Given Names

A given name is a first name like Robert or Sarah or Phineas, generally assigned to a person by the parents at birth. People have the power to modify their given name by substituting a middle name or nickname or by formally changing their names, but only a small percentage ever completely give up the original version, even if it's used only in formal contexts.

There are fashions in given names. Typically, the emergence of an admired celebrity with a particular name will cause a jump in occurrences of that name. Other names move more slowly in and out of style, and sometimes back in again.

The data on this page, drawn from the file of licensed drivers in Michigan, shows the change over time among the top ten given names for each gender and year of birth.

Top Ten Women's Names for each year of birth, 1900-1977

Top Ten Men's Names for each year of birth, 1900-1977

Created and maintained by Lawrence Kestenbaum; web hosting provided by Paul Haas.

Revised, January 16, 1999; July 9, 2002