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


There will always be people out there picking weird names for their kids, but when you look at the choices that make their way to the top you’ll see that Americans tend to play it safe. The maps above, based on data from the Social Security Administration, show the most popular baby names for girls by state, for babies born from 1960 through 2012, with the colors representing the most popular single name for that year.

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half. If you’re named Jennifer and you were born between 1970 and 1984, don’t worry! I’m sure you have a totally cool, unique middle name.

Notably, the recession seems to have put a temporary damper on creative baby naming. In 2007, eight different baby names made the map—including less-traditional names like Addison, Ava, and Madison—and all carried at least two states. By 2012 the map has just five names, and 47 states went with either “Sophia” or “Emma.” A yearning for simpler times?

For your perusing pleasure, here are the maps for each year:

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