Because of the coronavirus pandemic, one out of every five US workers has filed for unemployment and the unemployment rate is at its highest levels since the Great Depression. Many scholars and economists fear the country will experience a recession in the pandemic’s aftermath. This has us thinking a lot about the 1930s and classic books like The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, along with newer works about the time like Mary Coin. As we were reading through these, we noticed that the characters had some very interesting names. For instance, Curley, Candy, Slim, and Lennie are all names included in Of Mice and Men.
What were the most popular names of the Depression Era? We combed through data collected by the Social Security Administration which compiles lists of popular baby names for each year. They released the 200 most popular names for girls and boys from the decade. The most popular name for girls in the 1930s was Mary and for boys, it was Robert. Now, Mary and Robert are fine names, but we wanted to find some truly interesting names that we think would fit at this moment. Here are 25 forgotten baby names from the 1930s that are primed for a comeback.
In the 1930s, Rosalie was a hot name for young girls. At number 153 on the list, it wasn’t as common as Mary, but it was really popular. The name Rosalie has French origins and means “beautiful rose.”
At number 140 of 200 names for boys, Virgil was a favored name. The name Virgil has Latin origins and means “staff bearer.” This poetic name is a true classic that deserves some love today.
Ida has Germanic roots and means “work.” Ida is a fantastic name for girls and parents in the 1930s cherished it. It was the 120 most popular name for girls in the decade.
Cecil is number 113 on the list and was a very popular boy’s name throughout the depression. The name Cecil is of English origin and means “blind.” Cecil would be a unique name for a little boy today.
at 124, Constance wasn’t the most popular name but it certainly is one of the most beautiful on the list. Its shorter form, Connie also made the list so there’s was no shortage of love for the name. It means “constant” and has Latin origins.
Morris made the top 200 list of names for boys. Today, it’s more common to hear Morris as a surname, but it was all the rage as a given name during the Depression. The Morris is the French form of the Latin, Mauritius which is a reference to the Moorish people.
Pearl is a gorgeous name for girls that was very common in the 1930s landing at number 158 on the list. Pearl means “precious” and is an English name.
Enjoying the same popularity as Pearl, Homer was another favorable name for children in the 30s. This strong-sounding name is of Greek origin and belonged to the Greek epic poet, Homer who wrote The Oddysey.
At number 160, Mae was a stylish name for Depression Era girls. Mae West was a popular actress with the name in the 1930s and 40s. The name Mae has English origins and means “bitter” or “pearl.”
The name Clyde broke into the top 100 baby names for boys in the 1930s. The name Clyde refers to a Scottish river that flows through Glasgow. Clyde has a very cool sound to it and we’d love to hear more of this name today.
Another top 100 name, Hazel is number 92 on the list. Hazel is an English name that refers to the hazelnut tree. The tree symbolized protection and authority in the Middle Ages. Which helped make the name popular among English speakers.
Luther was a hot name for boys during the depression. The name has English and German origins and means “people army” or “lute player.”
Verna is a beautiful name for girls with an equally attractive meaning. The French name means “springtime.” Verna is number 180 out of 200 and has a lot of charm.
We tend to think of Junior as a nickname, but the given name Junior was highly favored in the 1930s. Junior has Latin origins and as you might expect, means “younger.” Junior would be a playful and sweet name for a baby boy.
Viola, Velma, and Violet were three very popular V names for girls. Our favorite is Viola which comes from Latin and Italian and means “violet.” This floral-inspired name would be beautiful for a Spring baby.
Would you believe that the name Johnnie was the 199 most popular name for girls in the 1930s? You better believe it! Johnnie has Hebrew roots and it’s a short form of Johnna. The name means “God is gracious.” We love the idea of a little girl named Johnnie!
Stella!!! The name Stella is a knockout! The name comes from Latin and Italian and means “star.” Stella was one of the most popular names for little girls in the 1930s.
Willis is another name that we associate as a surname today that was actually more common as a given name in the 1930s. Willis is a Norman name that means “well” as in “drinking well.” Or, let’s be romantic! A wishing well!
Lillie was the preferred spelling of the name back in the 30s and it was red hot! The name Lilly is English. It refers to the lily flower. It was not as fashionable as Lillian at the time, but both names made the top 200.
Manuel is a name that originated in the Hebrew name, Immanuel. The name is common in Spanish and we think it is extremely handsome. Manuel was the 132 most popular name for boys during the Depression.
Like Johnnie, Bobbie is another name we were surprised to find on the top 200 list for girls. The name was more popular than Sara in the 30s. Bobbie would make an adorable name for a baby girl. The name comes from Barbara or Roberta means “bright fame.”
Oscar the Grouch gave Oscars everywhere a bad rap! Oscar was a very popular name for boys that is primed for a comeback. Oscar has English and Irish roots and means “deer-lover” or “God Spear” or “champion warrior.” We’ll take all three!
Country music legend, Patsy Cline was born in 1932. It was one of the top 100 names given to girls during the Depression. Patsy is a shortened form of Patricia with Latin and English origins that means “noble.”
Victor is a strong name for a boy that’s fallen out of the top spot. In the 1930s, the name was the most commonly given names for boys. Early Christians used the name to honor Christ’s victory of sin and death. It’s a Latin name that means “conquerer.”
Hilda is such an enchanting name for girls. It barely made the list at 197. Hilda is a Norse name that means “battle.” We think this charming name is ready to hit the charts again.
While an economic depression might not be the most upbeat thing to think about, the 1930s were a great time for baby names. As they used to say, these names are cute as a bug’s ear! We hope you found baby name inspiration from these fantastic monikers.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 25. Rosalie
- 2 24. Virgil
- 3 23. Ida
- 4 22. Cecil
- 5 21. Constance
- 6 20. Morris
- 7 19. Pearl
- 8 18. Homer
- 9 17. Mae
- 10 16. Clyde
- 11 15. Hazel
- 12 14. Luther
- 13 13. Verna
- 14 12. Junior
- 15 11. Viola
- 16 10. Johnnie
- 17 9. Stella
- 18 8. Willis
- 19 7. Lillie
- 20 6. Manuel
- 21 5. Bobbie
- 22 4. Oscar
- 23 3. Patsy
- 24 2. Victor
- 25 1. Hilda
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.
Baby Name Generator
No baby name sounding good? Want a quick way to generate unique baby name ideas? Try our baby name generator below!
Set your terms (sex of the baby, number of letters, popularity, etc.) and then get a list of names that meet your criteria. Maybe the perfect name is just waiting to be generated for you.