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Most popular baby names for girls the year you were born

  • Most popular baby names for girls the year you were born

    Society is a dynamic and ever-evolving phenomenon. People can follow changes and trends throughout time by looking at how fashion and music changes—and why. But another way of observing changes in society is by analyzing the names that parents give to their newborn babies. Of course, people name their children for different reasons, but the most important factors include religion, popular culture, and more simply, the names other people are giving their children.

    Even though there have been so many women in history who have achieved amazing things, it seems that little girls’ names are mostly popularized by the stars of the entertainment industry: a child actress who was a beacon of hope during the Great Depression; the name that a famous singer named his own daughter; the title of a popular song; and the name that fictional characters gave their baby in a sitcom.

    Stacker examined the Social Security Administration’s data on baby names to determine the most common names for baby girls from 1915 to 2019. Additionally there was a little extra digging to glean insights on why these names were used so much at the time. See if you can guess the reasons behind the popularity—some are obvious, but others may surprise you.

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  • 1915–1919

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Helen
    - #3 girls' name: Dorothy

    Mary topped the list of popular names from 1915–1919, and had, in fact, been the most popular for many centuries well before that. At the time its popularity arose from its religious significance—Mary is the Anglicised form of the name Maria, which in turn derives from the Hebrew name Miriam, who was the mother of Jesus in the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an. Mary Anderson, best known for her roles in “Gone with the Wind” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat,” was born in 1918.

  • 1920–1924

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Dorothy
    - #3 girls' name: Helen

    Mary kept the top spot while the second most popular name was Dorothy, originally a Greek name meaning “gift of god.” In the 1920s people started naming their children after figures in popular culture, and Dorothy was a common name of many actresses in the silent movie era, like Dorothy MacKaill, and one baby girl born 1922 was Dorothy Dandridge, the first Black actress to be nominated for an Academy Award. At #3 was Helen, originally a Greek name, meaning “shining light.”

  • 1925–1927

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Dorothy
    - #3 girls' name: Betty

    While Mary and Dorothy stayed on top, the third spot was replaced by Betty. It had previously been only a nickname for Elizabeth, but during the 1920s Betty was actually the most popular nickname that became used as a formal first name, fit for the flapper era, when actresses like Betty Compson and Betty Bronson, whose names were actually Eleanor and Elizabeth, started using Betty as their stage names. In 1927 Betty Harford was born, who went on to gain fame through her roles in “The Twilight Zone.”

  • 1928–1931

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Betty
    - #3 girls' name: Dorothy

    Mary didn't go anywhere, partly thanks to the influx of Catholic immigrants over the prior decades including until the 1930s. Betty was at #2 and at #3 was Dorothy, the name of author and playwright of fantasy and feminist works Dorothy Bryant, born in 1930.

  • 1932–1934

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Betty
    - #3 girls' name: Barbara

    Barbara Hutton, heiress and debutante with her jewels, handsome suitors, and glamour, was certainly an inspiration for Barbara coming in on the top three list. One great Barbara born in 1934 was Barbara McNair, one of the first Black women to host her own television variety show in the 1950s. Mary and Betty stayed on top.

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  • 1935–1936

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Shirley
    - #3 girls' name: Barbara

    Thirty-five thousand baby girls were name Shirley in 1936, after Shirley Temple, who was in her heyday as Hollywood’s favorite child actor. The country was deep in the Great Depression and people saw the curly-haired girl as a sign of optimism. Mary remained the most popular name and Barbara was at #3 yet again.

  • 1937–1943

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Barbara
    - #3 girls' name: Patricia

    Patricia, meaning “noble” in Latin, came in as the third most popular name, behind Barbara. These were tense years, when the U.S. was leading up to, and getting involved in, World War II. Mary, which was still at the top, was the name given to Mary Wells, the singer who would later be one of the people to define the sounds of Motown in the 1960s.

  • 1944

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Barbara
    - #3 girls' name: Linda

    With Mary and Barbara holding #1 and #2, Linda—meaning “soft” in the Germanic language family and "beautiful" in Spanish and Portuguese—was the third most popular name. Renowned photographer Linda Connor was born this year.

  • 1945

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Linda
    - #3 girls' name: Barbara

    Barbara had moved into third but still remained popular possible thanks to the fame of actress Barbara O’Neil, known for “Gone with the Wind.” Mary remained at #1 and Linda in second place, which was the name given to actress Linda Hunt in that year.

  • 1946

    - #1 girls' name: Mary
    - #2 girls' name: Linda
    - #3 girls' name: Patricia

    Linda Ronstadt, the pop and country musician who went on to sell 100 million albums, was born this year. It was an exciting year: The war was over, it was the beginning of the baby boom era, and the bikini first debuted. Patricia came back into the picture, which could probably be attributed to the growing fame of actress Patricia Neal, and Mary held on tight to the top, although her days were numbered.

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