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Vintage Girls’ Names: How To Find A Cool Old Name

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Do you want a vintage name for your daughter but are hoping to uncover a hidden treasure from the past?  We combed the popularity lists in search of cool vintage names you may not have heard before.

We’ve written a lot about the names of 1910 that are coming back, thanks to the Hundred Year Rule: Alice and Florence, Lillian and Hazel and Ruby.

But what about the names in the Top 1000 of 1910 that are virtually unknown now? A hundred years ago, Helen was the number 2 name for girls, right behind Mary. Mildred was number 8, Ethel number 13, and the dubious Gladys hot on her heels at 15. You don’t meet many Ethels and Gladyses (Gladysi?) anymore outside the nursing home.

And I’ve never heard of a Ceola, Ozella, or Exie, yet those names and dozens of others now lost were in the 1910 Top 1000.

Several months ago we looked at the Lost Names of 1880, and were surprised by how many there were. We declare ourselves surprised anew by how many lost names we’ve located on the 1910 roster that are different from those we listed in the 1880 story.

The first group are not lost, exactly, as they’re still heard from time to time. A few — Blanche, Lula, Viola — may even make a comeback. But most of these names, popular in 1910, have been in mothballs for decades now and may never make it out.

The second group are names that have already slipped under the surface. While I’m certain that some of you knowledgeable berries will protest about the visibility or viability of a handful of these names, most seem to me to no longer be part of the basic American name lexicon. Your opinions on exceptions welcome.

I want to note that several of these names seem like quasi-names, a group we singled out in the 1880 story. We include here choices not included there — Alta, Elva, Lera, Rilla — and there are enough of these name snippets to assume it was still a trend in 1910….though it is not today.

And then there are the lost nickname-names, epidemic in 1880 and still raging in 1910. We listed a lot of those names in the 1880 story and didn’t want to repeat, but here are several that were hot in 1910 and are rarely heard now, though we think Addie is an American Girl doll.

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