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These Were the 20 Most Popular Baby Names Exactly 100 Years Ago

The leading names? John and Mary.
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Updated
Jan 2020
babies and moms posing on stoop for better baby contest in 1920s
Image: Minnesota Historical Society / Getty Images

If you’re expecting baby’s arrival this year, you may be searching for the perfect name. While the popular naming website Nameberry released its predictions for the hottest baby names of 2020 back in November, we thought we’d take a look back at the most popular baby names from a century ago—just in case there are any dusty gems worth reviving.

It’s no doubt that 1920 was a monumental year—at the start of the roaring 20s, not only was jazz on the rise, but women gained the right to vote nation-wide. But what about its baby names? According to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) baby name database, John and Mary were the leading names for boys and girls, respectively. Below, a look at the top 20 names for boys and girls from 1920 and how some of them have changed in rank over the last 100 years.

1920 Top 20 Boys’ Names

  1. John
  2. William
  3. Robert
  4. James
  5. Charles
  6. George
  7. Joseph
  8. Edward
  9. Frank
  10. Richard
  11. Thomas
  12. Harold
  13. Walter
  14. Paul
  15. Raymond
  16. Donald
  17. Henry
  18. Arthur
  19. Albert
  20. Jack

While John was the leading name in 1920, it’s popularity has steadily been decreasing since, according to the SSA’s database. In 2018, the name John ranked at 27th place. Meanwhile, Jack has seen a resurgence. Though the name ranked 20th in 1920, it saw a big decline—ranking at 179th place in the year 1989. However, it has since been on the rise again and came in at 28th place for 2018’s most popular boys’ names.

1920 Top 20 Girls’ Names

  1. Mary
  2. Dorothy
  3. Helen
  4. Margaret
  5. Ruth
  6. Mildred
  7. Virginia
  8. Elizabeth
  9. Frances
  10. Anna
  11. Betty
  12. Evelyn
  13. Marie
  14. Doris
  15. Alice
  16. Florence
  17. Irene
  18. Lillian
  19. Louise
  20. Rose

The leading name for girls has faced a similar decline. Though the name remained in the top five names for girls until 1968, it ranked 126th for most popular names for girls in 2018. The name Rose has seen a similar dip in popularity—it even dropped to 359th place for the year of 2003. But the name has since seen a small resurgence, coming in at 123rd for the year of 2018.

Looking for more baby name inspiration? Check out the most popular baby names of the past year and decade, as well as a no-stress guide to baby naming.

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