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1950s Girls’ Names: Where are Sharon and Sandra now?

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By Kara Cavazos of The Art of Naming

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:

Girls:            
Linda
Mary
Patricia
Barbara
Susan
Nancy
Deborah
Sandra
Carol
Kathleen
Sharon
Karen
Donna
Brenda
Margaret
Diane
Pamela
Janet
Shirley
Carolyn
Judith
Janice
Cynthia
Elizabeth
Judy
1950:    
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
2013:                       
643
121
680
838
844
689
814
766
1617
664
882
416
1340
634
181
1841
1189
1253
1336
791
996
1270
499
10
1450

How many baby girls do you know with these names? Notice how eight of the above names from 1950 have completely fallen off the Top 1000 chart in 2013.  The names that still made the cut mostly rank in the lower half of the chart except for Elizabeth, Mary, Margaret, Karen and Cynthia. Compare that to the Top 25 boy names of 1950 and you’ll see that all of the boy names still ranked above 600.

Why is it so different for girls? Fashions seem to change faster for girls than they do for boys making many of these girl names feel somewhat “dated” as a result.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the Top 1000 from 1950 and see which of those may be back on the rise today. I went through the list and picked out one name per 100 names that are either fashionable again today or that I think deserve to be used more. If you’d like to play along too, head over to the SSA’s website and pick out your Top 10 names from the 1950 chart and post them in the comment section below!

#57 – Alice
This happens to be my grandmother’s middle name so I tend to like it.  It seems as though I’m not alone in that since it is on its way up the charts! It ranked very well from 1880 through the 1960s but declined a bit in usage after that. In the past 5five years or so, Alice has become fashionable again. It ranked at Number 107 in 2013 and I think it’ll break back into the Top 100 soon.

#178 –  Clara
This lovely vintage choice was once a Top 20 name in the 1880s and 1890s. By the 1950s it was heading down the charts. It wasn’t until the 2000s that parents began to find this name stylish again. Clara ranked at Number 131 in 2013. I think it’ll continue to gain popularity in the near future!

#219 – Hazel 
This spunky, vintage name seems to be a new favorite lately. It ranked in the Top 100 for years in the distant past, but most recently, it has spent time outside the Top 1000, only returning in 1998.  Now in 2013, it’s inching its way toward the Top 100 again with a ranking of #157. It seems posed to continue climbing higher and higher!

#342 – Eloise
This is another name that is making quite the splash! In just 6 years, this name has gone from ranking beyond the Top 1000 to reaching #338 in 2013. That’s impressive since it hadn’t been in the Top 1000 at all since 1965. This is one to keep an eye on!

#458 – Sadie
If you’re familiar with chart movements, you might have heard that Sadie made quite the impressive leap this year. It ranked down at #458 in 1950 and fell out of the Top 1000 for a while in the 60s and 70s. In the past couple decades, though, Sadie has become a favorite. It jumped from #119 in 2012 to #50 in 2013. I think it could be headed for the Top 10 soon!

#547 – Mabel
This is a name that I’m excited to see used. It was very popular from the 1880s through the 1930s but began declining in usage. By 1950, it was down to Number 547. It dropped out of the Top 1000 in 1965 and stayed out until 2013! It now ranks at Number 707 and I’d be thrilled to see it gain even more popularity! It’s one of my new favorites.

#659 – Leila
My great grandmother’s name has always had decent usage but it has gradually declined over the years until the 2000s started and parents started to fall in love with it again. A lovely, vintage name that is now fashionable again, Leila ranked at Number 215 in 2013. I’d like to see it continue to inch its way up the chart!

#752 – Delilah 
This biblical moniker belonged to a woman who could be described as “a dangerous temptress” who caused Samson‘s downfall. Despite this, Delilah‘s popularity as a name has boomed lately! Having never been popular before, it has been experiencing quite a bit of usage since the mid-2000s. It has climbed its way up to Number 135 in 2013 and will probably keep going! Would you use it?

