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50s boys' names

By Kara Cavazos, The Art of Naming

Let’s take another look at the past! The year 1950 was smack dab in the middle of the century. Babies born that year will celebrate their 65th birthday this year. Many of them are grandparents now and may even be lending their own names to their grandchildren.

The most popular boy names in 1950 were James, Robert, John, Michael and David. How did these names rank 63 years later in 2013? Well, most of them are classics that don’t fade very far down the charts. In fact, James, Michael and David are still in the Top 20 today. Here’s how the 1950’s Top 25 names rank in 2013:

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top 10 girls

By Linda Rosenkrantz

When you hear the phrase ‘Top 10 girls’ name,’ you might tend to think of classics like Mary and Elizabeth, or later long-running favorites Jennifer and Jessica, or the current Sophia.  But it certainly wouldn’t be Bertha—which in fact was in that golden group for twelve years– or Mildred, up there for close to a quarter of a century.

I became curious about what became of these once mega-popular appellations, whose top positions lasted from 37 years to being one-time-wonders (bearing in mind that they well might have been top-ranked for years before the SSA started keeping figures in 1880), particularly those that were once in the Top 10 but now reside outside the Top 500, thus eliminating evergreens like, yes, Mary and Elizabeth that have retained their popularity. You might find a few surprises here–unless you’ve known a lot of Tammys and Tracys in your life.

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1950s baby names

By Kara Cavazos of The Art of Naming

The baby girls who were born in 1950 are now grandmothers. They will turn 65 this year! It is safe to say, though, that a lot of their first names may not be getting passed down to their grand-daughters at the same rate that grandpa’s name is probably being given to the boys.

While the boys have some solid classics on their side –even their more dated options like Jerry are well-used today– the girl names have not survived the test of time as well. Take a look at how the top girl names of 1950 rank then and now and see if you don’t agree:

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The Timeless + Timely Baby Name Formula

timeless baby names

By Kara Blakley

As an art historian, my friends and family often like to teasingly debate what I consider to be art, and what not. While that is a discussion in its own right, one of my criteria for considering whether something is ‘art’ is if it holds to the standard that it is both of its own time, and transcendent of time.

I think that this guideline translates well in the baby naming world as well. The historian in me is also cautious towards names that will sound dated when the child grows up: it is not difficult to guess in which decade Shirley or Stephanie was born. But on the other hand, so-called timeless names, like William and Elizabeth, can fall flat aesthetically, not speaking to a person’s creative urges. While many parents don’t want to choose a name that sounds or will sound dated, they also want something unique. How does one reconcile these two seemingly contrasting goals?

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nursery rhyme names

With their lilting rhythms and catchy rhymes, nursery rhymes have delighted successive generations of children since the first publication of Mother Goose in the 1700s—though the original meanings, some of them political, have been lost. (Who knew that ‘Ring Around a Rosy’ referred to the Great Plague of 1665?) The names used very much reflected the small stockpot of those in current use —so a preponderance of Marys, Sallys, Bettys, Jacks, Georgies, Peters, Toms and Tommys, Billys and Willies–but there were a few more original names, and here are a dozen of the best.

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