123 Popular Names in the 1920s: Unique Baby Names for 2024

Last Updated: January 19th, 2024 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

I find history fascinating, and looking up something as seemingly mundane as what people named their children can be quite entertaining.

Unique Baby Names from the 1920s

Popular baby names come about for a variety of reasons and not just because “everyone” is naming their baby “X”.

With a close friend having a child soon, I became interested in what people named their children in the Jazz Age and why.

The Roaring 20s were a fascinating time, and I couldn’t help but wonder- Would you name your baby boy Alphonse because of Al Capone? Elliot because of Eliot Ness? Or would you avoid names like those and go for something else, such as Louise for actress Louise Brooks? Or how about Clara for Clara Bow?

I found some really mind-boggling facts about why people gave certain names to their children during this decade, and you’ll be shocked at what I found.

What Were The 3 Most Popular Baby Names in the 1920s?

infographic listing the top 3 Most Popular Baby boy and girl Names in the 1920s

Let’s start with the top 3 most common baby names from this era.

Popular Boy Names:

  1. Robert
  2. John
  3. James

Yes, in that order. I’ll tell you why these 3 names came out on top a bit later on.  If you want to see more be sure to check out my other article: Popular 1920s Boys Names

Popular Girl Names:

  1. Mary
  2. Dorothy
  3. Helen

I was surprised at this myself. If Mary was the top name of the 1920s, why wasn’t Joseph a top 3 favorite baby name as well? I guess I was assuming that Mary was biblical in nature, but that isn’t the case. If you want to see more be sure to check out my other article:  Popular 1920s Girls Names

Other Common Names from the 1920s in America?

top 54 girl names from the 1920s

The top 54 girl names from 1920s are as follows:

  • Mary
  • Dorothy
  • Helen
  • Margaret
  • Ruth
  • Mildred
  • Virginia
  • Elizabeth
  • Frances
  • Anna
  • Betty
  • Evelyn
  • Marie
  • Doris
  • Alice
  • Florence
  • Irene
  • Lillian
  • Louise
  • Rose
  • Edna
  • Catherine
  • Gladys
  • Josephine
  • Ruby
  • Edith
  • Esther
  • Martha
  • Clara
  • Eleanor
  • Pauline
  • Beatrice
  • Grace
  • Theresa
  • Vivian
  • Stella
  • Winifred
  • Julia
  • Myrtle
  • Maxine
  • Norma
  • June
  • Constance
  • Evelyn
  • Alma
  • Elsie
  • Marion
  • Audrey
  • Lois
  • Irene
  • Marjorie
  • Jean
  • Bernice
  • Alberta

Some of these names you’ll notice right away because they are actually still popular 100 years later, such as Rose, Elizabeth, Margaret and Evelyn. Other names from this list have fallen out of favor, including Mildred, Frances, and Florence.

top 69 boys names from 1920's

The top 69 boys names from the 1920s are:

  • Robert
  • John
  • James
  • William
  • Charles
  • George
  • Joseph
  • Edward
  • Frank
  • Richard
  • Thomas
  • Harold
  • Walter
  • Paul
  • Raymond
  • Donald
  • Henry
  • Arthur
  • Albert
  • Jack
  • Carl
  • Chester
  • Clifford
  • Douglas
  • Earl
  • Edwin
  • Elmer
  • Floyd
  • Fred
  • Gerald
  • Gilbert
  • Herman
  • Howard
  • Irving
  • Jerome
  • Julius
  • Lawrence
  • Leo
  • Lester
  • Lloyd
  • Melvin
  • Milton
  • Morris
  • Nathan
  • Oscar
  • Roy
  • Sidney
  • Stanley
  • Vernon
  • Victor
  • Warren
  • Wilbur
  • Eugene
  • Allen
  • Ralph
  • Leon
  • Samuel
  • Bernard
  • Kenneth
  • Leslie
  • Andrew
  • Daniel
  • Patrick
  • Charlie
  • Jesse
  • Ray
  • Louis
  • Ernest
  • Stephen

Like the girls names, many of these are still in use today. I bet you have relatives or friends named Thomas, William, John, and Robert.

However, names like Albert, Arthur, and Harold aren’t what they used to be.

Why Have Some Names Remained Popular for Nearly 100 years?

It appears that, especially when speaking of male names, some names remain because they are classic, easy to remember, and enduring names passed down from father to son (John Jr, John the 3rd, etc.)

Other names remain popular because they remind the parents of relatives they loved deeply or perhaps someone who had passed away. I won’t be surprised if you named your daughter Mary after your grandmother, for example, or perhaps you named your baby after your best friend Dorothy.

People have many reasons for naming their children, and classic names from the 1920s appear to be making a comeback.

What Were the Top Baby Names in the 1820s?

This one is quite the shocker. I wasn’t really surprised that baby names hadn’t changed that much in 100 years. After all, if you imagine someone having a baby when they were 20, this means that only 5 generations had passed.

