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Turn-of-the-Century Names

One of the most prevalent trends right now is the use of old-fashioned names that hearken back to the turn-of-the-century (the 20th century that is!). These names carry a certain antique style and vintage charm. They also tend to be timeless and classic choices for the more traditional parent.

This trend is especially ubiquitous among baby girls being born in the 21st century; one only need look at the list of the ten most popular baby girls today. In fact, the only two names on the list which weren’t in favor around the year 1900 are Madison and Mia. All other Top 10 female names in 2011 were quite common over 100 years ago: Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail and Chloe.

For baby boys, American parents historically have tended to be a little more conservative in their naming practices. Still, there are less “old-fashioned” names currently on the Top Ten list for boys. William, Michael, Alexander and Daniel are the ones we’d consider with timeless appeal and consistent popular usage over the centuries. Names like Jacob, Ethan and Noah are ancient Biblical names, but they were not particularly favored at the turn of the 20th century. Jayden and Mason are super modern, and while Aiden is a derivative of an ancient Irish name (Aodhan), it is by no means a timeless classic here in America.

So how exactly did we come up with our list? First of all, we looked the Top 100 names on the American popularity charts in the year 1900 and compared them to the names we see gaining favor right now in the 21st century. Secondly, we drew out names that sounded particularly “old lady” or “old man”. Sort of like the folks one might picture at the Tuesday Night Bridge or Bingo game at the local Senior Center (e.g., Ruby, Esther, Walter and Saul). Thirdly, we looked at the timeless classics which are noncontroversial staples among the American tradition of names (Henry, Robert, John, Catherine, Mary and Julia, for example). In every case, we selected the most common English spelling, so by clicking on any given name below, you will find other spelling variations and language translations (such as the Spanish equivalent) under “Variations of the Name” section on the name page.

Boy Turn-of-the-Century Names

Girl Turn-of-the-Century Names

Unisex Turn-of-the-Century Names

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