Map: Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Boys, State-by-State


As a companion to “Six Decades of the Most Popular Names for Girls,” the map above shows the most popular names for boys, by state, from 1960 to 2012. Once again, names that are the most popular nationwide for that year are colored, and all data come from the Social Security Administration. One note: For space reasons I shortened “Christopher” to “Chris,” all other names are as they appear in the SSA rolls.

Trends in boy names are a bit less interesting than those for girls, as only three—David, Michael, and Jacob—have taken the top spot at some point since 1960. They don’t fall in and out of fashion quite as dramatically: Mary, Susan, and Linda, the three most popular girls’ names in 1960, are now ranked 123rd, 839th, and 639th, while David, Michael, and James, the three most popular names for boys in 1960, are now 19th, eighth, and 14th. It’s a lot easier to think of grandma-sounding names for women than it is to think of grandpa-sounding names for men.

This is in part because people seem to favor more traditional names for boys. David, Michael, and Jacob are Biblical names, as are James, Jason, Joshua, Ethan, Matthew, and John, all of which appear on the maps at least 30 times. Christopher appears 177 times, and while it’s not a name from the Bible, it’s certainly religious.

There are some interesting regional trends on display here, as you can see names like James, Christopher, and William take firm root in the South, while Jose and Angel pop up in Texas and Arizona. There’s some somber history as well—in 1964, in the wake of JFK’s assassination, “John” was the most popular name for boys in eleven states and was very nearly the most popular name in the country, just 0.15% behind Michael.

Here are the maps for each year:

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