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Category: 20th century names

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By Arika Okrent

Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon. Thanks to Arika for permission to reprint this article from The Week.

Like a lot of people, I was entranced recently by this animated map of the most popular baby names for girls by state over the past 52 years. It shows how the country shifted from Mary to Lisa before giving over completely to Jennifer, after which the Jessica/Ashley and Emily/Emma battles eventually resolved into the current dominance of Sophia. The map was created by Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin using baby name data from the Social Security Administration. The SSA website gives the top 1,000 boy and girl names (as reported on social security card applications) for each year from 1880 onward.

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Vintage Baby Names: What’s your era?

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VINTAGE NAMES: What era are you?

Unless you’re a baby namer focused on finding a newly created or cutting-edge name, chances are you’ve considered using one from the past.  But which part of the past?  An ancient name or one from earlier in the 20th century?

So, the question of the week is: Which of these, if any, are you partiularly attracted to?

Needless to say, many if not most names move across time and are rarely connected to only one decade or even era–future berries just  might think of  Atticus as a 2010s name.

How about you?  Is there one period whose names you are drawn to?  Do you have a favorite vintage name—perhaps one that hasn’t been widely rediscovered?

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