20 Popular Baby Names from 1917 (Exactly 100 Years Ago!)

One of the most fun parts of awaiting a new baby is coming up with a list of your favorite baby names. Some parents-to-be LOVE this task (I happen to be one of them), while others see it as overwhelming and find themselves at a loss as to where to start.

One good place to begin would be classic baby names. When it comes to baby names, there’s something called “The 100 Year Rule” that claims it takes 100 years for a name to come back around in popularity. A 100-year-old name that once felt tired and old-fashioned can, a century later, feel fresh again.

So in the spirit of centenarian baby names, here is a list of my personal favorites from the year 1917 — exactly 100 years ago!


1. Dorothy

Dorothy was one of the most popular names of 1917 (at #3 on the list) and it is one that we are seeing an uptick in popularity for. It offers great nickname opportunity with Dottie, which is the absolute cutest!

2. Frances

While Frances held the #9 spot in 1917, it isn’t one you hear often anymore. While it isn’t a name that will automatically lend itself to nicknames (a plus for parents who aren’t into them), it still offers a couple of cute options — “France” or “Francie” — for close friends and family to use.

3. Florence

Florence is one of those girl’s names that kind of covers all the bases. It is classic, but still feels fresh and modern. It is simultaneously sweet and fun for a little girl, but will also grow well with a child into adulthood.

4. Lucille

I absolutely adore the name Lucille. It has a sweet, Southern charm without being over the top. You could opt for Lucy as a nickname, but the name in its entirety is so lovely and unexpected.

5. Annie

In 1917, Annie was #35 on the popular names list, and while it definitely isn’t an uncommon name now — we all know a few Annas or Annes — the name Annie isn’t one that is used very often. It is simple, but has just enough quirkiness to keep things interesting.

6. Elsie

Right in the middle of the baby name popularity list, at #50, you’ll find Elsie. This name is a great (and more unique) alternative to the name Elsa, and one that won’t be shared with five other girls in her kindergarten class.

7. Jane

We’ve all heard the phrase “plain Jane,” but now that the name Jane has fallen out of popularity, it feels anything but plain 100 years later. I love how something short and simple can also feel so modern.

8. Mabel

This name has that “little old lady” feel that is so popular right now, but is one of the more off-the-beaten path alternatives.

9. Lena

Lena is such a lovely name. While it is a cute choice with a sweet ring to it for a little girl, it is one that gives off all the sophisticated, mysterious vibes for an adult. A great name to grow into.

10. Maxine


At #93 on the 2017 popularity list, Maxine is one of those names I have “heard of,” but have never actually heard in real life, which makes it a perfect pick for parents who feel compelled to choose a name that is super unique. It also affords the nicknames of “Max” or “Maxi” which are both pretty adorable.


1. Walter

While the name Walter definitely had its heyday (it was #11 in 1917), it hasn’t gotten much action in recent years. I think it’s an unexpected choice for a little boy and could be great shortened to “Walt.”

2. Raymond

Raymond just sounds like a classy guy you’d like to know, doesn’t it? Raymond is a strong name for a boy and has great nickname potential in “Ray.”

3. Roy

In the same vein as “Ray,” you have Roy, which came in at #33 100 years ago. Short, sweet and to the point. A great choice for those that lean toward simple, one-syllable names (think: Jack, Duke, Scout, and the like).

4. Stanley

Perhaps it’s time to bring back this “ultimate nice guy” name. While Stanley was #34 on the most popular baby names list in 1917, it isn’t even in the top 500 today (#688 if you want to be precise). It would most definitely be a choice off-the-beaten-path.

5. Eugene

I absolutely adore the name Eugene. I pushed for it heavily as a contender for Baby #3 had she been a boy. We were looking for a potential boy’s name that would honor my husband’s grandmother Jeanne and this would’ve been perfect. Classic and quirky.

6. Alfred

While I do love the name Alfred and think it would be a nice, strong choice for a boy, I am most fond of it for its childhood nickname potential. Isn’t Alfie just the cutest little boy’s name?

7. Clyde

While this name is most synonymous as the infamous “other half” of the duo Bonnie & Clyde, it actually originated from the name of a river in Glasgow, Scotland. Definitely a great single-syllable boy’s name with a cool kid vibe.

8. Lewis

On the 1917 list of baby name favorites, this particular spelling of the name (loo-iss) was less popular (#70) than its alternative counterpart Louis (#23), but both were clearly great options then and now. I would suggest this spelling as opposed to the other if you live in the U.S. and would like to have the “s” at the end pronounced.

9. Leon

Those parents in 1917 sure threw me for a loop with this name. It was definitely one I didn’t expect to see on the list, but was happy that I did. It feels fresh and modern and is perfect for parents that gravitate toward nature-inspired names, as this name means “lion.”

10. Everett

I honestly had no idea that the name Everett was an old name! I always thought of it as a cool, modern, boy’s name, but apparently it inched its way into the top 100 in 1917 at #94. Who knew?

Image: Getty

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