Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Cool Finds


Ever wondered why your mom picked the name Lisa for you? Or Michelle? Or why everyone you know born in the 1970’s is seemingly named Jennifer? Was it due to some historical event taking place during that time? Were you named after a movie star or a character in a popular TV show? Or was it because your mom saw a newborn named Angela in the hospital, loved the name so much that she felt that was the right name for you too? After seeing the maps below, it might be time to ask why.

Thanks to data from the Social Security Administration and some clever work of Michael Shackleford, Reuben Fischer-Baum and the folks at The Atlantic, we have these lovely maps that show the most popular baby names for girls broken out by state and year, for babies born from 1960 through 2012. The colors represent the most popular single name for that year.

In 1968, the name Lisa was the most popular name in all but seven states.

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From 1973 to 1978, Jennifer had to honor of being the number one name in the entire Nation.

Map_ Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Girls, State-by-State

See all years from 1960 to 2012 here. Compliments of The Atlantic.


The author of the original article (on Jezebel), Reuben Fischer-Baum, notes:

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

The Social Security Administration has more lists available, including popular baby boy names, and you can search by the following:

For those of you interested in top names in International markets, check this out.


Why do you think certain names were popular at certain times?


About Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's Head of Global Social Media and Online Support Community and is responsible for developing and managing the company's social media and social business offerings worldwide. She works with a team of community managers, genealogists and social content developers to help educate Ancestry's existing customers, inspire new family historians and expand awareness into new social audiences and communities. She has a deep love of family history and is currently trying to break through the brick wall of her Christophier line (that was supposedly French and Catalan, but it seems was really the Christopher's from Iowa) and to one day prove where the heck William Wells of Southhold, NY (b. 1608) was really born.


kathleen smith 

Lisa Marie Presley was born Februsry 1st 1968. I wonder if that had anything to do with the names popularity that year?

October 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm
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October 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm
Jennifer Wathen 

Well, I was born in 1968 and my name is Jennifer, so I guess my parents were trend setters! 😉

October 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Fun post.

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