The Most Popular Baby Names 100 Years Ago

Gone are the days when Marys and Margarets reigned supreme.

In 1920, Prohibition was in full swing, women had just been granted the right to vote, and commercial radio was just starting to take off. It's wild to think about how far America has come in 100 years—how much has changed, and yet, how much has stayed the same.

For comparison, we looked through the Social Security Administration's baby name database to see what Americans were naming their kids the year Amelia Earhart took her first flight.

Wondering what the baby name landscape looked like in 1920? Here are the top 25 monikers for boys and girls.

Baby Boy in Bathtub Vintage
George Marks/Getty Images

The Most Popular Baby Names From 1920

It turns out that names like William, James, and Elizabeth have been going strong for more than a century, while the Mildreds and Alberts of the world appear to have fallen on hard times.

The 25 Most Popular Girl Names From 1920

  • Mary
  • Dorothy
  • Helen
  • Margaret
  • Ruth
  • Mildred
  • Virginia
  • Elizabeth
  • Frances
  • Anna
  • Betty
  • Evelyn
  • Marie
  • Doris
  • Alice
  • Florence
  • Irene
  • Lillian
  • Louise
  • Rose
  • Catherine
  • Gladys
  • Martha
  • Marjorie
  • Eleanor

The 25 Most Popular Boy Names From 1920

  • John
  • William
  • Robert
  • James
  • Charles
  • George
  • Joseph
  • Edward
  • Frank
  • Richard
  • Thomas
  • Harold
  • Walter
  • Paul
  • Raymond
  • Donald
  • Henry
  • Arthur
  • Albert
  • Jack
  • Harry
  • Ralph
  • Kenneth
  • Howard
  • David

The Top Names From the Last 100 Years

These names are the overall top 25 names from 1922 to 2021, according to the Social Security Administration. In the last 100 years, James and Mary have held the No. 1 spot, which are classic Biblical names.

The Top 25 Girl Names From the Last 100 Years

  • Mary
  • Patricia
  • Jennifer
  • Linda
  • Elizabeth
  • Barbara
  • Susan
  • Jessica
  • Sarah
  • Karen
  • Lisa
  • Nancy
  • Betty
  • Margaret
  • Sandra
  • Ashley
  • Kimberly
  • Emily
  • Donna
  • Michelle
  • Carol
  • Amanda
  • Dorothy
  • Melissa
  • Deborah

The Top 25 Boy Names From the Last 100 Years

  • James
  • Robert
  • John
  • Michael
  • David
  • William
  • Richard
  • Thomas
  • Charles
  • Christopher
  • Daniel
  • Matthew
  • Anthony
  • Mark
  • Donald
  • Steven
  • Paul
  • Andrew
  • Joshua
  • Kenneth
  • Kevin
  • Brian
  • George
  • Timothy

How to Pick a Classic Baby Name

once you decide on an approach—like classic or timeless baby names— you can focus on whittling down the list. For a baby name that has some roots, choose a name after a special family member, which is a long-standing Southern tradition, or a historical figure from the past you admire. When a baby name comes from a special person, it becomes more meaningful and adds a sense of legacy to your family.

More Timeless and Historical Baby Name Ideas

If having a connection with the past is important to you for naming your baby, learn the meaning behind these centuries-old names and who they are connected to in history. For names that reflect one's faith, explore these Biblical names from the Old Testament for boys and girls and their significance. There are also timeless Southern baby names that we will always treasure. Vintage names are making a comeback too—drawn from everything from literary works and royal family members to your own family tree—with deep origins you can pass on to the next generation.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles