Saturday, March 10, 2007

How Popular is Your First Name?

What are the most popular female names found on the 1990 US census? This is a very different list from the most popular baby names of today because the 1990 census lists includes all ages - from newborns to those who are over 100 - everyone who was on the 1990 census

Most Popular Female First Names on 1990 US Census

  1. MARY
  3. LINDA
  7. MARIA
  8. SUSAN
  11. LISA
  12. NANCY
  13. KAREN
  14. BETTY
  15. HELEN
  16. SANDRA
  17. DONNA
  18. CAROL
  19. RUTH
  20. SHARON

Wait a minute? Where is Emily, Emma, Ashley and Madison, the popular baby names of today? As it turns out, Emily ranks 99 overall, Emma is 134, Ashley is 725, and Madison is a lowly 2,029.

Are there really more females in the US named Dorothy than Emily? There sure were when the 1990 census was taken. I suspect it has to do with demographics. With the exception of Jennifer, all the names on the list are the popular names given to Baby Boomer babies, those born between 1946 and 1964, when the birth rate was very high.

You can go to the US 1990 census database at
to search for the popularity of your own name.

You will get a result that looks like this (my first name):
KATHLEEN 0.424 24.468 36

This means that KATHLEEN ranks 36th in terms of frequency of all US female first names (1990).

The first name, KATHLEEN, is possessed by 0.424 percent of the 1990 US census population sample.

24.468 percent of the sample population is covered by KATHLEEN and the 35 names occurring more frequently than KATHLEEN. Another way of saying this is that almost 25% of the US females have the same 36 first names!

Surname Distributions

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