The Advance And Retreat Of Girls Names 1960-2012

Jezebel has an interesting series of maps up showing the most prominent names in all 50 states from 1960 through 2012 based on Social Security Administration records. Here’s the map for 1960, when Mary pretty much ruled the land: Names 1960   And here’s 2012,which shows Emma predominating but Sophia holding out on the West Coast, with small pockets of support in the East: Names 2012 There’s also an animated GIF at the link that tells the tale. It’s like watching the advance and retreat of armies across a battlefield.

FILED UNDER: General, Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    Emma….the old lady name of 2082.

    Mary, on the other hand, will never go out style. Gotta go Biblical. Jezebel knows that.

  2. Just Me says:

    In 1993 my husband wanted our daughter to have the name Jennifer-i remember telling him everyone was named Jennifer (and in my age cohort they were). I gave in and she is a Jennifer-and was the only one in her grade and the surrounding grades.

    In 1995 I chose the name Emily thinking it would be unique-and of course it wasn’t-there are Emily’s everywhere.

    Moral to the baby naming story-if you want your child to have a unique name among her peers-choose one of the most popular names from your own age cohort.

  3. CSK says:

    I’m just happy “Tiffany” is no longer in vogue.

  4. PJ says:

    And here’s 2012,which shows Emma predominating but Sophia holding out on the West Coast, with small pockets of support in the East

    Emma has the support of lots of flyover states, so the name may have won the most States, but it didn’t win the popular vote (nor the Electoral Collage outright, which turns out stands at 252 for Sophia, 250 for Emma, 29 for Isabella, 4 for Olivia, and 3 for Ava… Need better data to find out who actaully won that, which names did the congressional districts choose?)
    In 2012, 20791 girls were named Emma, but 22158 girls were named Sophia.
    (Isabelle, the third most popular name, only won one state, but, being given to 18931 girls, it’s only 1860 behind Sophia.)

  5. PJ says:

    @CSK:

    I’m just happy “Tiffany” is no longer in vogue.

    842 in 2012. 370th.

  6. Scott says:

    I wonder if the Donna’s on the East Coast in 1960 were the result of Hurricane Donna in the fall of 1960. We had just moved to Long Island the year before and that was our first hurricane. I was six.

  7. James Joyner says:

    I was born in 1965. Every other girl in my class were named either Lisa or Kim.

  8. PJ says:

    @James Pearce:

    Mary, on the other hand, will never go out style. Gotta go Biblical. Jezebel knows that.

    Mary was given to every 687th newborn girl in 2012, which makes it the 123rd most common name.
    Not sure I’d call it in style. Not compared to 1960, when it was given to every 39th newborn girl, or 1880 when it was given to every 13th newborn girl…

    But then, individualism and choice has won.

    In 2012, the most common name was given to every 7869th newborn girl, which makes it about 600 times less common among newborn girls then Mary was in 1880…

    In 2012 19380 different names were given to at least 5 newborn girls, in 1960 that number was 7334, in 1880 942…

    (* All statistics based on names given to more than four newborn girls)

  9. CSK says:

    Slightly OT, but years ago, I read an article in one of the Sunday supplements about people who claimed to have been abducted by space aliens, and all the women who had these alleged extraterrestrial adventures were named names like “Skye,” or “Amber,” or “Caresse,” or “Jewel.” I wondered if the aliens deliberately avoided snatching women named, say, “Elizabeth,” or “Jane,” or “Anne,” or “Sally.” Not to speak of “Susan,” “Mary,” or “Donna.” Or even “Kim” and “Lisa.”

  10. PJ says:

    @PJ:

    In 2012, the most common name was given to every 7869th 79th newborn girl, which makes it about 600 6 times less common among newborn girls then Mary was in 1880…

    FTFY…

  11. PJ says:

    @CSK:
    There’s a chapter on baby names in Freakonomics, I think that one is highly relevant here.

  12. Barfour says:

    I don’t know why some parents want unique names for their children. But if you’re going to give your child a unique name, make it a good one. Someone, whose surname is “West”, named his daughter “North”. So her name is North West. Why would anyone want to give their daughter a weird name? I don’t understand that.

  13. CSK says:

    @PJ:

    It is. Johnny Carson once asked Frank Zappa why he’d named his daughter “Moon Unit.” Zappa snarled, “Well, what was I supposed to call her—D**chebag?” Well, no, Frank, but there’s a host of other possibilities.

    The point about weirdo names is that they’re commonplace now, hence, mainstream. On the other hand, if you’d named your kid “Blue Ivy” in 1955, she’d either be in intensive therapy by age fifteen or stripping in Vegas.

  14. Grewgills says:

    Our first baby is coming end of November and we just named her. Now I see we are sort of on a band wagon. Wife always loved the name Sophie. Soon to be little girl is Sophie Mae.

    Her middle name is Hokuao.

  15. Boyd says:

    @Barfour: It must be something about the surname West. I know a couple named West with three sons: Wylde, Easton, and Rydon.

    /smh

  16. Tyrell says:

    Names showing up in some of today’s schools: Mya, Cameron, Autumn, Destiny, Hannah, Bree, Summer, Skye, and really big is Makayla.

  17. Franklin says:

    I was born a little late for that phase, but I’m surprised that Lisa once completely and unanimously ruled the United States. Seems like there should be a bunch of 50-year-olds named that but I don’t know any.

  18. Just Me says:

    James my sister and I are both born in the late 60’s I am a Kim and her name is Lisa. Indont recall that many Lisas but there were a ton of Kims (Jennifers and Michelles) and it didn’t help to have a popular first name paired with a common last name. My college screwed paperwork because there were at least 5 of us with the same name.

  19. PJ says:

    @Franklin:

    I was born a little late for that phase, but I’m surprised that Lisa once completely and unanimously ruled the United States. Seems like there should be a bunch of 50-year-olds named that but I don’t know any.

    It didn’t completely and unanimously rule the United States, about 2.3-3.4% of newborn girls were named Lisa during those years.

  20. al-Ameda says:

    A few years ago I took my daughter went to a children’s park-playground in my town, and while I was watching her play and run around from a distance, I started counting the names I heard the moms and dads called out for their kids.

    in 90 minutes I counted 4 Taylors (2 boys 2 girls), 3 Zoes, 2 Macies, 3 Sophias, and 3 Emilys.

    That’s when I realized that the names of my youth were gone.

  21. Grumpy Realist says:

    I like the Miss Manners approach: a good solid pompous traditional name and then use a nickname.

    I’ve always been annoyed that my legal name is a nickname. Some point I’m going to change it to the full-blown traditional name.

  22. Tillman says:

    Friends of mine named their daughter Molly. Definitely a name I don’t recall anyone having when I was growing up, but still sounds old-fashioned.

  23. Pinky says:

    It’s like watching the spread of a disease. If only we’d stamped out the Madison outbreak in the late 1990’s, the way we prevented the spread of Taylor.