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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!

Image: 1950s woman by  Yarygin/