Throwback Thursday: 1900s Baby Names | Parents

1900s baby names

Today’s Throwback Thursday heads back to the turn of the 20th century, when many of the old-fashioned names that we’re loving now were in vogue. For girls, that meant names like Lillian, Grace, Rose and Clara, while William, Jack, James and Charles were stylish for boys.

But there are some unique names from the top of the list that haven’t made it back into fashion. Could one of these vintage baby names make it on your short list?


Inez is the Portuguese version of Agnes, and means pure. It hit its peak in the 1900s, when it fell just a bit outside the top 100. It hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 1970s, but I think it’s ready for a fresh run for the top.

With names like Ruby, Jade and Pearl becoming popular, could other gem names be far behind? I love Opal, which was the #98 name in the 1900s. Consider it especially for a daughter born in October, when opal is the birthstone.

I’m pretty partial to the name Margaret (it’s my youngest daughter’s name), but Marguerite is pretty darned stylish, too. It’s the French version of Margaret, which means pearl—and it’s also the name of a flower.

Lucille was nearing its peak in the 1900s, when it was the 51st most popular name. It’s a fun way to get to Lucy, and pays homage to the legendary comedienne. If you don’t want people to think of the wacky redhead, try the variant Lucilla.

Edith has a lovely meaning—prosperity—and the perfect way to follow the E-name trend without going for the overused Ella or Emma. (And I love the nickname Edie!)

Gladys was the 14th most popular name back in the 1900s, a Welsh gem that actually means “lame.” I think it’s a lovely name, though.


Roosevelt reached its pinnacle of popularity for boys back in the 1900s, thanks to the indomitable prez Teddy. It’s a Dutch surname that means rose field, and fell out of favor back in the 1990s.

Willard has the Today Show’s longtime weatherman/100th-birthday wisher Willard Scott to recommend it, and a cool meaning—brave. It’s a nice way to get to Will without the uberpopular William.

Virgil was Rome’s finest poet—a Latin name that means staff bearer. It was at its peak of popularity back in the 1900s, and comes with the cute “Gil” nickname

Luther is a German name that means army people, and  stayed in the top 100 until 1910. Consider it a cool way to pay homage to Martin Luther King—or Superman baddie Lex Luthor.

Howard means brave heart, and was a top 50 name through the late 19th and early 20th century, before a steep nosedive starting in the 1980s (could the infamous 80s-era flop Howard the Duck be to blame?). Skip Howie and go with the cool Ward for a nickname.

Albert was one of my front runners for a royal baby name—it means “noble,” and was the name of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband. I love the nickname “Bertie” for a little boy. Too cool!

What do you think of these turn-of-the-century names? Could you imagine a little Willard or Edith? Look for the perfect baby name with our Baby Name Finder, and check out my advice for the biggest baby name trends of next year.


Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name


Image: 1900s couple by velora /