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Doll Names: Traveling Back in Time

Doll Names: Traveling Back in Time

Doll names are time capsules of trends and popularity during different eras. Of course, the manufacturers tried to pick names that they thought would be especially appealing and attractive to little girls, which is why Barbara Lou appears in the 1930s, while Barbie comes around in the 1960s.

Here, doll names throughout the ages:

1890s-1910s

Unfortunately, few of the gorgeous early French, German and other bebe dolls were given names–they would more likely be identified as “Baby Open-Mouth, Glass Eyes” or “Molded Blonde Hair Child,” leaving the actual bestowing of a name up to the child playing with it. But those with an official ID had names that were typical of their time:

  • Alma

  • Florence

  • Hilda

  • Jeanette

  • Katie

  • Lilly

  • Mabel

  • Marie

1920s

The Patsy series introduced the double names that would soon become prevalent in the population of dollyland. Most of the other names were relatively formal and conventional, some a little on the fancy side.

  • Benedetta

  • Edwina

  • Gloria

  • Henriette

  • Laura

  • Marilee

  • Norma

  • Patsy

  • Patsy Ann

  • Patsy Joan

  • Patsy Lou

  • Patsy Mae

  • Patsy Ruth

  • Phyllis

  • Priscilla

  • Rita

  • Roberta

  • Rosemary

1930s

The inclusion of middle names like Ann and Lee now became quasi-ubiquitous; also seen are time-stamped Bobbsey Twinish nicknames like Flossie and Ginger.

  • Barbara Ann

  • Barbara Lou

  • Dora Lee

  • Flossie

  • Ginger

  • Hilda

  • Lucia

  • Mary Lee

  • June

  • Nancy Lee

  • Patricia

  • Peggy Jean

  • Roberta

  • Sally

  • Shirley

  • Suzanne

  • Suzette

  • Wendy

  • Wendy-Ann

1940s

Nickname names take over — Barbara Ann is now Babs and Patricia has become Patty.

  • Babs

  • Betty Jane

  • Cynthia

  • Debby Jean

  • Jennie

  • Judy

  • Julie

  • Maggie

  • Mary Jane

  • Patty

  • Peggy

  • Polly

  • Sue

  • Trudy

  • Valerie

  • Velva

  • Wanda

1950s

A wide range of names for early Baby Boomers, with fresher choices like Karen, Cheryl and Cindy entering the mix.

  • April

  • Becky

  • Beryl

  • Betsy

  • Binnie

  • Bonnie

  • Carol

  • Cheryl

  • Cindy

  • Connie

  • Dawn

  • Edie

  • Elise

  • Ellie

  • Eloise

  • Ginny

  • Hope

  • Iva

  • Jan

  • Jill

  • Julie

  • Karen

  • Kay

  • Linda

  • Lucy

  • Margie

  • Margot

  • Muffie

  • Nan

  • Nanette

  • Pamela

  • Pat

  • Posie

  • Rosemary

  • Ruth

  • Sandra Sue

  • Sara Ann

  • Saralee

  • Susie

  • Taffy

  • Tina

  • Toni

  • Wanda

  • Wendy

  • Winnie

1960s

Includes names emerging from and reflecting popular culture, such as First Lady Jacqueline, Marlo, Tabitha and Tammy.

  • Barbie

  • Cathy

  • Coco

  • Crissy

  • Elise

  • Francie

  • Heidi

  • Janie

  • Jacqueline

  • Katie

  • Leslie

  • Liz

  • Marlo

  • Mary Ellen

  • Midge

  • Polly

  • Sally

  • Stacey

  • Tabitha

  • Tammy

1970s

Names become much more imaginative in the Swinging '70s, with new and unconventional choices popping up on doll boxes, including Cricket, Harmony, Tiffany, Tuesday and Velvet.

  • Blythe

  • Cara

  • Cinnamon

  • Cora

  • Cynthia

  • Crissy

  • Cricket

  • Darci

  • Dawn

  • Dina

  • Glori

  • Harmony

  • Heather

  • Lynn

  • Kerry

  • Melanie

  • Mia

  • Sasha

  • Sheryl

  • Steffie

  • Tara

  • Tiffany

  • Tuesday

  • Velvet

1980s-today: American Girl Dolls

The 1980s introduced American Girl, a brand of dolls portraying young girls from various points in American history. The dolls are fully developed characters that come with books about their lives.

Below, the historical dolls, listed in chronological order by their "birthdays:"

  • Kaya (1755)

  • Elizabeth (1765)

  • Felicity (1765)

  • Caroline (1802)

  • Josefina (1815)

  • Cécile (1843)

  • Marie-Grace (1843)

  • Kirsten (1845)

  • Addy (1855)

  • Nellie (1895)

  • Samantha (1895)

  • Rebecca (1905)

  • Kit (1923)

  • Ruthie (1923)

  • Nanea (1932)

  • Emily (1933)

  • Molly (1936)

  • Maryellen (1945)

  • Melody (1954)

  • Ivy (1966)

  • Julie (1966)

  • Courtney (1976)

Girl of the Year dolls were introduced in 2001 as limited-edition contemporary characters. They are meant to represent 10-12-year-old girls and come with their own backstories, much like the historical dolls. Their names are listed below, along with their ascribed birth years:

  • Lindsey (1991)

  • Kailey (1993)

  • Marisol (1995)

  • Jess (1996)

  • Nicki (1997)

  • Mia (1998)

  • Chrissa (1999)

  • Gwen (1999)

  • Sonali (1999)

  • Lanie (2000)

  • Kanani (2001)

  • McKenna (2002)

  • Saige (2003)

  • Isabelle (2004)

  • Grace (2005)

  • Lea (2005)

  • Gabriela (2006)

  • Luciana (2006)

  • Blaire (2009)

  • Joss (2010)

  • Kira (2010)

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.