By Linda Rosenkrantz
Once a year, we like to stop and turn the calendar back a hundred years to see what parents were naming their babes a century ago and whether we might find some undiscovered treasures that, following the hundred-year rule, might be ready to be revived.
What was the world like in 1913? Trouble was fomenting abroad in the year preceding World War I, but in the US it was a time of new beginnings, with the election of Woodrow Wilson, the births of future Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, women marching to gain the vote– and, for better or worse, it was the year that saw the introduction of the Federal income tax, the first cigarette pack, stainless steel and the zipper.
Things were quiet at the top end of the baby name popularity list as well, headed by the expected classics for boys: John, William, James, Robert, Joseph, George, Charles, Edward, Frank and Thomas (not dissimilar to the royal baby list), while for the girls there were period favorites Mary (36,000+ of them), Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ruth, Mildred, Anna, Elizabeth, Frances and Marie. Of these Top 10 boys and girls, only William and Elizabeth survive on the current Top 10, with James and Joseph still in the Top 20.
Many of the girls names in the 1913 Top 25, though, are already on their path to revival: Frances, Alice, Evelyn, Florence, Rose, Lillian, Ruby and Josephine. For boys, Henry is the one that’s made the clearest comeback. Others, like, say, Flora, are also increasingly up for discussion.
One peculiarity: There are a surprising number of what we think of now as exclusively girls’ names in the boy column (Cleo, Laverne, Fay, Pearl, Alma), and vice versa, with females named Frank, Henry, Charles, Vernon, George, Louis and Paul. And, curiously, Foy, Coy and Loy were all on the boys’ list, and Willie was a Top 25 boy name.
Here are some names in the 1913 Top 1000 but not on the latest SS list, that might be ready to return. Some have been off for decades, others have dropped off more recently.
Familiar but Forgotten
Clyde (Top 70 name then)
Morris (Top 90 name then)
Woodrow (Top 60 name then, obviously influenced by the president)
Long-lost Nickname Names
Yes, there were the usual Annies and Jessies and Bessies and Nellies, but there were some others less expected:
More Unusual Names
Any names here you’d like to see come back?