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1914alice

At the beginning of the year, we like to flip back the calendar a hundred years to see what the baby name landscape looked like a century ago. 1914 was a year in which World War I was in full swing, the year that President Wilson officially established Mother’s Day, Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth made their debuts, and saw the births of Dylan Thomas, Jonas Salk and Joe DiMaggio.But the babyname universe was relatively calm, as we can see by looking at the stable top dozen girls’ names. Here, they are, in order of their 1914 popularity, and what their status is today:

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Woman with baby

If you were naming a baby in 1911, you certainly wouldn’t be thinking about the hottest baby name trends or what was cool or hip.  Ah, those were the days!

But it is interesting to look back and see what patterns were in evidence then, which names—some of them really surprising—have obeyed the hundred-year-rule and already made a comeback, now sounding completely modern, and what undiscovered treasures might be lurking in the list,.  (We do have to bear in mind that some near the bottom of the Top 1000 in 1911 were given to only around twenty babies, whereas on today’s list, due to the growth in population, the lowest name on the list belonged to 249 girls.)

The Top 10 on the 1911 boys’ list were the expected classics: John, William (the only one still standing in the current Top 10), James, George, Robert, Joseph, Charles, Frank, Edward and Thomas, while there was somewhat more period-related variety for the girls: Mary, Helen, Margaret, Dorothy, Ruth, Anna, Elizabeth, Mildred, Marie and Frances—none of which is in today’s Top 10—Elizabeth being the closest at Number 12.

This was still the heyday of flower and gem names, so we’re not surprised to see Rose, Ruby, Pearl, Daisy, Flora, Garnet, Iris, Jewel, Opal, Pansy, Lily and Violet all on the list.

Another trend in girls’ names was the use of three- and four-letter names ending in a and often beginning with a vowel– most of which (with the exception of Ava, Eva and Ada) have not reemerged and still feel a little musty.  These others include:

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