Summary: How to use and peruse the amazing free database of U.S. baby names at the Social Security Administration - easily find the most popular names for any year or decade at this powerful but easy website.
Did you know that the top 3 boy names in 2006 were Jacob, Michael & Joshua, and top 3 girl names were Emily, Emma & Madison? Well, maybe you did, but how about the top 3 in 1960, or 1890?
Want to know the 1960 and 1890 top names? I'll tell you in a moment, but then read on to learn how to find and use the database yourself to find top 100 baby names, so you can see the top 50 or even top 1000 names for any year or decade. You can even see them listed by state. (you can also see these same reports right here at KeepandShare
Okay, here you go: the top 3 names in 1960 for boys were David, Michael and James, and for girls were Mary, Susan and Linda; the top 3 names in 1890 for boys were John, William and James, and for girls were Mary, Anna and Elizabeth.Finding the SSA Baby Name Database
It's easy to find the database and get your top 100 baby names, just type www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ into your browser's address bar, or you can search for the database - in Google the SSA database website comes up #1 when you search for 'social security baby names'. Using the Database
The database is surprisingly easy to use. Our government should get thanks for providing such a friendly service for top 100 baby names. The main page at www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/ gives you four different searches you can perform.
- Popular Names by Birth Year - this report lets you see the top names for one year, and you can ask for the exact statistical data (percent of total births or number of births) to be shown for each name. This is the report to use for top 100 baby names.
- Popularity of a Name - this report lets you see how the popularity of a name has changed over time. For instance, type in 'Michael' and ask to see it over 100 year time span, and you'll see how it ranked each of the last 100 years. In fact 'Michael' was not so popular 100 years ago (it was #48 in 1907), but it was the number 1 most popular boy name every year but one from 1954 through 1998 - quite a streak!
- Top 5 names by State - this report is really fun? Do they use different names in Alabama than they do in Maine? You bet! Select a year and see the top 5 names for each of the 50 states. You can also click on a link to see the top 100 names by state.
- Top 1000 names by decade - just pick a decade and you'll see the top 1000 names averaged across the entire decade. This is your 'big picture' view.
For each of these searches you just fill in 1 or 2 fields and click on the Go button. Tips on Printing & Copying
If you want to print out a page of top 100 baby names, a useful tip is to select just the names or the table of names you want and then in your browser's print dialogue choose 'Selection' -- the browser will only print the highlighted selection. Or you can just print the entire webpage - they seem to come out nicely formatted. You can also select names or an entire table and copy it to your clipboard (Ctrl-C in Windows) and then paste it into a word processor.