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Top Baby Names From the Last 100 Years

Get ready to time travel! Here are the most popular baby names from each decade of the past century. Who knows, you might find something to recycle.
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Updated
August 30, 2021
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Baby names have changed quite a bit in the last 100 years. While some names have retained their popularity, other once-favorites have since been forgotten. If you’re looking to the past for some inspiration, take a peek at the popular baby names from each decade since the 1900s. Tucked away between the years, you might just find the perfect fit.

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Image: Thinkstock / The Bump

1900s

At the turn of the (last) century, baby names that today we deem traditional topped the charts—think: John, George and William for boys, and Mary, Margaret and Elizabeth for girls. These classics certainly have something about that, as they continue to be popular options more than 100 years later!

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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Image: 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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Image: Thinkstock / The Bump

1920s

The Roaring ‘20s saw a couple newcomers: Donald for boys, and Betty and Doris for girls. We’re just bummed Gatsby (or even Jay!) and Daisy didn’t make the top 10 lists.

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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Image: 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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Image: 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 debut 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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Image: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1950s

The ’50s—when bobby-soxers and greasers were most likely named James or Mary. Sadly, neither Sandy nor Danny made the lists.

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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Image: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1960s

The swinging ’60s were characterized by tumultuousness and change—but that didn’t really apply to baby names. Almost all of the top 10 names for boys remained unchanged, as did half of the names for girls.

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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Image: Shutterstock / The Bump

1980s

The 1980s saw big hair, leg warmers, Members Only jackets and the rise of the mega-hit names Ashley, Jessica, Daniel and Joshua.

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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Image: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

1990s

A decade of grunge, Beverly Hills, 90210 and the Spice Girls. Surprisingly, the names Kelly, Dylan or Victoria (as in Beckham) didn’t top the list—but Nicholas, Andrew, Emily and Megan did.

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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Image: Wikimedia Commons / The Bump

2000s

The new millennium arrived, and the age of Emma, Olivia and Ethan began.

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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Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

2010s

A decade that saw the rise of Katy Perry, the introduction of SpongeBob SquarePants, Harry Potter and Twilight and the technological takeover of Apple products. Interestingly, neither Edward nor Harry made the top 10.

Top 10 Boys’ Names:

  1. Noah
  2. Liam
  3. Jacob
  4. William
  5. Mason
  6. Ethan
  7. Michael
  8. Alexander
  9. James
  10. Elijah

Top 10 Girls’ Names:

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Sophia
  4. Isabella
  5. Ava
  6. Mia
  7. Abigail
  8. Emily
  9. Charlotte
  10. Madison

Still not sure you’ve found the right baby name? Browse hundreds more options with The Bump’s baby name lists.

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