Posts Tagged ‘ throwback thursday ’

Throwback Thursday: 1880s Baby Names

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Today we’re heading back in time to the 1880s, the earliest time when we have actual statistics on the top baby names. Back then, we stuck with the basics—John and Mary dominated the charts. As we found with the 1890s, nickname-names were surprisingly popular for girls, including Minnie, Nellie, Mamie, and Sadie—all names that might make sense with the trend toward nickname names like Millie and Maisy. But there were some unique names that might be worth mining for your baby. What do you think of these?


Effie peaked at #62 back in the 1880s, when people gave their daughters this shortened form of Euphemia as their whole name. With The Hunger Games‘ Effie Trinket bringing the name back out into the limelight, perhaps this name will make a comeback? (There were only 37 girls who were given the name last year!)

Lula was another sweet nickname name that topped the charts back in the 1880s—it was often used as a nickname for Tallulah or Lucy. It hasn’t hit the top 1000 since the 1960s, but makes a nice alternative to Lily and Lilah.

Martha topped the charts for nearly 70 years, finally starting to fall out of favor in the 1950s. But this name, which means lady, is just starting to make its comeback.

Della is a short and sweet name that was a favored variant of Adela. It peaked in the 1880s, at the 68th most popular name, and hasn’t been seen in the top 1000 since 1977. It might be a nice choice if you like names like Adele, Ella, or Isabella—and don’t want to use any of those uberpopular choices.

Harriet (#90 back in the 1880s) seems to be a name that name nerds like me absolutely love—but no one’s really using it. (Only 9 girls were given the name last year.) It has a regal meaning—ruler—and some great resonance, with historical figures like abolitionist Harriet Tubman and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and pop culture references like children’s book character Harriet the Spy. But it hasn’t been in the top 1000 since 1970. Is it finally ready for a revival?


Elmer was #38 back in the 1880s, and made a slow and steady decline to obscurity right after the 21st century. But it has a great name meaning—noble—even if it is associated with the bumbling Elmer Fudd from the Looney Tunes cartoons.

Milton followed a similar path—it was the 100th most popular name in the 1880s, and just fell off the radar after 2000. But it’s shown up in some new ways lately—including a character on The Walking Dead, so it might be worth revitalizing.

Grover peaked back in the 1880s, thanks to President Grover Cleveland. But it lost its top 1000 ranking back in the 1970s, around the time the Muppet appeared on Sesame Street. It’s a charming name, though, with a pastoral theme—it means living near a grove of trees.

Clyde is a name of a river in Scotland—and an infamous outlaw. It was a top 60 name back in the 1880s, and fell out of favor back in 1990. But I think it could be worth resurrecting for this century.

Emil was just outside the top 100 back in the 1880s, and only went downhill from there. It means rival, but makes a fun and funky alternative to some of the “e” names, like Evan and Ethan.

What do you think of these vintage names? Any ones worth adding to your short list? Don’t forget to try out our Baby Name Finder to find the perfect name for your son or daughter, and like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the latest in baby names.

Image: 1800s woman by Donna Beeler /

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Throwback Thursday: 1930s Baby Names

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The 1930s didn’t go down in history as a stellar decade—what with the Great Depression and Hitler bringing everybody down. But can some cool names be salvaged from this decade? The chart toppers of the 1930s were Robert and Mary—not exactly out-there names even today. But could there be some overlooked gems on the list?


Franklin took a sharp rise after FDR was sworn into office—it peaked at #33 in 1933. It’s dropped below the top 500 now, but still makes a worthy choice. Consider it in lieu of the “den” names like Brayden or Jayden.

While Robert topped the charts in the 1930s, the nickname Bobby wasn’t far behind at #27. Nickname names might not be super popular right now, but could Bobby be charming enough to make a comeback?

Edward may be the “Ed” name of choice, thanks to Twilight, but back in the 1930s, Edwin was topping the charts, too. The name means “wealthy friend”—and isn’t that the best kind to have? I love the idea of Win as a nickname.

I love Clifford, the #86 name of the 1930s—even if this name has become synonymous with the Big Red Dog. But I’d skip Cliff as a nickname in favor of Ford.

Alfred means wise counselor—like the sharp-as-a-tack bearer of the name, Alfred Hitchcock—and it was a top 50 name of the 1930s. If you like the nicknames Freddie or UK fave Alfie, this is the name for you!


Doris peaked at number 13 back in the 1930s—and maybe that’s why it was so unlucky to fall out of fashion. It hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 1990s, even though it has a cool meaning—gift of the ocean—and a sweet Dorrie nickname.

Strangely enough, the popularity of blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe didn’t extend to her name—it peaked at #16 back in the 1930s. The name is a combo of Mary and Lynn—so it’s a nice way to honor two people in your past.

