Popular, trendy, and noteworthy baby names of 1881 (U.S.)

Baby name timeline 1881

Which baby names were the most popular in the U.S. in 1881?

Which names saw the steepest rises in usage?

And which names appeared for the very first time in the national dataset?

Below you’ll find the answers to all three of these questions, plus some of the other baby names that made gains in 1881. (In parentheses are my guesses about the outside factors influencing each name.)

Top names

These were the most popular baby names overall in the U.S. in 1881:

Girl names: Most popularBoy names: Most popular
1. Mary1. John
2. Anna2. William
3. Emma3. James
4. Elizabeth4. George
5. Margaret5. Charles

Rising names

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 1880 to 1881 in terms of number of babies:

Girl names: Top absolute increasesBoy names: Top absolute increases
1. Ethel1. Chester (politician)
2. Bessie [tie]2. Ira
3. Grace [tie]3. Raymond
4. Nellie4. Edgar
5. Anna5. Emil

These baby names saw the largest increases in usage from 1880 to 1881 in terms of percentage of babies:

Girl names: Top relative increasesBoy names: Top relative increases
1. Isa1. Noble
2. Johnnie2. Buck [tie]
3. Opal3. Ivy [tie]
4. Maudie4. Avery
5. Arvilla [tie]5. Waldo
6. Lauretta [tie]

And here’s a selection of the other baby names that saw higher usage in 1881:

Girl names: Other increasesBoy names: Other increases
Garfield (politician)

Debut names

These were the baby names that debuted most impressively in the U.S. baby name data in 1881:

Girl names: Top debutsBoy names: Top debuts
1. Adell [tie]1. Brown [tie]
2. Celeste [tie]2. Newell [tie]
3. Audrey [3-way tie]3. Carter
4. Lonie [3-way tie]4. Lucas
5. Zadie [3-way tie]5. Bee [3-way tie]
6. Meyer [3-way tie]
7. Paris [3-way tie]

If you want to check out another year on the timeline, here’s the baby name timeline main page.

Finally, a few reminders about the Social Security Administration’s baby name data:

  • It only includes names given to at least five babies (of one gender or the other) per year.
  • It does contain mistakes such as misspelled names, misgendered names, and placeholder names (e.g., “Babygirl”).
  • It isn’t very accurate from 1880 to the mid-1930s. Why? Because the SSA was established in the mid-1930s, so the names in the dataset from 1880 to the mid-1930s are not the names of babies, but the names (or nicknames) of adults applying for social security numbers. More importantly, adults born during these decades who never applied for a number are simply not accounted for.

Data source: U.S. Social Security Administration