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An interesting pattern I saw is how in the past the South had a lot of names that were outmoded for the time still fairly popular - for example Emma in 1950 and Dorothy/Ruby in 1960 (as the maps showed). From when I played around with NameMapper myself I noticed the same with Charles and Henry (for example) on the boy's side in the 1960s. Today this pattern is probably masked by the fact that it's now many high-immigrant areas that are most prone to stick with names that are considered dated, although you'll still see now that Mary is quite a bit more popular in many Southern states than elsewhere. My hypothesis is that the South is big on honoring people and naming after family members, so names like these continue to be recycled there (strangely enough that may also explain how many "gone girl elsewhere" names continue to be semi-popular for boys there).
@Sharalyns - August is already climbing on the boy's side, and fits the "antique revival" pattern. Mae (that spelling) has also recently re-appeard on the Top 1,000 for girls. I think those two and June will continue climbing over the next few years, while April will show the pattern typical of "parent generation" names - a gradual but not steep decline.
Re: Carrie's "early comeback" - I remember you mentioning that your own name, Laura, is another Victorian-era favorite that saw its modern peak in the 1960s-70s as opposed to closer to the turn of the millennium or later like most of the other Victorian revivals.
I think that sometimes a youthful character or other similar icon can speed up an "old" name's comeback, putting its new peak a generation ahead of schedule (when to the generation doing the naming it's a "grandparent" rather than a "great-grandparent" or older name as your book often describes most of the revivals). A good contemporary example I can think of is one I touched on awhile back - Charlotte, whose last prime era was the 1920s-40s which would normally leave it yet to appeal to modern parents but defied the usual rule.
There is now a similar map up for the boys. As I predicted, although there are only three different names that held the top spot nationally, there is more geographic variety (especially in the more recent years) than with the girls (with there being numerous cases of a state's #1 boy's name not even being in the Top 10 nationally, while it's rarer for that to happen on the girl's side).
P.S. Laura Wattenberg, I think the NameMapper could use some updates (I know you and your crew is busy, but it's just a thought). Whenever I run the Java application it gives me a security warning. In addition, as I've touched before, it hasn't been updated since the 2009 names came out and the scope could be extended with the extended state-by-state lists (now available back to 1910 and down to names with at least five uses per gender within each state).
It would be interesting to see the same done with the boys. As has been observed on here before, while there is more variation with girls' names over time compared with the boys, in terms of variance between locations there tends to be more variety with the boys. Or to put it another way, while girls' names are more likely to be tied to a particular generation, boys' names are more likely to be correlated with a particular region. (I've seen this apply both within the U.S. and internationally.)
A practical use for what I mentioned is that if you're trying to avoid a "duplicate name" in your child's class, the state and regional stats are even more important for boys. Just as we tend to overestimate the popularity of names common when we were growing up and underestimate what is common now for babies, a name that seems common or uncommon nationally may be more or less so where you live (and vice versa). While both points apply for both genders, the former shows a more dramatic effect on the pink side and the latter on the blue side.
@another Laura - From people who've shared their experience with having an "out-of-generation" name the advantage you mentioned can work both ways. An "older" name tends to be a benefit when starting out when they may assume you're older, while a "younger" name can be helpful in the later working years like you mentioned.
Comment made in error!
Re: Explaining to the judge why you want to change your name - Simply not liking your name is a good enough reason in most cases. What the courts want to do is make sure you're not trying to change your name for fraudulent reasons (e.g. avoiding debt or trying to cover up a criminal past, so unless you have factors like those against you there shouldn't be a problem changing your name because you don't like it.).
Be careful though - from my research overall gender usage tends to be more competitive with unisex names in the politically right-leaning states compared to the left-leaning ones. In many of the more liberal regions unisex names are more likely to strongly lean towards one gender (and tend to be less common overall). (This is why many of our readers from the U.S. South know some guys with unisex names, to the surprise of what you'd think at first.)
I think if you like those names then go ahead and use them! It might be more of a challenge with for example Ashley (which is common for females but rare for males now) than the ones that have maintained a somewhat significant ranking for boys (such as Avery and Emerson, which although more common for girls still rank for boys too). What you can do if you're worried is make sure the middle name is clearly masculine so he has other options. (By the way this is coming from a guy with a unisex name.)
While not one of my favorites I do like Joan. As for potential revival I think that with its last peak in the 1930s (not quite around under the "100-year rule" yet, but past its fashion low-point) it's one we may see inch back up in a decade or two. (My bets are since it's a single-syllable name that it may be the next Grace or Rose; in other words Joan may become a popular "filler" middle name.)
