Look, I'm not one who can ignore the atrocities our country went through in the 1950s, but I'm not above idealizing the good parts and romanticizing some of the magic of the decade. And a huge part of that is loving all of the
baby names from the 1950s that we seriously need to bring back. I mean, when's the last time you met a George or a Mary in your kid's preschool class? There's something unbelievably classic and lovely about these vintage names, and their charm literally knows no bounds.
To be fair, a lot of these names are already on the upswing and slowly creeping up the popularity charts. If history has proven anything to us, it's that we love the retro vibe of our past and are often looking for an old-fashioned twist, which is probably why so many vintage baby names are making a comeback. But this list of baby names from the 1950s has a good mix of names you've probably heard recently and names you totally forgot about. (Looking at you, Annette.) So put on your Mickey Mouse Club ears, turn everything into black and white, and think about white picket fences and soda shops. (You know, all the stereotypical '50s things.)
Nancy has such a sweetness and an absolute charm about it. From 1931 to 1962, the name was in the top 20 most popular baby names, according to Nameberry, and
the meaning of Nancy is "grace." It's definitely considered unique these days and a sweet nod to the '50s. Plus you can guarantee she'll have a whole set of Nancy Drew books by the time she's 5. 3 John
John is just a strong, solid name to me. I don't know why I love it so much, but I do. The SSA reported that John was the number four most popular name in the 1950s, but it's remained fairly popular today with Nameberry noting that
it was number 27 in 2017. It sounds like we've already "brought it back," but I have a feeling it's still pretty unique in some circles. 4 Mary
Ah, another solid classic. Mary is just so cute to me, and I think its innocent connotation speaks for itself. Back in the 1950s, SSA noted that this was the number one baby name for girls, with 625,558 birth certificates filled out with Mary. That's a lot of Marys, but I can honestly say I never hear this sweet name anymore. Time for a comeback.
5 Barbara Getty Images/Retrofile RF/Getty Images
My husband's grandmother is named Barbara and I just think it's cute as a button. It's the perfect cozy, old-fashioned name, which makes sense considering it was the sixth most popular baby girl name in the 1950s, but was down on the list
at number 908 in 2017, according to Nameberry. The meaning of the name is "foreign woman," which is kind of funny considering everyone I know or have heard of named Barbara is not what I'd call a "foreign woman," but there you have it. Go with Barbie for a fun, punchy nickname, or Babs for something super quirky and cute. 6 George
This is my favorite boy's name of all time and my husband absolutely hates it. He says it reminds him of George Clooney and George of the Jungle (both noble men if you ask me), but he basically hates any "old man" name I love. Well, joke's on him. In the 1950s, George was the 25th most popular baby name, but it's stayed fairly on trend recently. Nameberry reported that in 2017,
it was the 124th most popular name for boys, so this classic is already making a comeback. 7 Rebecca
OK, so Rebecca is still a popular one, but I haven't heard any new babies given this sweet name in a while, so I'm including it. Plus, if you're a fan of the 1950s, you'll appreciate that this moniker was the 28th most popular baby girl name of the decade, so it definitely has a spunky, vintage charm.
Peter is just the cutest, OK? In the 1950s, there were 102,715 baby boys born with the name, according to the SSA, but in 2017, it was only at number 213. The name is Greek and means "rock," which I think is just utterly charming. Plus, hello Peter Pan-themed baby nursery, right?
If you're already singing "turn the beat around" in your head, same. But Gloria is more than just the name of the powerhouse known as Gloria Estefan. Back in the 1950s, it was in the top 50 baby girl names, but
didn't even make top 500 in 2017, according to Nameberry. The name literally means "glory," so consider this one a total win if you want a vintage name that nobody else has. 10 Alan
Alan is a family name for me, so I have a soft spot no matter what, but since the name means "handsome, cheerful," I think it's ridiculously perfect for any baby boy. In the 1950s, the name was the 45th most popular, but it's continued to be
in the top 200s, according to Nameberry. 11 Walter
Walter just makes my heart sing. How cute is this name? Back in the '50s, the name was the 51st most popular, but Nameberry noted that in 2017, it was number 265. That's still fairly on trend, but you're bound to have one of the few Walters in your area if you choose this classic moniker for your little guy. The name is also German and means "army ruler" if you want something strong and steady for your babe.
