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Top Mid-Century Baby Girl Names

While the popular baby boy names didn’t shift too much throughout the 1900s, there was a lot more turnover for the baby girls.

Especially in the mid-century era.

As I mentioned in my post about mid-century baby names for little boys, the 1930s to 1960s time period has a distinct feel that straddles the line between vintage and modern.

And somewhere between Mildred and Jennifer is a list of classic girls’ names that just might be ready to recycle.

Take a look at the most popular baby names for girls between the 1930s and 1960s. All of these names landed in the Top 10 list for one or all of those decades:


  • Mary 1 of 23
    Mary
    Mary dominated the top of the baby name list from the 1900s to the 1960s, holding strong at #1 and #2 until it suddenly fell completely off the Top 10 list in the 1970s. This was thee mid-century (and early-century) name for girls. Too soon for a revival?

    Photo source: IMDB
  • Betty 2 of 23
    Betty
    Betty is a classic vintage name, peaking in popularity throughout the 1930s. Betty ranked as the #2 most popular name (right under Mary) in the 30s until it completely fell off the Top 10 list in the 40s. Betty's been in steep decline ever since, although there are plenty of mid-century references, including Betty Grable, Bette Davis, Betty Crocker, and Betty White, as well as fictional characters Betty Boop, Betty Cooper (of Archie Comics) and Betty Draper. The name Betty ranges from pin-up bombshell to goody-two-shoes to old granny. After falling completely out of the Top 1000 names, I think Betty is just about ready for a major comeback.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Barbara 3 of 23
    Barbara
    Although the name Barbara was only popular back in the 1930s - 1950s, the name doesn't quite feel as vintage as, say, Betty. Is Barbara ready for a revival?

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Shirley 4 of 23
    Shirley
    The name "Shirley" only appeared in the Top 10 list in the 1930s — and I'm betting Shirley Temple, who had all of her box-office stardom in the 1930s, had something to do with it. In fact, IMDB reports that actresses Shirley McClaine and Shirley Jones were named after Shirley Temple.

    Photo source: IMDB
  • Patricia 5 of 23
    Patricia
    Patricia had its peak popularity in the mid-century years, with nicknames Patsy, Patti, Trisha, and Pat.

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Patricia Neal)
  • Dorothy 6 of 23
    Dorothy
    Dorothy was more of an early-century than mid-century baby name (wildly popular in the 1900s - 1930s). Did the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie make the name too iconic?
    Like Betty, I think this vintage name is ready for a revival.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Joan 7 of 23
    Joan
    Although the name Joan only landed on the Top 10 list in the 1930s (right under Dorothy), it's unfortunately most associated with "mommie dearest" Joan Crawford in this time period. But for the record, Joan's real name was Lucille.

    Photo source: IMDB
  • Margaret 8 of 23
    Margaret
    Margaret is another name that was more popular in the early century, falling slightly to #8 before dropping off the Top 10 list in the 1940s. Yet it's still a classic choice.

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Margaret O'Brien)
  • Nancy 9 of 23
    Nancy
    Nancy was a popular name throughout the 1930s to 1950s — perhaps because of the fictional character Nancy Drew?

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Helen 10 of 23
    Helen
    Helen drastically dropped in popularity between the 1920s and 1940s, but it's still most identified with this early-to-mid-century era. (Another name that I'm sure is ready to be recycled.)

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Helen Hayes)
  • Linda 11 of 23
    Linda
    Linda inexplicably shot up to the #2 spot in the 1940s (never making the Top 10 list earlier). It stayed pretty popular throughout the 50s and 60s before completely dropping off the Top 10 list in the 70s.

    Photo source: IMDB (Linda Christian)
  • Carol 12 of 23
    Carol
    It appears that the name Carol was uniquely popular in the 1940s, never appearing in the Top 10 list before or after this decade. Yet it held a firm #5 spot in the 40s.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Sandra 13 of 23
    Sandra
    Just like the name Carol, Sandra only made the Top 10 list in the 1940s and it's been in decline ever since — even with vintage icons like Sandra Dee and modern stars like Sandra Bullock.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Sharon 14 of 23
    Sharon
    And yet again, the name Sharon was uniquely popular in the 1940s. Yet it was good enough for Walt Disney, who had a daughter named Sharon Mae.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Judith 15 of 23
    Judith
    Another name for the 40s: Judith briefly had a moment in this decade — and only in this decade.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Susan 16 of 23
    Susan
    Susan was mega popular in the 50s and 60s, most notably inspired by the 50s movie star Susan Hayward and The Partridge Family's Susan Dey — both stunningly gorgeous.

    Photo source: IMDB
  • Deborah/Debra 17 of 23
    Deborah/Debra
    This was such a popular name in the 1950s that it made the list twice: Deborah at #5 and Debra at #7. Yet it never appeared on the Top 10 list in any other decade.

    Photo source: IMDB (Debbie Reynolds)
  • Karen 18 of 23
    Karen
    The name Karen had a brief moment in the spotlight in the 50s and 60s.

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Karen Valentine)
  • Donna 19 of 23
    Donna
    Although it wasn't quite as popular as Karen, Donna was another name that rose to popularity in the 50s and 60s.

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Lisa 20 of 23
    Lisa
    Maybe it was because of the popular soap character Lisa Grimaldi (from As The World Turns), but the name Lisa inexplicably shot up to the #1 spot in the 1960s, having never made the Top 10 list before. #1!

    Photo source: Wikipedia
  • Kimberly 21 of 23
    Kimberly
    The 60s saw a distinct shift in girl names, which is when we first saw the name Kimberly enter the Top 10 — debuting at an impressive #5.

    Photo source: IMDB (Kim Novak)
  • Michelle 22 of 23
    Michelle
    Michelle also rose to popularity in the 60s — which is when my mom fell in love with the name. Yet by the time I came along in the 80s, Michelle had officially dropped off the Top 10 list.

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Michelle Pfeiffer)
  • Cynthia 23 of 23
    Cynthia
    Another 60s favorite, Cynthia ranked #10 in popularity for the decade.

    Photo source: Wikipedia (Cindy Crawford)

See all of the Top Baby Names of the Century at The Bump.

Also check out the most popular mid-century baby names for boys.

 

***

 

Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.

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