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Most popular baby names from the Gilded Age

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Anna Goroshnikova // Shutterstock

Most popular baby names from the Gilded Age

Mark Twain coined the term "Gilded Age” to describe the period between the end of the Civil War and the turn of the next century, where tumultuous social and political changes were masked by impressive technological innovations and the prominence of the United States on an international scale. The time was marked by the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, which allowed Americans to traverse the country with relative ease and speed and even resettle in a different area if they chose to do so.

The Gilded Age also marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which sped up the rate of urbanization and saw more people working in factories than on farms for the first time in the country’s history.

As these facets of culture shifted, so too did various trends associated with the time, including popular names. Many of the names popular in the Gilded Age followed the so-called “hundred-year rule,” which is the idea that the same names rise and wane in popularity over 100 years. As such, some of the most common baby names at the end of the 19th century were names that had simply resurfaced from the previous century.

Writer Edith Wharton, who was born in 1862 and died in 1937, was one of the first people to write about the Gilded Age, and the names she gave the characters in her novels greatly influenced the names that parents chose for her children. Some—like the name Bertha—became immensely popular, while other names she gave her characters largely existed only in the text of her novels, like Effie, Abner, Newland, and Agathon.

To determine the most popular baby names of the Gilded Age, Stacker used data from the Social Security Administration’s Baby Names Database, which includes baby name popularity going back to 1880.

Historians generally associate the Gilded Age with the 1870s through the 1890s, but for this story, we used data from 1880 to 1900 to rank Gilded Age baby names. Each slide also includes the most popular and least popular years for each name (i.e. the years in which the most and least babies were given this name) and the name’s rank in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.

Read on to find out which names were most fashionable at the turn of the century—some of which could be making a reappearance today.

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#25. Girl: Gertrude

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 33,579 (Average: 1,599 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #23; 2,580 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #25; 787 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #5,423 (23 babies born)

The name Gertrude has its roots in Germany and means, “strength of a spear.” Although the name peaked in popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it actually has historic origins. Gertrude was a goddess in Norse mythology and was the name of Hamlet’s mother in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Gertrude peaked on the baby name list in the U.S. in 1900 at #23, during the era of writer Gertrude Stein and actress Gertrude Lawrence.

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#25. Boy: Ernest

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 15,589 (Average: 742 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #30; 1,012 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #25; 571 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #976 (210 babies born)

Ernest was introduced in England by the German House of Hanover in the 18th century, but the name didn’t become popular until later. Writer Oscar Wilde famously named one of the characters Ernest in his 1895 play, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Although Ernest Hemingway’s writing didn’t permeate American culture until the 1900s, his parents likely seized on the resurgence of the name when he was born in 1899, just a year before the name’s peak popularity.

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#24. Girl: Sarah

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 33,924 (Average: 1,615 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #37; 2,055 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #12; 1,226 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #67 (3,734 babies born)

As a biblical name, Sarah has consistently been a common name for girls. In the Old Testament, Sarah was the wife of Abraham, although her name was Sarai until God was said to have changed it when she was age 90. After the Protestant Reformation, Sarah became increasingly common in the Western world. French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who was born in 1844, also helped to popularize the name.

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#24. Boy: Richard

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 15,725 (Average: 749 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #24; 1,141 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #27; 609 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #187 (2,119 babies born)

The name Richard means “strong power,” and it comes from two Germanic words: “ric” and “hard.” Historically, the name is most commonly associated with King Richard I of England, who led the Third Holy Crusade of the 12th century. However, the name Richard became popular in the early 1900s thanks to a number of key sports figures, including Swedish figure skater Richard Johansson, who earned the silver medal at the 1908 Olympics.

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#23. Girl: Rose

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 35,043 (Average: 1,669 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #18; 2,845 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #30; 700 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #123 (2,432 babies born)

Rose is a shortened version of a Germanic name that first came into use in the Middle Ages in England, and like other names of the time, was thought to be a version of “ros,” meaning “horse.” However, by the 1900s, it became more and more popular to name girls after flowers, and Rose became a common choice for parents looking to name their daughters in accordance with that tradition.

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#23. Boy: Joe

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 15,758 (Average: 750 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #22; 1,179 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #29; 584 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #695 (345 babies born)

Joe is often a nickname for Joseph, a biblical name, and the name Joseph itself means “Jehovah increases.” But in the early 1900s, the name Joe on its own became popular, especially as pop culture figures like Joe DiMaggio became household names. In 1912, the #2 song of the year was “Ragtime Cowboy Joe” by Bob Roberts, which further helped popularize the name.

