When most people think of the 1930s, their first thoughts go towards the Great Depression. While the economic collapse had an impact, it was also a time of innovation and invention. Europe was in a tumultuous political state; the impacts of this would soon bleed into the United States.

The baby names from the 30s reflect the changes going on in the world.

The Top Ten

Robert and Mary were the most popular names from the 1930s. They were also the most popular names in the prior decade, the 1920s.

In the 1930s boy names stayed in the traditional realm when it came to the top ten. The list includes James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Thomas, and Joseph.

While classic girl names like Margaret, Betty, and Joan were in the top ten 1930s girl names, less traditional monikers were also in the list. Names like Shirley, Patricia, Barbara, and Nancy made their mark.

The Political Times

The 1930s saw two men holding the office of President of the United States: Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Herbert came in at #53, likely from solid Republicans who favored Mr. Hoover. For Democrats, Franklin became a favorite, attaining the respectable rank of #70. There may be a few hidden fans of Mr. Roosevelt who named their sons Frank (#16).

One oddity to note: there has never been a president of the United States born during the 1930s.

1930s kids

The Rise of International Film Stardom

The 1930s saw the beginning of the Golden Age of Hollywood. While the Depression affected studios in the early years of the decade, they were turning profits by the mid-1930s.

Hollywood stars definitely influenced 1930s baby names. Gary (#45) Cooper made iconic films throughout the decade, including A Farewell to Arms, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.

Edward (#12) G. Robinson rose to fame playing a gangster in Little Caesar (1931). He continued the rise with roles like Barbary Coast (1935) and Kid Galahad (1937).

Fred (#34) Astaire and Virginia ($15) McNath, better known as Ginger Rogers, danced their way across films like Swing Time and Top Hat.

Katharine Hepburn was a top leading lady. While her name's spelling wasn't in the top 100, other variants like Catherine (#39) and Katherine (#97) were.

Loretta (#81) Young made over 50 films in the 1930s, though most people remember her starring in the Loretta Young Show during the 1950s.

Science and Invention

Science and invention saw great strides during the 1930s. As international travel became easier, scientific and engineering thoughts and theories spread quickly word wide.

Clarence (#46) Birdseye patented the frozen food process in 1930. His method ushered in a new era of long-term food preservation, a key in modern food processing and delivery.

Clyde (#89) Tombaugh discovered Pluto, once thought to be the ninth planet. Today, it's reclassified as a dwarf planet.

Roy (#39) J. Plunkett discovered the chemical substance best known as Teflon purely by accident in 1938. It's commonly used to coat non-stick pans, though it has hundreds of applications in multiple industries including medical, plumbing, printing, and air filters.

Which of these 1930s names tickle your fancy? Below you can find the full lists!

Top 100 Baby Names for the 1930s
1930s kids

It's been 90 years since the 1930s; are the top names from this decade still popular? Let's take a look at where the top five boy and girl names from this decade stand in 2023.

For boys, the top five names in the 1930s were Robert, James, John, William, and Richard. Robert is still decently popular at 144, while James is extremely popular in 2023 at rank nine. The basic name of John is still used quite often, ranking at 40 on the popularity scale in 2023. William fairs similarly to James, sitting at a comfortable 12 in 2023. Finally, Richard has fallen a lot in popularity since the 1930s, ranking at 411 today. If you want an uncommon name for your son, Richard might be the way to go!

For girls, the top five names in the 1930s were Mary, Betty, Barbara, Shirley, and Patricia. In 2023, Mary ranks at 330. Not too bad, but certainly not all that popular anymore. That ranking is a lot better than Betty's, though- that name sits at 2,179 in 2023. Barbara ranks higher than Betty, but still sits quite low at 1,831. Shirley just barely makes the Top 3,000 at 2,933. Finally, Patricia fairs similarly to a lot of these names at 2,096. With the exception of Mary, all of these names are quite rare in 2023!

Top 100 Baby Names by Decade

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