not surprising that my name and the common names of my peers are just not that popular!

    Still, I remember in 3rd grade having two others with the same first name, one who also had the same middle name. Then the kid with my middle name as a first name had my first name as a middle name.

    At least, a yelling voice near a playground is not likely to be calling me!

    • I can remember lots of Davids who were classmates when I was in school. I bet that it was on the lists of most popular names for some of the middle years between the two lists.

  18. Hi. I think I see a trend toward literary names in the 2013 list. Emily and Charlotte especially. Jane

  19. My husband and I had some of the most popular names of the late 1970’s. We know what a curse that can be. We tried very hard to not pick a name for our son that was popular. Alas, there it is, #4 for 2013 (although ours does have an alternate spelling!).

  20. I KNEW Isabella (or even just “Bella”) would be on this list! I blame it on Twilight…
    -_-
    Interesting. Most of my siblings’ names are on the list, and I see my cousin’s baby’s name on there as well…my first and middle names are even both on there! #7…lucky number! :-P

    • It’s interesting how a character’s name in a movie, tv show, or book can affect the popularity of a name.

      • Yeah…maybe someday people will be naming their babies after MY book characters? :-D
        One can dream…

        • Dreaming is good. . . You have to be able to imagine something so that you can work to make it become a reality.

          I’m looking forward to reading your book someday. I bet it will be a best-seller. Pick awesome names for the characters. :)

  21. Sheryl, how fascinating reading about the popular names! My grandmas were born around this time–maybe a tad earlier–and their names were Leona and Leota. Neither is on this list!

    • It sounds like your great-grandparents didn’t go with the name fads of that era It’s amazing how similar your two grandmother’s names were–just one letter differentiates them. .

  22. HA, I see my hubbies first and second name in the 1913 lists. His parents were very very very retro. I always loved the name Olivia but never got to use it. Maybe a future pet that doesn’t come with a name. Since we always adopt rescues, they’ve always been named. Maybe I should get a fish?

    • I’ve also adopted pets. Both dogs already had a name which, like you, we kept. Sometimes I think that if a ever adopted another dog and didn’t really like it’s name that we should change it.

      • I think that’d be a good idea. I think they learn to come to the sound of your voice more than the acknowledgement of their name. Like the dog on the Simpsons…ha

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