Sweet Irene has a lovely meaning—peace—and still hasn’t come back after a slow and steady decline from its #49 spot in the 1930s. I think it’s a nice alternative to the many vowel-heavy names, like Emma and Olivia, that still top the charts.

Could Bernice be the next Beatrice? This #87 name in the 1930s fell out of favor in the 1980s, and comes with a cute “Bunny” nickname.

Joan topped the charts back in the 1930s, ranking 7th—and it has the cool Joan of Arc namesake with it. It hasn’t been a top 1000 contender since the 1990s, but maybe it’s ready to come back as an offbeat middle name choice?

What do you think? Could Alfred or Bernice be at a playground near you? If you aren’t a big fan of these 1930s names, try looking for a more modern one with our Baby Name Finder. And if you’ve already found your name, check out this video to make sure you’ve picked a winner.

Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name

Image: 1930s woman, from Everett Collection/

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Throwback Thursday: 1970s Baby Names

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Were the 1970s long enough ago that the top names of the era deserve another look? Top girls’ names like Jennifer and Lisa may be a little too overdone to make a comeback now—and top boys’ names like Michael and Christopher never exactly go out of vogue. But the age of disco does have a few names in the top 100 that might be worth a second glance.


Kevin didn’t exactly drop too far from its pinnacle in the 1970s. It was #13 back then, but #67 now. The Irish name means handsome—and is a nice break from the Celtic Aidens and Dylans.

Jeremy, on the other hand, has fallen mightily from its peak in the 1970s—it was often a top 20 name, but now, this name that means “appointed by God,” is well below the top 100.

Gregory means vigilant—this #29 name in the 1970s has fallen to the top 300. I kind of like it in lieu of the equally classic Gabriel. Gregory’s a saint’s name and the name of legendary actor Gregory Peck.

Craig was the #56 baby name in the 1970s. But this name, which means “from the rocks,” has had a rocky time since then—it’s been on a precipitous fall from grace since the early 1990s. I like it in place of Caleb or Carter.

Shane is a real “cowboy” name, thanks to the film. It’s on a long, slow slide currently, after being the #60 name in the 1970s. Perhaps the fact that it’s been in a number of modern hits, including The Walking Dead, may give it a new lease on life.


Angela was red hot in the 1970s—a top 10 baby name all the way. I’m seeing it as an alternative to the uberpopular Amelia. What do you think?

I’m a little sad to see the name Tracy (the 1970s 24th most popular name) fall so far—my sister was given the variant spelling Tracey back in the 1970s. My mom seemed to know how to pick names at their pinnacle of popularity! Tracy’s now fallen completely out of the top 1000, though it could make a lovely name for a boy, too—think Tracy Morgan.

Dawn was the perfect popular name for the post-hippie 1970s—and it’s no wonder it was the 26th most popular name. It fell out of the top 1000 at the dawn of the century, but might make a sweet middle name, if nothing else.

Monica was the perfect name for the Friends character who seemed to run the whole group—it means advisor. It was in the top 45 back in the 1970s, but these days, it’s hanging around in the top 500.

Melanie means dark, and it’s held pretty steady in the bottom of the top 100 ever since it hit #56 in the 1970s. It’s most famous as the name of Scarlett O’Hara’s best friend/rival from the classic Gone With the Wind. 

What do you think? Any of these 70 names worth a comeback? If you still haven’t found a baby name you love, email your question to me at, or check out our Baby Name Finder for more help!

Image: Disco chick by Nemanya/

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Throwback Thursday: 1950s Baby Names

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

It’s time to take the baby name time machine back to the era of poodle skirts and young Elvis. And while the baby name Elvis reached its peak back in 1957 (it was #312 then), the most popular names were kind of what you’d expect—as they’re likely the names of your parents or grandparents. James and Mary topped the list, with Michael and Linda in second. James and Michael are still in the tops for boys, but Mary and Linda have fallen off considerably from their peaks.

Some of the names are probably too freshly popular to expect a comeback—names like Gary and Cheryl. But there might be a few gems worth resurrecting. Here are my picks from the top 100 1950s names:


I’ve been trying to resurrect the name Kenneth for a while now. It was #16 back in the 1950s, and has a really cool meaning—who wouldn’t want to call their kid handsome? It’s now in the top 200, but falling slowly.

Bruce, which means from the brushwood thicket, reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1950s—#32 on the charts back then. With legends like Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Lee and Bruce Willis sporting the name, is it any wonder that it’s back on the map? (It’s risen over 100 places in the last two years alone!)

Dale was the 50th most popular name back in the 1950s, and it officially fell of the map for boys back in 2009. It means valley, and I like it in place of names like Cale and Caleb.