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#22. Girl: Martha

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 35,763 (Average: 1,703 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #28; 2,437 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #16; 1,040 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #794 (341 babies born)

Another biblical name, Martha means “the lady” or “mistress.” In the New Testament, Martha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. The name wasn’t commonplace in England until after the Protestant Reformation but became popular stateside when Martha Washington served as the United States’ first First Lady.

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#22. Boy: David

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 15,787 (Average: 752 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #32; 885 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #32; 646 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #22 (9,697 babies born)

David has been a consistently popular name since the Middle Ages—it can trace its roots to King David from The Bible—and even remains one of the most popular modern-day names in England, Wales, Spain, and the United States. The name David also became common in the late 1800s and early 1900s after Charles Dickens published “David Copperfield” in 1850.

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#21. Girl: Mabel

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 37,596 (Average: 1,790 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #25; 2,509 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #22; 808 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #435 (722 babies born)

Mabel is a shortened version of the name Amabel, both of which were popular names in the medieval 12th century in Europe. However, the use of the name declined after the 14th century and only rose in popularity again in the 19th century as medieval names started to become trendy during the Victorian era. William Wordsworth also used the name Mabel in his 1835 sonnet “St. Catherine of Ledbury,” which may have contributed to its rising usage during the Gilded Age.

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#21. Boy: Roy

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 17,559 (Average: 836 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #21; 1,215 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #34; 440 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #541 (514 babies born)

The name Roy is thought to be the anglicized version of the Gaelic name Ruadh, which meant “red,” and was often used as a nickname for people with red hair. Fittingly, Scottish outlaw and Roy namesake Rob Roy, who was often referred to as the Scottish Robin Hood, also had red hair. Sir Walter Scott memorialized Rob Roy in his 1818 novel of the same name, and William Wordsworth also penned poems about the outlaw, giving rise to the name’s popularity in the early 1900s.

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#20. Girl: Edna

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 38,190 (Average: 1,819 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #12; 3,102 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #45; 588 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #1,734 (117 babies born)

The name Edna means “rejuvenation” and “delight,” and it carries some biblical roots: In the Apocrypha, an Edna appears as a mother. By the late 19th century, Edna had soared to popularity, reaching #11 on the U.S. baby name list. Writers Edna St. Vincent Millay and Edna Ferber were just two of the girls to be given the name Edna in the last decade of the 1800s.

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#20. Boy: Louis

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 17,816 (Average: 848 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #26; 1,098 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #19; 746 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #263 (1,368 babies born)

Louis is a French name, and it was so popular in the country that it was used as the name for 18 kings of France, spanning hundreds of years. Louis means “famous warrior” or “famous fighter” and was said to come from Frankish King Clovis I—or in Latin, Chlodevech. Jazz musician Louis Armstrong is just one famous bearer of the name, having been born in 1901 during the name’s peak popularity.

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Adina Voicu // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Girl: Marie

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 38,199 (Average: 1,819 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #9; 3,856 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #55; 471 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #576 (530 babies born)

The name Marie is the French version of the biblical name Mary, who was the mother of Jesus and has remained a common name for girls throughout history in the western world. Although Marie is still widely used as a name in Europe, it’s less common in the United States and is more often used as a middle name. Physicist Marie Curie helped popularize the name after she won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903, along with her husband, for their study of spontaneous radiation.

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#19. Boy: Samuel

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 17,863 (Average: 851 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1880 (Rank: #17; 1,024 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #30; 704 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #21 (9,734 babies born)

Samuel has Hebrew origins, and means either “name of God” or “God has heard.” In the Old Testament, Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel and was the last of the ruling judges. Samuel gained popularity as a Christian name after the Protestant Reformation. It became popular stateside in the mid-1800s with figures like inventor Samuel Morse and writers Samuel Beckett and Samuel Clemens (alias Mark Twain) becoming mainstays of pop culture.

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#18. Girl: Lillian

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 38,790 (Average: 1,847 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #10; 3,414 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #32; 672 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #34 (5,534 babies born)

The name Lillian is an English version of the name Lilly, derived from the lily flower, and is said to represent innocence and beauty. Movie and theater actress Lillian Gish, who was born in 1893, helped to popularize the name in the United States, as well as playwright Lillian Hellman, who was born in 1905 during the peak of the Lillian name craze.

