Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ten Names for Girls?

Posted by on September 9, 2014 in Family HistoryBaby girl namesMuch like fashion, baby names follow trends. These days, classic-sounding names like Olivia, Sophia, and Ava are in vogue, but some more traditional names that were once on top have completely fallen to the wayside.

Now, a name like Minnie (which you may come across frequently if you are digging around your Ancestry family tree in the late 1800s) is probably only associated with young people wearing T-shirts at Disney World. That said, female names seem to vary wildly in popularity, while many of the most popular male names over the years stand the test of time. There are some monikers like Ernest, Norman, or Bernard that sound retro but all still managed to rank within the top 1,000 names in 2013 according to the Social Security Administration.

So if you are looking through your family history hoping to come across a name that will make your little girl stand out, here are a few formerly popular names that are practically nonexistent now.

Betty: Throughout the 1930s, Betty was second only to Mary among girl names, but has been on a steady decline since 1940.

Ethel: Strong showing during the 1890s, hitting 8th place, slipped to 12th in the 1900s, then dropped to 80th the following decade and never recovered.

Tammy: This female moniker skyrocketed out of nowhere in the 1960s and landed in the 13th spot. But by the 1990s, it was no longer in the top 200 and has all but disappeared since then.

Dorothy: In the 1920s Dorothy was all the rage (way before The Wizard of Oz) and peaked in the No. 2 spot, but since then, this name has slipped significantly. While it still merits a place in the top 1,000, it was most recently ranked at 808. The similar Doris (13th in the 1930s) has also been ignored over the past 15 years, not even making the top 1,000.

Ida: This classic name was the 7th-most-popular female name during the 1880s, but then slipped into disuse in subsequent decades.

Mildred: The name peaked at 6th place during the 1910s and held strong through the 1920s, but then went on a rapid decline.

Edna: It never quite reached top 10 popularity, but it was a strong contender from the 1880s all the way through the 1920s before it started sounding old-fashioned.

Gladys: Managed to crack the top 20 at the turn of the century, but dropped off by the 1910s.

Florence: For almost five decades, Florence managed to stay in (or very close to the top 20), but by the 1930s, the name was losing favor.

Bertha: In the 1880s, this name was the 8th-most-popular female name for the entire decade and then took a slow downturn. Now we think of Bertha — and Bessie, which followed a similar popularity arc — as a name more regularly associated with farm animals!

—Angel Cohn

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