The Naming Map of the United States
A confession: I have never personally met a girl named Madison.
I know they're out there, tens of thousands of them. And having daughters in preschool and kindergarten, I meet plenty of little girls. But where I live the fad for androgynous surnames is just a distant rumor. Around here we're ensconced in another naming era altogether, surrounded by Amelias and Julians, Charlies and Sophies.
Every region follows its own threads of fashion. To get a handle on American naming style, perhaps what you need isn't a list but a map.
As it happens, I have such a map. Readers with long memories may even recall that I promised it to share it with you last year. But this is one big country, and its naming map just didn't fit the cozy confines of my blog. After wrestling with it for a time, I've given up and and granted the map its own page.
First, some background. To identify a state's characteristic naming style, I looked for names that were significantly more popular in that state than in the nation overall. That means the most characteristic names of state might not be the most popular names. For instance, Emma is the #1 girl's name in Mississippi, Mary is #11. But Mary is more characteristic of Mississippi's distinctive style because that #11 ranking is unusually high.
You'll also see that certain states fall into two different style streams. Maine, for instance, combines the New England neotraditional sound with the "frontier" style of other sparsely-populated states from West Virginia to Wyoming.
And now, visit the map at http://www.babynamewizard.com/map.html. Then come back here and, as always, give me an earful.