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#18. Boy: Willie

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 17,868 (Average: 851 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #14; 2,113 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1883 (Rank: #34; 474 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #933 (224 babies born)

Willie is an English name, short for William, which was one of the most popular names in England after William the Conqueror became the first Norman king of England in the 11th century. The nickname Willie became common in the United States beginning in the 1900s and is most often associated today with American baseball player Willie Mays, who was born in 1931.

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#17. Girl: Ida

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 41,780 (Average: 1,990 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #30; 2,285 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #7; 1,439 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #1,220 (190 babies born)

Ida is a German name that means “industrious one.” In the early 1900s, the name hit #10 on the baby name list after it soared to popularity thanks to an 1847 poem by Alfred Tennyson, titled, “The Princess.” The poem later inspired an operetta, “Princess Ida,” which featured music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W.S. Gilbert, and opened in 1884. While Ida hasn’t been in the Top 1,000 names in the U.S. since the 1980s, it remains popular in Scandinavian countries: Ida is currently the #3 name in Denmark and the #10 name in Norway.

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#17. Boy: Clarence

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 22,143 (Average: 1,054 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #18; 1,483 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #20; 668 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #1,115 (172 babies born)

The name Clarence was invented in 1362 for the third son of King Edward III when he married the heiress of Clare. The title is still in play today, and the title of the Duke of Clarence is given to junior members of the British royal family. However, the name became popular in the United States with the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, where a teacher by the name of Scopes was accused of violating the law by teaching evolution. Clarence Darrow, who was already a renowned criminal defense attorney, volunteered to defend Scopes in the case, bringing the name Clarence to a wide audience.

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#16. Girl: Grace

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 41,973 (Average: 1,999 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #17; 2,942 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #19; 982 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #24 (6,724 babies born)

The name Grace has Latin origins, but the earlier version of the name was actually Gracia during the Middle Ages. It wasn’t until the Puritans began using Christian values as names in the 16th century that the name Grace became popular in the Western world. The name was developed in reference to the divine grace of God, and was later adopted by Americans during the Victorian era. Actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, who was born later in 1929, helped to further popularize the name.

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#16. Boy: Albert

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 29,869 (Average: 1,422 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #16; 1,741 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #16; 1,207 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #452 (657 babies born)

Albert means “noble” and “bright,” and is the English version of the Old German name Adalbert. The name became commonplace when Queen Victoria ascended the throne in the United Kingdom. She was married to Prince Albert, who was famous for his wholehearted support of scientific discovery and exploration. Prince Albert died in 1861, just a decade before renowned physicist Albert Einstein was born in 1879.

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#15. Girl: Bessie

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 42,834 (Average: 2,040 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #15; 3,044 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #23; 796 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #10,471 (9 babies born)

Although Bessie is sometimes thought of as a nickname for Elizabeth, it is actually a name with its own with Hebrew origins, meaning, “pledged to God.” Bessie has been used since the 19th century and entered the public consciousness when Charlotte Brontë published “Jane Eyre” in 1847, a novel that featured a character named Bessie. Sean O’Casey later used the name for a character in his 1926 play, “The Plough and the Stars.”

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#15. Boy: Fred

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 31,518 (Average: 1,501 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1888 (Rank: #15; 1,665 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #16; 1,182 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #1,649 (97 babies born)

Fred is a shortened version of the name Frederick, a Germanic name meaning “peaceful ruler.” The Normans introduced the name in England in the 11th century, but it didn’t become common until later when it was brought back by the German House of Hanover in the 18th century. American actor and dancer Fred Astaire was one of the many boys to be named Fred when he was born in 1899.

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#14. Girl: Ruth

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 42,930 (Average: 2,044 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #5; 4,765 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #93; 234 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #265 (1,234 babies born)

The name Ruth is a Hebrew name meaning “friend,” and appears in The Bible in the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. The biblical Ruth married Boaz and was related to King David. Ruth was used as a Christian name during the Protestant Reformation. In the United States, President Grover Cleveland named his daughter Ruth when she was born in 1891, sparking a quasi-national sensation.

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#14. Boy: Arthur

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 34,382 (Average: 1,637 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #15; 1,853 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #14; 1,357 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #229 (1,642 babies born)

Arthur has Celtic origins meaning “bear,” but today, the name is most commonly associated with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Arthur established its roots in American pop culture with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” which featured a character named Arthur, and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.”