#823 – Adeline 
I can’t help but love this name lately. Many parents seem to agree but they’re using variants like Adelyn a little bit more. This sweet name did well around 1918 but quickly declined in usage. In 1950 it ranked down at #823. In the late 1990s, parents rediscovered it and it has climbed straight up the charts again. It has reached Number 232 in 2013 and will probably continue upward!

#910 – Margot
This is a name to watch! It has been around in the US since 1894 and it has never been popular but I think that could change soon. It might just be the latest undiscovered gem that everyone discovers at once. It hadn’t been in the Top 1000 since 1966, but as of 2013, it has popped on the chart at Number 944. I imagine it will be making waves toward the top soon!

All of these names that I’ve highlighted here have the same vintage-but-fresh vibe going on. They’re all old-fashioned names that have circled back around to being fashionable again. They belong to a similar “style” of names. Which of these names do you expect to be the next big thing first? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Kara Cavazos, a mother of two, offers information and advice at her blog, The Art of Naming, where this post originally appeared.

 

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About the author

karacavazos

Kara Cavazos is a mother of two, a blogger and a baby name enthusiast. She loves ancient and vintage names most of all but she regularly features a variety of names on her blog The Art of Naming.
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12 Responses to “1950s Girls’ Names: Where are Sharon and Sandra now?”

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lesliemarion Says:

February 15th, 2015 at 1:10 am

Great blog!

I’m 52 and my parents are in their early 70’s, so these names are a mixture of my generation and theirs.

For years I did not like most of these names, which seemed blah, but recently I have grown quite fond of them.

Some I like just as they are: Patricia, Barbara, Nancy, Deborah, Sandra, Carol, Donna, Brenda, Shirley, Carolyn.

Others I like slightly altered versions: Belinda instead of Linda, Sue instead of Susan, Cathleen instead of Kathleen.

One of the reasons I didn’t used to like these names is their nicknames: Patty, Barbie, Debbie, Sandy, Kathy, etc. I still don’t like those!

And of course one of the reasons I have grown to love so many is the associations I have with increasingly precious older women: my mom is Sandra, my aunt is Carol, my mom’s cousin is Shirley.

And finally part of their appeal stems from them sounding more real and strong and interesting to me than so many of today’s girl names: the endless Kaylas and Laylas, the interminable Katelyns and Caitlins, the misspelled names full of apostrophes, the silly names. Shirley may be quaint, but it ain’t weird!

The_Supernatural_Hufflepuff Says:

February 15th, 2015 at 1:39 am

My top ten favorite names from 1950 are:
#78 Sally
#153 Georgia
#213 Maxine
#323 Darla
#464 Dorothea
#537 Estelle or #507 Willa
#651 Dollie
#742 Evangeline
#827 Abigail or #869 Twyla
#922 Juliet

The_Supernatural_Hufflepuff Says:

February 15th, 2015 at 1:41 am

I changed my mind my favorite name in the 500s is #589 Opal

peacebird10 Says:

February 16th, 2015 at 3:30 am

What a fun post! I expected to find a lot of names like Barbara and Linda on the top 100, but so many of them are very wearable today: Betty (maybe a bit hipster), Gloria, Dorothy (perhaps updated to Dorothea), Joan, Virginia, Frances, Laura, Charlotte, Constance, Evelyn, and Sylvia. I agree with lesliemarion that although some of the popular names of the 50s might sound dated, but many of them really hold their own in comparison to the Kaylas and Maklaylyns.

My top 10:
#97 Sylvia
#146 Josephine
#251 Marguerite
#320 Pearl (btw – how is #349 “unknown”?)
#406 Genevieve
#584 Cornelia (this name deserves more love!)
#618 Madeleine
#784 Wilhelmina
#870 Delphine or #873 Theodora
#975 Elinor

epowell Says:

February 16th, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I think a lot of girl’s names tend to be “cute-sy” which is why they don’t hold up to the test of time. Names that parents thought were “cute” in the past now just sound dusty. Which, the same thing will happen to the next gen. ALL the Kinsleys, Kinleys, Kenzies an on and on will soon sound like Shirley.

