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Looking back a century: The top baby names from 1914

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

How the most popular baby names change over time

Things were very different back in 1914. The world was at war, industry was just beginning to grow and high tech gadgets were nonexistent.

Exactly 100 years ago, life-changing events were taking place around the world:

  • Henry Ford introduced the Model T assembly line at Ford Motor Company.
  • Beverly Hills, California, was established.
  • Charlie Chaplin debuted "The Tramp."
  • The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial was put into place.
  • The first successful blood transfusion was accomplished in Brussels.
  • Babe Ruth pitched his first professional game.
  • Congress approved the first Mother's Day.
  • The foxtrot was introduced by Harry Fox in New York City.
  • The New York post office building opened to the public.

The names parents gave to their sons looked somewhat different, too. The top 10 boy names in 1914 were:

  1. John (which ranks No. 27 today)
  2. William (No. 5)
  3. James (No. 13)
  4. Robert (No. 62)
  5. Joseph (No. 20)
  6. George (No. 157)
  7. Charles (No. 57)
  8. Edward (No. 145)
  9. Frank (No. 327)
  10. Walter (No. 342)

Other popular names for males included traditional monikers such as Thomas, David, Harry, Henry, Paul and Richard, along with the now unfashionable Ralph, Clarence, Irving, Willie, Ernest, Elmer, Herbert, Lester, Floyd, Melvin, Milton, Cecil, Vernon, Gordon and Woodrow.

The names parents gave to their daughters were markedly different than they are today. While many vintage names are making a comeback, most of 1914's top girl names have yet to fall back into favor.

  1. Mary (currently ranked No. 121)
  2. Helen (No. 409)
  3. Dorothy (No. 808)
  4. Margaret (No. 181)
  5. Ruth (No. 329)
  6. Ana (No. 35)
  7. Mildred (not ranked)
  8. Elizabeth (No. 10)
  9. Frances (No. 693)
  10. Marie (No. 573)

Some of the girl names that are being restored include Hattie, Evelyn, Pearl, Rose, Lillian, Ruby, Hazel and Grace. It may be a while, however, before some of the unique antique gems make their way back onto the scene: Florence, Edna, Gladys, Ethel, Edith, Gertrude, Esther, Doris, Beatrice, Bertha, Agnes, Ida, Jean, Viola, Blanche, Beulah and Myrtle.

It's interesting to take a look at where today's most popular names ranked on the charts way back then. Only William and Elizabeth make the top 10 list in both 2014 and 1914. Other names, such as Jayden and Madison, didn't even exist 100 years ago.

  1. Noah (No. 361 in 1914) and Sophia (No. 229 in 1914)
  2. Liam (not ranked) and Emma (No. 39)
  3. Jacob (No. 113) and Olivia (No. 285)
  4. Mason (No. 522) and Isabella (No. 389)
  5. William (No. 2) and Ava (No. 434)
  6. Ethan (not ranked) and Mia (not ranked)
  7. Michael (No. 40) and Emily (No. 98)
  8. Alexander (No. 98) and Abigail (not ranked)
  9. Jayden (not ranked) and Madison (not ranked)
  10. Daniel (No. 55) and Elizabeth (No. 8)

More baby name ideas

Old-fashioned baby names: Classic and cultured
Retro baby names for boys and girls
Vintage baby names to inspire you

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