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#13. Girl: Annie

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 43,473 (Average: 2,070 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #11; 3,324 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #11; 1,258 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #308 (1,080 babies born)

Annie is often used as a nickname for Anna or Anne, and it has become a name of its own accord. It means “prayer” in Hebrew. Annie Oakley helped propel Annie into a household name after she won a shooting match at age 15 in 1875, becoming an immensely popular performer and traveling the country with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Later on, Annie was used as the name for the title character in “Little Orphan Annie,” which became and continues to be a mainstay in pop culture.

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#13. Boy: Walter

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 39,977 (Average: 1,904 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #12; 2,298 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #13; 1,668 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #271 (1,303 babies born)

Walter is a Germanic name that means “ruler of the army,” and its namesakes live up to the definition. English poet and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh helped establish the name during his lifetime before his death in 1618, and novelist Sir Walter Scott carried on the tradition until his death in 1832. The name Walter was originally brought to England by the Normans, where it replaced the Old English name of Wealdhere.

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#12. Girl: Alice

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 44,616 (Average: 2,125 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #14; 3,059 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #10; 1,308 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #71 (3,643 babies born)

Alice originated from the Old English name Aalis, which comes from the Germanic name Adalhaidis, and means “noble” and “kind.” The name entered the mainstream when Queen Victoria ascended the throne and named her second daughter Alice, and, of course, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” which also popularized the name after the novel was published in 1865.

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#12. Boy: Harry

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 46,251 (Average: 2,202 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1888 (Rank: #9; 2,759 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #13; 1,732 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #620 (427 babies born)

The name Harry came to be as a medieval English version of the French name Henri. Shortly after it was introduced, it fell out of fashion and was replaced by the name Henry. But William Shakespeare helped to reintroduce Harry with his play “Henry V,” in which the titular character is referred to as Prince Harry. By the 1600s, the name had earned its place in the Western world and became an almost universal popular name.

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#11. Girl: Clara

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 46,016 (Average: 2,191 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #19; 2,826 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #12; 1,226 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #103 (2,877 babies born)

Clara is a Latin name that means “bright” and “clear.” Silent film star Clara Bow popularized the name in the early 1900s with her many appearances on the silver screen, but Clara was also widely known as the main character in “The Nutcracker.” Clara Barton, a nurse who founded the American Red Cross, was also a popular figure after the American Civil War and continued to serve as inspiration for the name Clara until her death in 1912.

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#11. Boy: Thomas

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 47,422 (Average: 2,258 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1882 (Rank: #8; 2,610 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #11; 1,811 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #49 (6,779 babies born)

Thomas is the name of an apostle in the New Testament of The Bible, and thanks to this appearance, Thomas became a popular name for Christians to bestow upon their sons. The name was introduced in England by the Normans and became widespread with the rise of Saint Thomas Becket, a 12th-century archbishop. In the United States, American President Thomas Jefferson and inventor Thomas Edison helped to popularize the name.

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#10. Girl: Bertha

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 46,407 (Average: 2,210 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #16; 3,019 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #9; 1,320 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #4,740 (28 babies born)

The German name Bertha means “bright” and “glorious,” and was known among Christians due to Saint Bertha of Kent, a figure who helped spread Christianity. Charlemagne’s mother and daughter were also named Bertha. Later on, Bertha was the name of a character in “Jane Eyre,” as well as a character in Edith Wharton’s “The House of Mirth,” which was published in 1905.

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#10. Boy: Edward

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 47,886 (Average: 2,280 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #9; 2,720 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #9; 1,901 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #169 (2,268 babies born)

The name Edward comes from two Old English words, “ead,” meaning wealth, and “weard,” meaning guard. Several ancient English kings bore the name Edward, the last one being Saint Edward the Confessor, who was so beloved that people kept using the name Edward even after the Normans took over. British composer Edward Elgar was a famous bearer of the name, and “Jane Eyre” also helped launch the name to success with the character Edward Rochester, the main love interest in the novel.

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#9. Girl: Minnie

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 49,012 (Average: 2,334 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #22; 2,673 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #6; 1,653 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #2,592 (66 babies born)

While many may associate Minnie today with Minnie Mouse, the name means “of the mind” and “intellect,” and was a popular nickname for Minerva, Mary, and Margaret. Minnie became popular through literature and music, namely as a character in Charles Dickens’ “Little Dorrit,” and Eugene O’Neill’s “Mourning Becomes Electra.”