Leonard means brave lion, and it was the 88th most popular name back in the 1950s—today it’s just outside the top 700. It’s a nice way to get that trendy “Leo” nickname, but give your kid a classic name to go with it.


Kathleen is a variant of Caitlin and Katherine, and it has the same meaning—pure. It was #15 back in the 1950s, but today it’s fallen down to #667. It might be a fresh alternative to the now overplayed Caitlin.

Valerie ranked 84th back in the 1950s. It means strong, and it’s leveled off in the top 200 baby names for a while now. Maybe it’s time for a resurgence?

Pamela peaked in the 1950s, at #13—but it dropped out of the top 1000 last year. It’s a name that means “honey,” and maybe deserves another chance? I’m not loving Pam as a nickname, but could a case be made for the fresher “Millie” nickname from it?

Nancy peaked in the 1950s, but has been been taking a nosedive of late. It has a lovely meaning—grace—and that can-do detective Nancy Drew to recommend her. (Plus that spunky Fancy Nancy character is super cute!)

What do you think? Do any of the names suit you, or is there another retro classic you’re considering? If you’re still looking for baby names, try our Baby Name Finder, or keep up with the latest in baby names by liking In Name Only on Facebook!

Plus: See what’s written in the stars for you and Baby with our Mom and Baby Horoscope Finder. Also, be sure to check these must-dos off your Pregnancy To-Do List.

Image: 1950s woman by  Yarygin/

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Throwback Thursday: 1920s Baby Names

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Today’s baby-name time machine takes us all the way back to the 1920s. You’ll find some familiar names in the top 25—James and William were both in the top 10 for boys back then, and stalwarts like Elizabeth, Anna and Lillian were near the top, back then as they are now. But some top names aren’t anywhere to be found—Robert and Mary topped the charts back then, but are #61 and #123 now, respectively. And of course, there are names there that may never again see the light of day (or at least not anytime soon)—I’m looking at you, Melvin, Floyd, Edna and Gertrude.

But I see some real hidden gems on the list that you might want to consider. Ponder these top 1920s names:


Arthur began a slow and steady decline after spending the 1920s in the top 20 names—it’s now at #355 for boys. But this Celtic name that means “bear” deserves another shot. Think Knights of the Round Table, not the drunken millionaire from the 1970s comedy.

Lawrence ranked #36 in the 1920s, but is down toward the top 500 now—which is better than the other spelling, Laurence, has fared (it dropped out of the top 1000 back in 1995). Think Laurence of Arabia, Laurence Olivier, and Laurence Fishburne.

Gilbert is a delightfully nerdy name–it hit its peak as a top 100 baby name in the 1920s, and barely ranks in the top 1000 now (despite the fact that it was the name of Anne of Green Gables‘ true love, and the title character—played by Johnny Depp—in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?). The name has a lovely meaning—shining pledge.

I’ve been campaigning for Harry for boys since I took over this gig—and I’m still shocked that this name, which means ruler, is still on a sharp decline. (After all, it has the magical Mr. Potter and the British royal sporting it.) It was #23 in the 1920s, but now stands at number 718.

Walter has steadied out in the top 400 names, but this classic name, which means ruler, was at #16 in the 1920s.


Dorothy hit its heyday back in the 1920s, when it was the #2 name in the land—and that was before the ruby slippered gal hit the silver screen. It nearly fell out of the top 1000 names back in 2006, but now it’s making a bit of a comeback. Consider the cute nicknames Dot or Dorrie!

Virginia is another top 10 name from the 1920s that seems ripe for a revival—it’s barely in the top 600 right now. It means pure, and has the state and historic ladies like author Virginia Woolf and the first English girl born in the U.S., Virginia Dare. With the story of seminal sex researcher Virginia Johnson now being showcased in the Showtime show Masters of Sex, it might be time for this name to make a comeback.

Agnes is another name that means pure—it was #67 in the 1920s, but hasn’t ranked in the top 1000 since 1972. But with so many people loving the Abbie/Aggie nicknames for girls, it’s only a matter of time before Agnes starts her comeback.

Don’t let the “Moaning Myrtle” character from Harry Potter scare you off this name, chosen for a flowering tree. It was #90 back in the 1920s, and dropped out of the top 1000 back in the 1960s.

Florence means flowering, and was #21 in the 1920s—and it hasn’t made it into the top 1000 since 1980. Don’t let the cheesy “Flo” Progressive spokeswoman scare you off this name, which also was the name of famous nurse Florence Nightingale, and the lead singer, Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine.

Do any of these throwback names sound good—or should they be preserved in mothballs? Let me know in the comments.

Do you know yet if you’re having a boy or a girl? Take our gender prediction quiz to find out!

Image: Roaring 20s girl by Olena Zaskochenko/

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