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Vintage Baby Names: Testing the 100-year rule

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Check out our list of Vintage Baby Names.

In the world of baby names, there used to be something  called The Hundred Year Rule, based on the assumption that it took a full century for a name to shake off its dusty image and sound fresh again.  I use the past tense because this obviously doesn’t hold true anymore; like everything else, the process of name resuscitation has speeded up wildly.

So when we look at the popularity lists for a hundred years ago–1910– we see any number of names that have already popped back—names like Grace, Ruby, Emma, Ella, Violet, Sadie, Ruby, Isabel, Max, Oliver and Felix.

The question is, are there any names from a century ago that we’ve overlooked and are still worthy of re-evaluation?  Here are some you might consider, all in the Top Thou of 1910—although we do have to keep in mind that the US population then was about 30% of what it is now, so some of these names were attached to a very small number of babies.

GIRLS (starred names were in the Top 100 then; none of them appears on the current list)

ADELIA

*AGNES

AILI

ALBERTINE

AMALIA

ANTONIA

ARA

AURELIA

AVIS

BERNADINE

BETHEL

CELESTINE

COLETTA

CORDELIA

DELPHINE

DELTA

DOROTHEA

EASTER

ERIE

FLORRIE

GENEVA

*HATTIE

*INEZ

KITTY

LELIA

LOTTIE

LUCRETIA

*LULA

MAGNOLIA

*MAMIE

MAY

MINERVA

NELLA

NOVA

OCTAVIA

ODESSA

*OPAL

OPHELIA

OUIDA

PALMA

*PAULINE

POLLY

ROXIE

THEODORA

THORA

TILLIE

VERONA

VEVA

*VIOLA

WINIFRED

WINNIE

ZADIE

Probably not slated for return:

FAIRY

PINKIE

TINY

BOYS

 ABNER

AMBROSE

ARCHIBALD

AUGUSTINE

BASIL

BENEDICT

CASPER

*CHESTER

*CLAUDE

CLEMENT

CLEVE

*CLYDE

DORSEY

DOYLE

DUDLEY

*FLOYD

GROVER

HARDY

HIRAM

*HOMER

JARVIS

JUDSON

KERMIT

LEMON

LEMUEL

LIONEL

LONZO

LOYAL

LYLE

MACK

*MORRIS

NORRIS

OTTO

PERRY

RALEIGH

ROSCOE

RUFUS

SMITH

VALENTINE

*VERNON

VIRGIL

 

A few we don’t expect back:

BUCK

BUSTER

CURLEY

DOCK

NAPOLEON

ORA

OTHO

One interesting thing on this 1910 favorites list is the number of gender reversals.  In the girls’ column, we find:

CECIL

CHARLES

HENRY

IRA

LOUIS

ROBERT

THEO

And, even more dramatically, though there are no boys named Sue, there are boys—and enough of them to make the list—named the following, a few harking back to the time when they were male or unisex:

AGNES

ALICE

ANNIE

AUDREY

BEATRICE

BONNIE

DOROTHY

ELSIE

ETHEL

GLADYS

HAZEL

HELEN

IRENE

IVY

JEWEL

MARIE

MARTHA

MARY

PAULINE

THELMA

For more Vintage Baby Names, check out our list page.

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