Map: Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Girls, State-by-State
I love infographics (graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly). And today, I came upon the following map infographic at the site Jezebel.com. What interested me most was the name Jennifer (my daughter’s name) which first appeared in 1970 and remained the most popular name for 15 years before disappearing from the map altogether in 1984. Upon further research, I discovered that the name Jennifer was mostly used in Cornwall, England, before the 20th century (where most of my ancestors came from according to my DNA and my ancestry research). It became popular in all English-speaking countries, first in the UK in the 1950s, and then in the US as the top name for women born in 1970-1984.
Top Given Names Over the Last 100 Years
Likewise, in the Social Security Administration’s Annual Tally of Given Names, the name Jennifer was the third most popular given female name over the past one hundred years in the United States. Similarly, our eldest son is named Robert, and his name, too, was the third most popular given male name over the hundred year period. And, looking for our youngest son’s name, Jeffrey, we find that his name also made the list at #29 over the hundred-year period.
My family today actually has more than our share of Brandon’s (#41 on the list). We have one grandson, one great-grandson, and one nephew all named Brandon and spanning three generations. As I look over the lists of both males and females, though, I can find possibly only one name from each list that doesn’t seem within my family tree: name #100 on both sides: Shawn and Crystal. I guess that makes my family absolutely average, as far as naming conventions go.
So, below is the Social Security Administration’s table that shows the 100 most popular given names for male and female babies born 1914-2013. For each rank and sex, the table shows the name and the number of occurrences of that name. These time-tested popular names were taken from a universe that includes 169,233,019 male births and 165,941,917 female births.
|Source: 100% sample based on Social Security card application data as of the end of February 2014. See the limitations of this data source.|
Least Popular Names Given 1880-1932
Then, I looked a little further for least popular names given and found this list on mental-floss.com.
|Year||Boy (Rank)||Girl (Rank)|
|1880||Handy (970)||Parthenia (914)|
|1881||Okey (972)||Erie (1000)|
|1882||Ab (943)||Dove (944)|
|1883||Commodore (925)||Lovey (992)|
|1884||Spurgeon (958)||Kathern (974)|
|1885||Fount (989)||Icy (977)|
|1886||Squire (953)||Texie (987)|
|1887||Bliss (946)||Lockie (907)|
|1888||Boss (930)||Indiana (989)|
|1889||Starling (962)||Easter (967)|
|1890||Lawyer (999)||Pinkey (918)|
|1891||Manley (962)||Chestina (974)|
|1892||Little (914)||Odell (1000)|
|1893||Orange (1000)||Leafy (933)|
|1894||Flem (1000)||Ova (986)|
|1895||Toy (969)||Sister (974)|
|1896||Josephine (937)*||Clifford (935)*|
|1897||Henery (1000)||Florance (1000)|
|1898||Pleasant (973)||Tiny (915)|
|1899||Fate (972)||Cuba (884)|
|1900||Gorge (935)||Electa (948)|
|1901||Joesph (999)||Beulah (923)|
|1902||Rolla (917)||Bama (942)|
|1903||Ples (992)||Capitola (982)|
|1904||Council (989)||Pearly (993)|
|1905||Son (912)||Wava (967)|
|1906||Virgle (999)||Carry (971)|
|1907||Geo (956)||Arizona (949)|
|1908||Lillian (992)||Lilyan (991)|
|1909||Murl (1000)||Flonnie (1000)|
|1910||Lemon (964)||Classie (994)|
|1911||Wash (978)||Lavada (806)|
|1912||Christ (940)||Almeta (940)|
|1913||Louise (982)||Louis (974)|
|1914||Stephan (1000)||Vella (1000)|
|1915||Mayo (990)||Dimple (980)|
|1916||Green (929)||Golden (908)|
|1917||Elza (968)||Loyce (984)|
|1918||Curley (998)||Ivory (979)|
|1919||Metro (982)||Louvenia (993)|
|1920||Berry (941)||Merry (934)|
|1921||Reno (969)||Glendora (976)|
|1922||Author (950)||Gaynell (981)|
|1923||Burley (994)||Dorothy (995)|
|1924||Dorman (954)||Mardell (982)|
|1925||Buddie (973)||Bobbye (990)|
|1926||Wardell (929)||Willodean (941)|
|1927||Estel (914)||Gregoria (970)|
|1928||Gust (996)||Hildred (998)|
|1929||Vester (984)||Jettie (953)|
|1930||Otho (972)||Charlsie (951)|
|1931||Early (1000)||Ferne (1000)|
|1932||Dock (928)||Jack (992)|
But the most interesting piece of information I found was the following abstract of research by Jack Dikian, an Australian born Clinical Consultant whose interests include: developmental disability, mood disorders, cognitive neuropsychology and Quantum Psychology.
The Impact Of A Name On Personality by Jack Dikian, April 2010:
Looking at yourself in the mirror – seeing the person you know so well. Better than anyone – this person called Kate, Kelly, or David. Would you feel the same way about yourself if you had a different given name? Would you still see the person you know so well…
Many of us at some point in our lives have wondered what we would be like if we were given a different name. If we went through school with a different name, if our work mates knew met us with a different name. Some of us may even feel that we are more of a Jennifer instead of a Jenny, or a Sarah with a “h” rather than a Sara.
Not only do some of us have strong perceptions about first names and associate them with success, luck and attractiveness, many people walk around with stereotypes in their heads that can influence all sorts of decisions, yet don’t even realise it, however with very real consequences in everyday life.
This is particularly true in some cultures. For example, in the Jewish culture it is accepted that a name does indeed determine someone’s destiny and health in general. Not only does a Jewish person feel that the given name characterizes the person who possesses it, he feels that when he/she gives a newborn son or daughter their given name, that offspring’s basic personality and traits are being defined, and in a sense, his entire approach to life is mapped out for him in advance.
Having a rare name or a very common one must be a very different experience to live with. With a rare name, one may feel a little more special or even unique. With a common name, one is more likely to have friends (or foes) with the same name, which could only change our ego perception associated with our name.
More importantly, living with a name that we like or one that we dislike does have serious consequences on self-confidence, happiness or the way we relate to others in society. For example, what would it be like if you didn’t always get asked to special your name, or even explain your name when meeting people you don’t know.
According Dr Martin Skinner, a social psychologist at Warwick University-England, people by at large make the most of their given name. Dr Skinner says that efforts can overwhelm the impact of a name. The real consequence is not in the actual name itself, but in the intentions behind it,” says Dr Martin Skinner, a social psychologist at Warwick University.
“Names usually reflect parental aspirations, so someone who wants their child to be taken seriously will give them a name that has weight and is not frivolous – whatever class they are.”
A name certainly plays more of a part than we think, according to Dr Wiseman. While many factors influence how we view a name – from liking a successful actor to disliking your boss – these perception can have a very real impact.
Research has shown that such perceptions can become self-fulfilling prophesies, with teachers giving higher marks to children with attractive names and employers being more likely to promote those who sound successful, he says.
George Clooney regularly tops “gorgeous man” polls, yet his is the first name least associated with attractiveness, and luck in love according to studies, as is for Brian and Helen.
According to Wiseman, who, through his research asked more than 6,000 people about their perceptions of the most popular first names in the UK, observed some strong trends. Elizabeth and James are considered the most successful sounding first names, Lucy and Jack the luckiest and Sophie and Ryan the most attractive.
The author is particularly interested in the impact of given names in an ever-shrinking world. Names such as Elizabeth or a James that may be associated with success in the UK, might carry very different perceptions should Elizabeth or James decide to immigrate.
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