Visit nearly any baby name forum and it’s amazing how often you’ll hear variations on one comment:
Give your kid a normal name!
I’d like to put forward a simple tenet of baby naming: there is no such thing as normal.
The definition of normal is regular; conforming to the common type. The best measure of this then, must be the Top 20 – or perhaps 50 – names, and thanks to the Social Security Administration, data on “normal” names is readily available.
Scan it for a few minutes, and I’m sure you’ll agree: just like hemlines have always varied, baby names have come in and out of vogue. With the exception of a very few names – mostly for boys – the Top 50 are far from a stable list.
In 1906, the following names were normal:
- For girls, Mildred (#9), Ethel (#11), Gladys (#16), Gertrude (#22), Bertha (#25), Thelma (#31) and Myrtle (#37).
- For boys, Walter (#12), Willie (#13 no, not William – just Willie!), Clarence (#18), Fred (#20), Roy (#24), Ernest (#28) and Elmer (#42).
No fair, you say? That’s too far back to find a true measure of normal?