Category: Classic Baby Names
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.
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:
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?
It is with great sadness that we report the death of one of our most treasured contributors, K. M. Sheard. Kay ran the delightful website, Nook of Names, and was the author of a giant, encyclopedic compendium of name information, Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Names, which we have found to be an invaluable resource.
In tribute to the memory of Kay, here again is one of her characteristic Nameberry blogs–with its unique mix of scholarship and humor, first published in 2013.