The 1890s were a time of significant social and political changes. Women’s rights, exposing corruption, education, and children’s rights were only a few of the vital social subjects receiving focus during this time. Strong names were chosen for 1890s baby names during this time. Here are some of the most popular names from the Progressive Era.
Popular 1890s Boy Names and Their Meanings
John. The name “John” is of Semitic origin and means “Graced by God.” John the Baptist and John F. Kennedy are two famous men with the name of John.
William. “William” comes from the Old Norman name Willaume. The name means “determined protector.” Prince William and William the Conqueror remain other famous Williams.
James. “James” is a boy’s name that originally came from “Jacob.” The name James means “to follow.” James Cagney is one well-known “James.”
George. “George” means “farmer.” Two famous Georges are George Washington and George Clooney.
Charles. “Charles” originated from the German name Karl, which means a full-grown man. Famous people named Charles the current Prince of Wales, and several kings named Charles.
Joseph. “Joseph” originally was Hebrew name meaning God shall add. Famous people with the name Joseph are Joseph, married to the Virgin Mary, and Country music star Joe Diffie.
Frank. The name “Frank” seems to have come from the Germanic tribe of the same name. “Frank” means “the Frenchman.” Frank is usually short for the name Francis.
Henry. The name “Henry” came from Ireland and England. It means “home-ruler.” Famous Henry’s include Prince Harry of England and Henry Ford.
Edward. The name “Edward” means either “wealthy” or the “fortunate guardian.” Several British kings and Prince Edward are famous Edwards.
Robert. “Robert” comes from Old Germany and means “shining fame.” Several kings and saints were named “Robert.”
Top 100 Baby Boy Names From the 1890s
Popular 1890s Girl Names and Their Meanings
Mary. Mary either originated in Egypt or Israel. It means “drop,” as in a drop of water.
Anna. The name Anna means “favor” and is of Hebrew origin. Anna was the name of the grandmother of Jesus.
Elizabeth. This name means “God is Abundance” and comes from the Septuagint. One well-known Elizabeth remains Queen Elizabeth II of England.
Emma. “Emma” comes from Germany and means “whole” or “universal.”
Margaret. Margaret originated from an Old Persian word that means “pearl.” One remarkable Margaret remains Margaret Thatcher.
Rose. Rose can either refer to the flower or mean “fame.” It originated in Norman Germany. Rose Kennedy is a famous person with the name.
Ethel. Ethel comes from England and means noble strength. A famous Ethel is Ethel Kennedy.
Florence. Florence is a female Latin name that means “flowering.” One example of someone with this name is Florence Henderson.
Ida. Ida was a Greek mythological character who took care of baby Zeus on Mount Ida. The name “Ida” means “diligent.” Ida Lupino remains one example of a person named Ida.
Helen. Helen is a Greek name that means “shining light.” Famous Helens include Helen of Troy and Helen Keller.
Top 100 Baby Girl Names From the 1890s
Are 1890s Names Still Popular in 2023?
The 1890s were roughly 130 years ago. Given that, it's completely reasonable to assume that the names that were popular then aren't popular now. Let's take a look at the top five boy and girl names from this decade to see how they fair today.
For boys, the top five most popular names were John, William, James, George, and Charles. In 2023, John still remains in the Top 50 at number 40. William and James are more popular than John today, at 12 and nine respectively. George isn't nearly as common of a name these days, ranking at 262 in 2023. Charles fairs better, making it into the Top 100 at spot 84. The enduring popularity of some of these boy names can be attributed to their extended popularity throughout the 20th century.
For girls, the top five most popular names were Mary, Anna, Margaret, Helen, and Elizabeth. Mary is moderately popular today, ranking at 330. Anna ranks about a hundred spots higher, at 220. Meanwhile, Margaret sits close to Mary at 312. Helen is a lot less popular than the rest of these five names, at 849. Elizabeth remains quite popular, remaining in the Top 100 at 57.
If you want a traditional name that isn't too popular in 2023, try George, Mary, Anna, Margaret, or Helen.