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#9. Boy: Henry

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 48,409 (Average: 2,305 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #10; 2,606 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #10; 1,831 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #16 (10,649 babies born)

The name Henry means “ruler of the home” and has German and French origins. Henry has been a popular name for British royalty, including the infamous King Henry VIII. The name rose to popularity in the United States with figures like Henry Ford and writer Henry David Thoreau becoming household names.

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#8. Girl: Ethel

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 50,215 (Average: 2,391 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #8; 3,896 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #38; 633 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #4,327 (32 babies born)

Ethel has Old English roots and means “noble,” coming into fashion in the 19th century when Old English names started becoming trendy. The 1855 novel “The Newcomes” by William Makepeace Thackeray and the 1856 novel “The Daisy Chain” by C.M. Yonge helped popularize the name in the latter half of the century. Singer Ethel Merman, who was born in 1908, was one of the many girls to be named Ethel during the Gilded Age.

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#8. Boy: Robert

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 54,042 (Average: 2,573 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #6; 3,821 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1887 (Rank: #10; 2,125 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #71 (5,140 babies born)

A popular name for boys since the Middle Ages, Robert means, “bright” and “fame.” The name was brought to England by the Normans and went on to be the name of three kings of Scotland, namely Robert the Bruce. Confederate general Robert E. Lee was a well-known figure of the time in the mid-to-late-1800s.

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#7. Girl: Florence

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 52,963 (Average: 2,522 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #7; 3,920 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #16; 1,046 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #970 (269 babies born)

Florence is derived from the Latin name Florentius, and means “prosperous” or “flourishing.” Many early Christian saints were named Florence, and the name was commonly bestowed in honor of those saints during the Middle Ages. Florence Nightingale, who lived until 1910, helped popularize the name during her lifetime when she served as a nurse in British hospitals, where she came to be known as the modern founder of nursing.

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#7. Boy: Joseph

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 59,006 (Average: 2,810 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #7; 3,714 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #7; 2,456 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #23 (9,555 babies born)

Joseph is a Hebrew name meaning “he will add,” and appears in the Old Testament as the eleventh son of Jacob. During the Middle Ages, Joseph was a more common Jewish name than a Christian name, but it became more widespread after the Protestant Reformation. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who lived from 1805 until 1844, cemented the name’s religious roots and helped fuel its popularity.

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#6. Girl: Helen

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 55,641 (Average: 2,650 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #2; 6,343 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #43; 612 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #413 (745 babies born)

Helen is a Greek name meaning, “bright, shining light” and its most famous bearer is perhaps Helen of Troy, the “face that launched a thousand ships” and ignited the Trojan War in Greek mythology. In mythology, Helen is the daughter of Leda and Zeus and was born to Leda as a swan. The name landed in the top five baby names for several decades of the 1900s but was popular at the turn of the century thanks to Helen Keller, a deaf-blind activist and writer.

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#6. Boy: Frank

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 63,162 (Average: 3,008 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #8; 3,477 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #8; 2,550 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #392 (803 babies born)

Frank is a Germanic name that actually referred to a tribe of Germanics: the Franks. The Franks lived in France and the Netherlands in the third and fourth centuries, and the name Frank was eventually brought to England by the Normans. At times, Frank has been used as a nickname for Francis. L. Frank Baum, the author of the beloved “Wizard of Oz” brought renewed attention to the name when the novel was published in 1900, as did the architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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#5. Girl: Emma

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 57,151 (Average: 2,721 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1892 (Rank: #7; 3,128 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #3; 2,003 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #1 (18,688 babies born)

The name Emma is thought to have originated from the German word “ermen,” which means whole or universal. Emma was introduced and subsequently made popular by Emma of Normandy, the queen of England, Denmark, and Norway in the 11th century. Emma has remained an immensely popular name throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century and is commonly associated with Jane Austen, who published her novel “Emma” in 1815.

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#5. Boy: Charles

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 87,603 (Average: 4,172 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1880 (Rank: #4; 5,348 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #5; 3,147 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #52 (6,604 babies born)

Charles is derived from the name Karl, a Germanic name that came from a Germanic word meaning “man.” Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, king of the Franks in the eighth century, helped to popularize the name, and Charles later was the name of various Holy Roman emperors and European kings. But the name wasn’t commonplace in England until the 17th century when Mary Queen of Scots named her son Charles. In the more modern era, famous Charles namesakes include writer Charles Dickens and naturalist Charles Darwin.

