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The Baby Name Class of 1915

vintage baby names

By Pamela Redmond Satran

At the start of 2015, it’s interesting to look back a hundred years to see what was happening in the world of baby names.

The Baby Name Class of 1915 included several choices that are once again stylish: Evelyn, Alice, Florence, Lillian, and Rose for girls; William, James, Walter, Henry, and Harry for boys.

Other names in the 1915 Top 20 are starting to be rediscovered, notably Frances and Louise for girls, Raymond and Arthur for boys.

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What Names Are Ripe for Revival?

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You know who are the biggest berries of all?  That’s right, me and LindaEven if we didn’t work here, we’d probably spend all our time obsessively tooling around the site.

And though we wrote all the name entries ourselves, we’re constantly re-encountering names that we maybe kinda forgot existed and now appreciate anew.  Wow, we think.  That’s a cool one.  Wonder if it will ever come back?

This just happened to me with the name Cyrilla.  The boys’ equivalent Cyril is handsome if a bit effete for the modern world, though it may get rediscovered thanks to the revival of the similar Cyrus and Silas. But what about Cyrilla? That’s a cool old name that’s at once exotic and familiar, highly unusual — there were NO girls named Cyrilla recorded on the most recent Social Security list — yet not invented. Besides being the feminine form of the Latin Cyril, it’s also a botanical name for flowering plant found throughout the tropics.

So I nominate Cyrilla as a name that’s ripe for revival. What are some old names you think might become new again?

Photo of antique doll from Kathy Libraty’s Antiques at Ruby Lane.

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girl baby names

by Ren Williams

Many of the stories about the recent US Popular Names list focus on the names at the top and on the rise: the Sophias and Jacobs, Khaleesis and Jayceons of the baby name world.

But, just as some names go up, others must come down. The following 20 girls’ names fell out of the Top 1000 in 2013, some of them perhaps just taking a nap, others on a long slide toward obsolescence.

Abbie and Abbey

Both of these short forms for Abigail sank even as the original remains in the Top 10. The venerable Abbie has been more popular over the decades than Abigail herself, spending only 35 years outside the Top 1000 since the list’s inception in 1880, compared with Abigail’s 43. Abbey, the younger of the sisters, entered the rankings in 1978 where it remained until this year.

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vintage nicknames

By Pamela Redmond Satran

Nickname-names still appear on birth certificates.  In the U.S., such names as Ellie, Abby, and Charlie for girls; Jake, Jack, and Johnny for boys all rank high.  In the U.K., nickname-names are even more fashionable, with Evie, Maisie, Millie, and Ellie in the Top 35 for girls, and Jack, Charlie, and Alfie in the boys’ Top 10.

But there are generations of nickname-names that have fallen off the Top 1000, yet sound cute and baby-ready today.  The list here is drawn from names that were on the Social Security roster on their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but fell off by the early 1970s (the date of their last listing follows the name) and haven’t yet reappeared.

Whether you choose to use Bea or Mamie, Clem or Zeb as full names or as diminutives for Beatrice or Marietta, Clement or Zebediah, any of these nickname-names would make charming choices.

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1913b

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 MarieOf 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.

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