OK, I know we already covered John, but Johnny is totally different and you know it. It's a mega popular name from the 1950s if pop culture is to be believed (seriously, how many little Johnnys can there be in one town), but the SSA also has it listed as the 54th most popular name of the decade for boys. If you prefer a more informal version of John or just want a nickname that's also a quintessential '50s choice, Johnny's your best bet.
I personally have a huge crush on Cheryl Strayed, so this name is more than just a cute '50s choice for me, but if you want some vintage flair, Cheryl's a great one. It was in the top 20 baby names back in the 1950s, but is "
as frozen in the pre-Beatles era as short white gloves," according to Nameberry. So you know, it's no longer a popular one. But considering the name literally means "darling," I'm more than ready to bring it back. 14 Jane
Jane! If you've ever seen a 1950s children's book, you recognize Jane from the
adventures of Dick and Jane. I mean, truly, there's probably not a name that encompasses the decade so well. Even though it's only one syllable, I feel like it holds a lot of personality, and Nameberry noted that it means "God is gracious." So if that's your cup of tea, go for it. 15 Virginia
Virginia is just adorable. There are also a lot of cute nicknames you can do like Gin, Ginny, or Vi. It has a very loaded meaning as "
virginal, pure," according to Nameberry, but you can also choose it for the state or because it was the 63rd most popular baby girl name of the '50s. 16 Katherine
OK, so Katherine is still fairly popular, but I still love it and think it should make a mega comeback. The name means "pure" and is super classic, with the SSA reporting that it was the 65th most popular name of the 1950s for girls. And think of all the sweet nicknames like Kate and Kat.
Man, if Ralph doesn't make you think about a cute little boy running around in your white-picket-fenced yard, chasing a pup, and finding frogs for his pockets, then what's wrong with you? OK, so all little boys and all little Ralphs don't act like that, but the name is just too endearing. It was the 66th most popular baby boy name in the 1950s, according to the SSA, but it's not even ranked now. That means your kid will be totally unique and full of vintage love.
Such a classic, right? Elaine was number 588 in 2017, according to Nameberry, but if you ask me, it should've been higher. The name literally means "
bright, shining light" which is just so sweet. I mean, they obviously knew this in the 1950s considering it was chosen for 54,230 baby girls, reported the SSA. 19 Joanne
I just love the name Joanne and think it's such a sweet name for a little girl, but a great, strong, classic name for an adult.
It also means "God is gracious," and is considered a hardly-used classic. But in the 1950s, the name was the 82nd most popular for baby girls. Time to bring it back, am I right? 20 Howard Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
OK, hear me out. I know Howard is strictly "old man" territory, but I still think it's darling. The name means "
high guardian or brave heart" and was actually number 999 on the popular names list of 2017. So, you know, not winning any awards, but still hanging around. I think it's just the cutest. 21 Alice
Maybe I just have a huge soft spot for Alice because it's my own daughter's name, but this moniker is so sweet. In the '50s, Alice was the 85th most popular baby girl name, and it's been making a steady comeback the last few years. It also means "of the noble kind," which I remind my 3-year-old of on the daily. Especially when she picks her nose.
Suze, Suzie, and Suzanne are all sweet things to call your baby, so get all three with this name choice. Namberry noted that
the name means "lily," and in the '50s, it was in the top 90 names for little girls. 23 Calvin
You guys, how punch-drunk am I in love with Calvin? So much. The name was bestowed upon 30,543 baby boys born in the 1950s, according to the SSA, and for good reason — it's ridiculously cute. I love the nickname Cal, and I think it just fits with any surname.