My top 10 from the 1950’s are

Margaret
Jane
Rose
Charlotte
Rosemary
Eva
Josephine
Elizabeth
Mary
Alice

emilybk Says:

February 16th, 2015 at 12:52 pm

My daughter’s middle name is Margaret, after my grandmother (born in 1924) and aunt (born in 1950). Her first name is a family surname, so I wanted to give her something timeless as a middle in case she grows up to hate having a rather unusual first name. My own mother’s name is Anna, and she was born in 1956. Her name seems to have held up a little better than those of other women her age.

Bobcat108 Says:

February 16th, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Sylvia: It’s got the popular V in it & has several potential spellings/slight variants (Silvia, Silvie, Sylvie)

Josephine: It’s a Downton Abbey-type name that’s feminine w/o being frilly & has numerous potential nns, as well as being the full name of Jo March from Little Woman

Cecilia: Soft but w/lots of history; lots of potential nns (Celia, Lia, CeCi)

Adrienne: Girls’ names starting w/A are super-hot now, & Adrienne (or Adrienna/Adrianna) has a similar sound to the very popular Aria/Arian(n)a

Antonia: Another A-name; classic w/lots of history & the title character of Willa Cather’s My Antonia

Rosanna: Combines the very popular Rose & Anna

Leila: Goes along w/all the Lily/Lilia/Lillian names that are hot now

Susanna: Gently old-fashioned w/a pleasant flow; has the meaning of “lily,” so a path to that meaning w/o using the very popular name Lily

Evangelina: Another name w/V in it & many potential cute nns (Evie, Vangie, Lina…even Evan, pronounced EE-vahn)

Joycelyn: Names starting w/J are still quite popular, although more so for boys than girls…Joscelin/Jocelyn/etc. might be more apt to appeal & have nns like Joss (like the singer Joss Stone), but Joycelyn would provide the nn Joy

ElsaAnne Says:

February 17th, 2015 at 11:38 am

My favourites are:

66 – Ellen
109 – Louise
235 – Ramona
373 – Lorna
470 – Winifred
566 – Helena
689 – Camilla
738 – Ingrid
890 – Annabelle
943 – Vanessa

tararyaz Says:

February 18th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Mid-century everything is trending right now, so it seems like names from that time could be up next. I like to think of them as the new grandma names. I love the strength of names like Patricia, Barbara, Carol, Susan and Deborah, even though they aren’t my taste. I would love to meet a little kid called Patsy or Bunny and I think it would feel a bit subversive and hipstery to name an infant one of the less flowery, less classic names on this list.

peach Says:

February 19th, 2015 at 11:06 pm

I don’t see many top 1950’s names being used as firsts these days. My mom has one of these popular names. Although, I may well use her first and middle initials instead of the names themselves as a connection.

I am a fan of Alice, Margot, Hazel, Adeline (my name is Addie) but they are all getting too popular for me to use.

I am a fan of these 1950’s nsmes from the top 500 of the SSA list:
Marilyn
Marlene
Ruby
Lillian
Lucille
Cecilia
Miriam
Laurel
Rosalind
Violet
Camille
Genevieve
Lila
Rosalyn
Etta

AmLou031 Says:

February 24th, 2015 at 12:59 am

My grandmother is Barbara and although i adore my grandmother and adored her name we couldnt bring ourselves to use it in the first place. Its too dated and I really didnt like Barbie as a nickname

I see why parents are less inclined to use these names for their daughters

dresdendoll Says:

April 3rd, 2015 at 9:27 pm

What’s great about those names is they’re all really strong.

Tops:

1. Diane
2. Margaret
3. Elizabeth
4. Carolyn
5. Judith
6. Barbara
7. Pamela
8. Kathleen
9. Nancy
10. Susan

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