I'm not a fan of juniors either (unlike the "most fathers" you referred to, even though I'm male myself). The biggest reason I'm against it is for practical reasons - it creates too many likely mix-ups on legal documents and such. If the parent's first name is the child's middle name (or something along those lines) that's fine IMO for either gender, since they won't have the exact same legal name. I most likely wouldn't do an exact junior or anything along those lines though.
Also on this subject (regional and gender differences), I played around with the NameMapper and discovered that many of the traditional, semi-out-of-fashion boy's names such as John, Michael, and Robert continue to be most common in the states along the East Coast (both the Northeast and Deep South), while they are least used in the "Frontier" states. I posit that in the former regions "Juniors" and the like are more common than in the latter (since it's boys named after their fathers or other relatives that continue to prop those kinds of names up).
To see if there was a similar effect on girls, I checked several names that would be considered at least semi-classic over the long term but have dived into fashion limbo. The effect of these kinds of names being less common in the "Frontier" region is also apparent here, but less so than with the boys (further leading to my theory that Jrs. aren't as common there).
Interestingly the South is frequently a holdout with names (of both genders) which would be considered outmoded elsewhere by such time*; for instance Mary is still more popular there than elsewhere, and into the 1960s (as far back as NameMapper goes) names like Dorothy and Helen were still fairly well-used in the South. Also interesting is how in the early NameMapper years names which have skyrocketed elsewhere in recent years like Charlotte and Henry were then among the "Southern holdouts" while now that they've come back into style the South is the region they're least popular in. This leads to another hypothesis that the South is big on recycling family names for both genders compared to other regions.
I've said before that the Northeast has the biggest "gender imbalance" when it comes to attitudes towards boy's vs. girl's names. Here the evidence continues to support that - the "fuddy duddies" I've mentioned for boys still rank fairly high there, but much less so for girls. That forms my hypothesis about that region - people there often feel the need to carry on family names for boys but feel like they can be more creative for girls (while that has traditionally been the overall case the effect is more prominent there).
*The other holdouts are usually states with high immigrant populations, since while the general population may see a name like Jennifer or Linda as stale or boring these names may still sound fresh to someone who doesn't speak English as their first language.
As a side-note related to this topic, do you plan on updating NameMapper anytime soon? The most recent year it covers right now is 2009. In addition, now that state-by-state lists are now available beyond the Top 100 (down to five births per gender) and back to 1910, maybe you could eventually consider expanding the scope of the tool? (That would be helpful for discerning smaller and/or historical regional trends.)
This is similar to what I tell parents who say that they don't want a name that will be as common as Jennifer or Jason (for example) was when they were growing up - by a fairly large margin there are no names as common as those were back then (and probably won't be for quite awhile if ever again based on recent trends). Now if 35 years ago a parent who wanted to name their daughter Jennifer was warned about it being the next Mary or Linda, that would be closer to (but still not quite accurately) the truth.
Another interesting trend is how there are now more girls than boys given the #1 name, whereas for most of the SSA list's history it's been the opposite (although after the very top names we get back to more boys than girls with each name at a corresponding rank). Interestingly, from this somewhat crude source of pre-1880 stats, back then the difference in boys vs. girls that we saw for much of the 20th century was much smaller.
As I said only a limited amount of the book is viewable. If you'd like to know you'll just have to wait until the actual book is out. :)
On Amazon.com the "preview" feature was up, and managed to get a look at a few names before I exhausted the number of pages I could look at (although I've already pre-ordered the book). I like that she now lists some notable namesakes for each name, and lists more sibling names (though weirdly it's six per gender for some names and eight for others, whereas before it was five for all names with entries).
Awhile back I went and calculated the "gender ratio" of several unisex names popular at various points in time in various states; the general trend I've noticed is that although a lot of the states Wattenberg mentions in this post have a reputation for using traditionally masculine names on girls, people in those same regions are also more apt to continue using such names on boys despite also using them for girls. The region most phobic to unisex names for boys is the Northeast (you'll also notice a greater deal of "conformity" with boy's names there compared to the rest of the country, where many "traditional" names that have dropped quite a bit elsewhere are still near the top of the charts). For example, in my home state (one of the ones where the "andro-girly" style is now prevalent) male Kellys (I'm one) are not uncommon, while where Wattenberg lives they are quite rare (with Kelly being one of the classic "Irish-American" names you'd expect more male Kellys there, but the numbers indicate otherwise). West coast states like California (which you'd expect to be the most sexually liberal) come out pretty much neutral in this regard. (If you want to see some actual numbers I have a spreadsheet I prepared a year or two ago with numbers from the SSA's extended state-by-state list.)
Kathleen is one that hasn't been mentioned yet.