Evelyn is so spunky and lovely. My husband has already nixed this one, but in the '50s, a lot of husbands were agreeing as it was given to 38,401 baby girls. The classic name also means
"wished for child," which is just so sweet and lovely. It would make a beautiful nursery decoration to have this meaning up on a wall. 25 Theodore
Now this is one my husband and I both loved, and I'm happy to share the cuteness of Theodore with the world. Whether you shorten it to Theo, Teddy, Ted, or keep it long, the name is just too perfect for your little guy. In the 1950s, it was used for 29,035 babies, and has been making a comeback ever since. It also
means "gift of God," which is precious. 26 Annette
Does Annette make you think of a Mouseketeer? Same. This is the quintessential '50s name, but it's quirky enough to bring back. It also means "
the Lord has favored me," and it hasn't seen a popular name list in a while. Basically, it's a winner, and if you don't buy your baby Annette her own pair of Mickey ears, I don't know what to say. 27 Warren
I know, Warren seems like a stretch, but I love the retro charm of it and how traditional it is. Nameberry noted that it's one of the "
oldest recorded English surnames," so it definitely packs some old school vibes. Plus, it was mega popular in the '50s and is staging a comeback now. 28 Rosemary
Rosemary makes me think of the '60s thanks to
Rosemary's Baby, but the name was a big choice for parents of the 1950s. The SSA reported that Rosemary was the name given to 24,999 babies, and it's still pretty unique now. Thanks to the herb, it also has a sweet nature-like feel that's hard to beat if you want something that feels organic. 29 Audrey
Oh Audrey — a total classic, right? It means "
noble strength" and has some serious old Hollywood vibes thanks to Audrey Hepburn. It's one of those names that works well for little girls and grown, professional women, and I don't hear it very often. You can also give yourself permission to shout it like Clark W. Griswold does. 30 Marjorie
You guys, how cute is Marjorie? The SSA reported that in the '50s, 20,934 baby girls were named Marjorie, but it's only remained slightly popular. It's also a diminutive of Margaret and means "pearl," which just adds to its vintage charm. I think it has such a lovely sound, and I also really like the way it looks written out. (I know, I'm weird.)
Franklin gives me FDR vibes, which gives me cozy homestead vibes, so I love it extra hard. Nameberry reported that
it was number 440 on their 2017 popular baby names list, but in the '50s, it hit the charts at number 172. Plus, Frankie is the sweetest little nickname for a boy or a girl. 32 Rosa
Rosa is such a fun, spunky name for a little girl, and a really cute twist on the super traditional Rose. The twist comes from the name being a variation of
Rose in Spanish, Italian, and Latin origin, noted Nameberry. It's not incredibly unique, but it's also not super popular now either. 33 Freddie
Not a fan of Fred? That's OK. Skip the super formal moniker for a cute nickname that works as a full name with Freddie. You already know it's a popular '50s choice, but
it also means "peaceful ruler" and isn't mega popular right now. My husband agrees with me that it's a super cute name, which is unheard of, so maybe you should snag it immediately. Bonus points? It can be great for a boy or a girl. 34 Veronica
Whether you want to call her Ronnie or Vera, Veronica is super versatile and lovely. In the 1950s, there were 17,620 baby girls given the name, and it's remained fairly popular ever since. The name Veronica also means "
she who brings victory; true image" which is pretty boss if you ask me. 35 Mildred Lambert/Archive Photos/Getty Images
I'm not going to lie. I put Mildred here mainly because you could then call your baby Millie, which is literally the cutest baby name in the entire world. It means "gentle strength," and is super unique,
dropping majorly in the 1980s and only now picking back up. Truly, when have you ever met an actual Mildred? 36 Rachel
I know, I know. Rachel has been around forever, but to be honest, the people I know with the name were all born in the '80s and early '90s, so it's time to give it a facelift. It was popular in the '50s, too, and is a sweet biblical choice if that's something you're looking for.
Oh man, how fun is Rex? In the '50s, there were 13,494 baby boys with the name, but it's been slowly coming back. The name means "king," which is pretty great, but it can
also be a girl option if you're looking for an extra unique flair. It sounds so spunky. 38 Arnold
If you're a '90s Nickelodeon kid, Arnold may already hold a special place in your heart, but in the '50s, it was just a popular baby boy name with 13,191 babes being given the moniker. The name also means "ruler, strong as an eagle," which is way better than "football head."
I can only say the name Lillian in Herman Munster's voice, which means it's totally perfect for a '50s loving family. (OK, so
The Munsters was actually on TV in the '60s, but work with me here.) There were 16,505 baby girls named Lillian in the '50s, and the name has remained fairly popular ever since. But being as the only kids I know with similar names go by Lily, I think Lillian is more than worth the vintage charm. What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
This article was originally published on
June 28, 2018