What makes a name go in or out of style? In the early 1900s, there were armies of Mildreds born in America. Now, Mildred is an endangered species, having been usurped by Jennifer and Britney. A new interactive visualization by ZatoNovo.com lets you track a century of naming trends and check out how your own name fared over the years. The visualization maps out the popularity of over 29,000 names, from Mary to Bertha to Willodean to Petula, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Back in October, Jezebel put together an animated map visualizing six decades of the most popular baby names for girls, which could’ve been titled the United States of Marys, Lisas, and Jennifers. But this interactive map lets you gawk at the weirder outlier names, too–baby Forney? Baby Odin? Baby Misty?
Following the visualization, you can begin to see why a name rises and falls in popularity. Naming trends often follow pop culture: There were tons of little Elvises in the late ’50s and early ’60s; and a huge crop of Rihannas sprouted in the late 2000s. You can also track how celebrity’s ultra-unique baby names caught on over the years. Apple, the name of Gwyneth Paltrow’s little cherub, born in 2004, was suddenly mighty popular in California in 2005. What a coincidence!
Naming trends also followed social movements and subcultures. This map charts the rise and fall of hippie lovechild names like Feather, which first popped up in 1970 California, of course, and all but died out by 1979. And Brooklyn, arguably the ultimate hipster baby name, slowly grew in popularity over the past three decades. First recorded in the census in 1980, there were over 7,000 baby Brooklyns nationwide by 2012. Now, we’re waiting for Staten Island to catch on as the trendiest new borough so we can welcome an onslaught of babies named Staten.
Check the historical popularity of your own name here.