A Century of Back-to-School Names
1915: The (Old) School of Baby Names
A century ago, compulsory education was finally becoming the law of the land in the US, with John and Mary the undisputed top names for children. John would remain Number 1 through 1923; Mary, until 1946. But the more interesting Class of 1915 names are a mix of traditional names reappearing today, such as Frances, Evelyn, and Ruth, Charles, Arthur, and George, along with others still hovering in fashion limbo: Helen, Irene, Frank, Howard, and Harold. The class pictured here is getting instruction in nose-blowing.
- John and Mary the undisputed top names for children. John would remain Number 1 through 1923; Mary, until 1946. But the more interesting Class of 1915 names are a mix of traditional names reappearing today, such as Frances, Evelyn, and Ruth, Charles, Arthur, and George, along with others still hovering in fashion limbo: Helen, Irene, Frank, Howard, and Harold. The class pictured here is getting instruction in nose-blowing." >
- Hi was the Yo of 1925, when schools in the US were still largely segregated by race and sometimes also by gender. This photo is of the so-called “Mexican School” of Orange, California in 1925, but there were also black and Indian schools as well as white schools. On the name front, Doris joined Dorothy in the Class of 1925, as did Lois, Jean, and Gloria, as in Hollywood superstar Gloria Swanson. On the boys’ side, Robert toppled John, becoming the only non-Biblical name to ever hold the boys’ top spot in the US." >
- Shirley Temple. The Class of 1935 included many a little Shirley, along with the future women of Mad Men, Betty and Joan. Larry, Jerry, and Raymond were the Mason, Logan, and Oliver of their year." >
- Linda, Carol, and Susan were popular for girls; boys were Donald and Ronald, Larry and Gary, Douglas and Dennis." >
- Baby Boom Class of 1955, who at the height of the Cold War practiced Duck 'n' Cover in the classroom, included many a Debbie, with both Deborah and Debra among the most popular names of the decade. Barbara was big, and the iconic Barbie doll would be released in 1959. But shades of today’s trends can be seen in the Class of 1955, too, like modern innovation Cheryl. Boys’ names, too, start to look familiar. Michael took the Number 1 spot in the US, and Paul, Kenneth, Jeffrey and Gregory all caught on." >
- Lisa hit Number 1 on the baby name list. Other novel entries at the top of the girls’ list included Kimberly, Tammy, and Michelle, famously crooned by the Beatles in 1965. For boys there was Brian, as in the Beach Boys, along with fellow surfer dudes Scott and Todd." >
- John and Mary, yet there was a certain conformity amid the nonconformity, with Jennifer and Jason, Kimberly and Christopher, Amy and Eric all hugely popular. They would inspire the very first book by Nameberry’s creators, Beyond Jennifer and Jason, first published in 1988." >
- Ashley, Megan, and Jessica were the cool kids of 1985. Kimberly gave way to Stephanie, Tiffany, and Brittany. Class of 1985 members Amber and Crystal were early nature-inspired baby names. And while Michael remained the Class of 1985’s Prom King, the real story of the decade was the letter J. Evergreen Joseph, James, and John were joined by Jason, Justin, Joshua, Jacob, Jeremy, and the still-popular Jeffrey at the top of the charts." >
- William and Harry move through their school years, the English-speaking world aspired to a new classiness in baby name choices. Upper-crusty surname-names such as Tyler (usually a boy) and Taylor (often a girl) rose to the top of the charts. Rachel was everybody’s favorite Friend, haircut and baby name. Pop culture influences included Alyssa and Samantha (Who’s the Boss), Alexis (Dynasty), and Kayla (Days of Our Lives), plus Disney’s Jasmine, from Aladdin. On the boys’ side, Andrew, Brandon, Zachary, and Kyle were go-to choices. But the real story was the slow rise of Aidan, which started in the 1990s." >
- Aiden and his brothers were heading toward their peak in 2005, with at least five –aiden names in the US Top 100. Girls’ names ranged from the literary and ladylike Emily and Emma, to the modern Madison. And baby names that started with vowels earned an A+ from parents." >
- East and Africa, along with children entering new schools and introducing their diverse world of names. While the top names in the US this year are Sophia and Isabella, Noah and Liam and Mason, the most interesting name stories are the global sensations and novel inventions increasingly heard here and around the world, from Anakin to Zendaya." >
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A Century of Back-to-School Names | Greatest Images and Reviews Said
on September 17th, 2015 at 11:14 pm
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on September 19th, 2015 at 3:40 pm
This is a really interesting read! I think it’s great to see different names that you hear at school.
on September 21st, 2015 at 10:04 am
Tyler and Taylor are NOT “upper-crusty”!
on September 22nd, 2015 at 10:29 am
I always wondered if the reason names go through cycles is because of the popularity of the parents’ names. I was born in the late 80’s. I was the only Irene in a sea of Kimberly’s, Stephanie’s, Ashley’s and Brittany’s. Those girls with the popular names who have gone on to have kids, seemed to give their children names that were less common, perhaps trying to shield their kids from being Madison #3. I’ve seen an Edith and, I believe, there was a Savannah, which is uncommon in my area, amongst my former classmates.
I’m not a mom, but I did find it difficult being the only Irene in the entire school and would prefer to give my child a name that is more in the middle of the popularity scale, heard of but not exceptionally popular, like Isabelle, and yet, not so rare either, like a Mavis would be. Georgina is my top choice right now as I don’t see it everywhere, but people have heard of it (with the added bonus that it would honor my mother).
It would seem the children who had pretty popular, trendy names or kids who had pretty unique names growing up are choosing more classic, less heard of names.
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