Top Baby Names of the Century

Get ready to time-travel—here are the most popular baby names from each decade. Who knows, you might find something to recycle.
profile picture of Sarah Yang
BySarah Yang
Updated
Apr 2017
Cute little girl dressed in 1980s style outfit posing at the landromat.
11 slides
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Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

1900s

Say what? Mildred was in the top 10 girls’ names in the aughts? Does anyone even know a Mildred anymore (who’s not a grandma)?

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. George
5. Charles
6. Robert
7. Joseph
8. Frank
9. Edward
10. Thomas

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Helen
3. Margaret
4. Anna
5. Ruth
6. Elizabeth
7. Dorothy
8. Marie
9. Florence
10. Mildred

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1910s

No drastic changes in name trends in the 1910s — John and Mary still topped the lists. Classic and simple.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Robert
5. Joseph
6. George
7. Charles
8. Edward
9. Frank
10. Thomas

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Helen
3. Dorothy
4. Margaret
5. Ruth
6. Mildred
7. Anna
8. Elizabeth
9. Frances
10. Virginia

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Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

1920s

We’re just bummed Gatsby (or even Jay!) and Daisy didn’t make the top 10 lists in the Roaring ’20s.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Robert
2. John
3. James
4. William
5. Charles
6. George
7. Joseph
8. Richard
9. Edward
10. Donald

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Dorothy
3. Helen
4. Betty
5. Margaret
6. Ruth
7. Virginia
8. Doris
9. Mildred
10. Frances

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1930s

The girls’ list changed dramatically in the ’30s—Barbara, Shirley, Patricia, Joan and Nancy made their debuts in the top 10. Boys names not so much.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Robert
2. James
3. John
4. William
5. Richard
6. Charles
7. Donald
8. George
9. Thomas
10. Joseph

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Betty
3. Barbara
4. Shirley
5. Patricia
6. Dorothy
7. Joan
8. Margaret
9. Nancy
10. Helen

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1940s

A lot of important events happened in the ’40s: the invention of Velcro, Tupperware and the Frisbee, World War II and the rise of the name Michael in the top 10 boys’ list (it’s been in the top 10 every decade since!).

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. James
2. Robert
3. John
4. William
5. Richard
6. David
7. Charles
8. Thomas
9. Michael
10. Ronald

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Linda
3. Barbara
4. Patricia
5. Carol
6. Sandra
7. Nancy
8. Sharon
9. Judith
10. Susan

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1950s

The ’50s—when bobby-soxers and greasers were most likely named James or Mary. What about Sandy and Danny?

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. James
2. Michael
3. Robert
4. John
5. David
6. William
7. Richard
8. Thomas
9. Mark
10. Charles

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Mary
2. Linda
3. Patricia
4. Susan
5. Deborah
6. Barbara
7. Debra
8. Karen
9. Nancy
10. Donna

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1960s

The swinging ’60s were a mix of mod and psychedelic—we guess that didn’t really apply to baby names.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Michael
2. David
3. John
4. James
5. Robert
6. Mark
7. William
8. Richard
9. Thomas
10. Jeffrey

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1.  Lisa
2. Mary
3. Susan
4. Karen
5. Kimberly
6. Patricia
7. Linda
8. Donna
9. Michelle
10. Cynthia

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1970s

The ’70s—a big time for bell-bottoms, platform shoes and polyester, plus some radical changes in baby names. Hello, Jennifer and Christopher!

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Jason
4. David
5. James
6. John
7. Robert
8. Brian
9. William
10. Matthew

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Jennifer
2. Amy
3. Melissa
4. Michelle
5. Kimberly
6. Lisa
7. Angela
8. Heather
9. Stephanie
10. Nicole

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Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

1980s

The 1980s: big hair, leg warmers, Members Only jackets and the rise of the name Jessica.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Matthew
4. Joshua
5. David
6. James
7. Daniel
8. Robert
9. John
10. Joseph

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Jessica
2. Jennifer
3. Amanda
4. Ashley
5. Sarah
6. Stephanie
7. Melissa
8. Nicole
9. Elizabeth
10. Heather

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1990s

A decade of grunge, Beverly Hills, 90210 and the Spice Girls. Why didn’t the names Kelly, Dylan or Victoria (as in Beckham) top the list?

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Michael
2. Christopher
3. Matthew
4. Joshua
5. Jacob
6. Nicholas
7. Andrew
8. Daniel
9. Tyler
10. Joseph

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Jessica
2. Ashley
3. Emily
4. Sarah
5. Samantha
6. Amanda
7. Brittany
8. Elizabeth
9. Taylor
10. Megan

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

2000s

The new millennium and the age of Jacobs, Emilys and Isabellas.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:
1. Jacob
2. Michael
3. Joshua
4. Matthew
5. Daniel
6. Christopher
7. Andrew
8. Ethan
9. Joseph
10. William

Top 10 Girls’ Names:
1. Emily
2. Madison
3. Emma
4. Olivia
5. Hannah
6. Abigail
7. Isabella
8. Samantha
9. Elizabeth
10. Ashley

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