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#4. Girl: Elizabeth

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 62,981 (Average: 2,999 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #6; 4,096 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #4; 1,852 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #13 (8,513 babies born)

Elizabeth is a name of Hebrew origin, meaning, “consecrated to God” or “God is bountiful.” The name is derived from Elisheba, the wife of Aaron in the Bible. The name Elizabeth also appears in the New Testament as the mother of John the Baptist. Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was born in 1533, bridged the name’s gap with the modern era, and one of her successors and namesakes—Queen Elizabeth II—is the current head monarch of the United Kingdom. Actress Elizabeth Taylor is another famous bearer of the name.

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#4. Boy: George

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 96,412 (Average: 4,591 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #4; 5,403 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #4; 3,931 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #127 (3,059 babies born)

The name George comes from the Greek name Georgios, which was derived from a Greek word that means “farmer” or “earth-worker.” Although Saint George was an important religious figure for European Christians, the name wasn’t typically used in England until King George I came to power in the 18th century. George Washington became the first president of the United States, giving the name a permanent place in American culture. Writer Mary Anne Evans, who lived from 1819 to 1880, used the name George Eliot as her pen name.

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#3. Girl: Margaret

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 65,041 (Average: 3,097 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #4; 5,304 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #6; 1,578 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #127 (2,312 babies born)

Margaret is an English version of the French name Marguerite, which in turn came from the Hebrew name Margaron, meaning “pearl.” In Christianity, Saint Margaret is the patron saint of expectant mothers and later became a common name in the British royal family. Princess Margaret bore the name later in the 1900s, and was beloved by the press and her subjects, who enjoyed following her social life and romantic endeavors until her death in 2002.

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#3. Boy: James

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 112,025 (Average: 5,335 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #3; 7,245 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1891 (Rank: #3; 4,516 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #4 (13,525 babies born)

The name James comes from both Hebrew and Greek and is mentioned numerous times in the Bible, as the name of two apostles in the New Testament, the apostle John’s brother, and Jesus’ brother. In the Middle Ages, the name was more common in Scotland than in England, but when Scottish King James VI took the throne in England, the name became much more widespread. James Madison and James Monroe were the fourth and fifth presidents of the United States—just two of the six presidents overall that share the name.

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#2. Girl: Anna

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 99,534 (Average: 4,740 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #3; 6,114 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1880 (Rank: #2; 2,604 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #54 (4,145 babies born)

Anna is said to have come from the Hebrew name Hannah, and means “gracious.” Anna was a common name for people living in the Byzantine Empire and was popular among Christians who connected the name to Saint Anna. The name was used by many Russian royals, chiefly an 18th-century empress of Russia. Leo Tolstoy’s 1878 novel “Anna Karenina” also thrust the name into public consciousness, given the commercial success of the book.

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#2. Boy: William

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 165,704 (Average: 7,891 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1880 (Rank: #2; 9,532 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #2; 6,086 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #3 (14,516 babies born)

William originated from the German name Willahelm, which was comprised of the words “will,” meaning desire, and “helm,” meaning “protection.” The name rose exponentially in popularity after William the Conqueror became the first Norman king of England in the 11th century. Three other English kings were later named William, as well as neighboring royals in other countries. But the name William also has a rich literary history: Playwright William Shakespeare is perhaps one of the most famous Williams, along with poet William Wordsworth and author William Faulkner, who was born in 1897 just before the height of the name’s popularity.

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#1. Girl: Mary

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 239,510 (Average: 11,405 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #1; 16,706 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1881 (Rank: #1; 6,919 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #126 (2,327 babies born)

Mary is the English version of the biblical Hebrew name Miriam, and means “beloved” or “child we wished for.” Mary itself is also a biblical name, having been the mother of Jesus. It was a common name for Christian Europeans and royals. Mary Shelley, who wrote the novel “Frankenstein,” bolstered the case for the name throughout her life until her death in 1851, as did the series of “Mary Poppins” children’s books, which were published in the 1930s.

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#1. Boy: John

- Total Gilded Age babies with this name: 180,444 (Average: 8,593 born per year)
- Most popular year: 1900 (Rank: #1; 9,829 babies born)
- Least popular year: 1899 (Rank: #1; 6,990 babies born)
- 2018 rank: #27 (9,119 babies born)

The name John is derived from the Latin name Johannes, which also had roots in Hebrew. While a version of the name John appears in the Old Testament, John really owes its popularity to the New Testament, which features John the Baptist and the apostle John, who was close to Jesus. During the First Crusade, the name swept western Europe, and during the Middle Ages, about a fifth of all boys born were named John. Famous American bearers of the name include President John Adams and author John Steinbeck.

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