Popular Names in the 1820s

This means that you probably had an uncle or grandpa Robert, which means you might want to name your baby after that favorite relative.

However, we have a hard time reading the books that were written 200 years ago (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, for example), let alone know what names were popular back then. Surely times changed, and so did names, right?

Not really.

The top 3 boys’ names from 1800-1850 were:

  1. John
  2. William
  3. James

For girls, the top 3 names from this period were:

  1. Mary
  2. Elizabeth
  3. Sarah

I seriously thought there would be more of a change, but the facts show otherwise.

Possible Reasons Behind the Popularity of Some Names from the 1920s

If you weren’t naming your baby after a close friend or relative, what other reason might you have for naming your baby Robert or Elizabeth?

a monument of King Robert I of Scotland, Robert a popular name in the 1920s

Robert was a popular choice for several reasons. Many kings, dukes, and noblemen were named Robert. The meaning behind the name could be because it means fame and/or bright, and who wouldn’t want that for their child?

Lastly, it could have been because of the popularity of King Robert the 1st of Scotland. In 2020, Robert is number 62 on a list of top 100 boys’ names.

John was a popular choice mainly because of its biblical connections. However, the popularity of this name could be because many movie stars were also named John, such as John Barrymore.

John has long been a traditional name that is easy to remember, and sometimes, it’s the easy choice!

James is much like John in that it has biblical connections. Famous persons from this era with the name of James include James Cagney. James is still quite common, and in 2020, it is still listed as #7 on a list of the top 100 boys’ names.

Mary Pickford, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front, Moody, N.Y.
Mary Pickford, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front Moody, N.Y. by Rufus Porter Moody

Mary, of course, was popular due to its biblical connections as well. Mary was actually the #1 girl’s name from 1800-1961. In recent years, Mary has finally fallen out of favor. The name doesn’t even make the top 100 list in 2020. After centuries of overuse, the name Mary is considered boring by many parents.

In the 1920s, however, stars like Mary Pickford made the name popular.

Dorothy became popular in the 1920s due to the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but it was a popular name long before this. As far back as the 7th century, Dorothy was named patron saint to florists and gardeners. People named their daughters Dorothy imagining that she would be a “child of the forest” and that she would be protected during hard times.

I personally never thought of the name Dorothy that way, but when you say “a child of the forest”, that does sound nice, doesn’t it?

When you think of Helen, do you first think of Helen of Troy? Helen was considered semi-divine in Greek mythology, and her name means bright, shining light.

Saint Helena was the mother of Constantine, often said to be the father of Christianity. Sadly, the name Helen has gone out of fashion and was listed as number 440 in 2020 with only 701 girls named Helen.

What Were Some Uncommon Names from the 1920s?

Uncommon 1920s name

Popular names in the 1920s are pretty easy to find, and they haven’t changed too much for the past 200 years at least!

If you are looking for a unique name from this era, consider some of these uncommon names from the Roaring 20s.

Unique 1920s Names For Boys

  1. Virgil– This is a Latin name meaning bearer of the staff (an important dude I suppose!)
  2. Eugene– A Greek name meaning noble
  3. Earl– An English name meaning nobleman
  4. Carl– A German name meaning a free man
  5. Herbert– A German name meaning illustrious warrior (wow!)

Unique 1920s Names For Girls

  1. Marjorie– Not the herb like you might think, this Scottish name means pearl.
  2. Lorraine– A French name meaning from Lothar’s Kingdom (look up that one for a bit of a history lesson)
  3. Opal– A Sanskrit word meaning gem
  4. Lois– A Greek word meaning most desirable- now there’s a name for a woman!
  5. Norma– Latin for ruler

Unisex 1920s Names

You could also try some unisex names that were popular in the 1920s, such as :

  • Jordan– Remember Jordan Baker from The Great Gatsby?
  • Avis– A personal favorite, it means bird.
  • Willie– This was used for both males and females in the 1920s, but today it’s more of a male name and a nickname of William.
  • Cash– Always popular
  • Jazz– Popular in the 1920s because of the music but what a great name for the 2020s.
  • Rene– French for reborn, this is an awesome name for men and women.

I love the unisex names from the 1920s. They would be awesomely popular baby names in any era but especially in the 2020s, when so many kids are named Ashley, Bella, Sophia, Noah, Henry, and Ethan.

Before You Go ….

History buffs will find popular baby names interesting as some names have changed very little.

If you’ve got a little one on the way, I hope you found the perfect 1920s timeless baby names on my list to be useful.

Did you find your own name? It’s always fun to find your name among the popular girls names or boys names from a particular time period.

Get your Robert, Mary, Jordan, or Avis on, and let your child’s name go down in history as one of the most popular (or most unusual)!

123 Popular Names in the 1920s: Unique Baby Names for 2024
123 Popular Names in the 1920s: Unique Baby Names for 2024
Whether you are a history buff or going to have a baby, looking at popular names from 100 years ago can be very interesting. Find popular 1920s names here.
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