Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (2023)

With the U.S. Census 2020 in full swing, we’re diving deep into the 700+ million records in the U.S. Census collection on MyHeritage. We crunched the numbers and uncovered some intriguing trends in the most popular given names of women, starting from 1850 and ending in 1940 (with the exception of the 1890 records, which were unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1921). These trends give us a peek into the lives of the incredible women and matriarchs who appear in this collection — and the mindsets of the parents who chose their names.

What was your great-grandmother’s given name? Search our U.S. Census records for free!

Check out the data visualization below for a fascinating perspective on what we found:

Let’s take a closer look at the names that remain perennial favorites over this period, learn more about their origins, and meet some of the famous American women who bore them:


Was there a Mary in your family tree? It’s likely, because this name was the most common by far through much of American history, including the period covered by the visualization above. Many parents chose to name their daughter Mary as an expression of devout Christian faith. In fact, due to a Catholic Church tradition of naming children only after Christian saints, many girls were officially christened Mary at their baptism — but went by other names within the family. You may have an ancestor who was known to you or your family members by a different name, and be surprised to find her listed as “Mary” in a census record.

Variants to the name Mary have also been popular. In the visualization, the name Minnie, which was sometimes a nickname for Mary, as well as the French variant Marie both make their way into the top 10.

One famous American Mary was Mary Cassatt. Born in 1844 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, Mary Cassat was an Impressionist painter who opened a new window into the private worlds of women through her paintings, particularly with her depictions of the intimate bonds between mothers and children.

Mary Cassatt’s Maternal Caress, 1896 (Credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Most painters at the time were men, so Mary’s contribution to the art world was different and invaluable. Mary was an advocate for women’s equality and campaigned for women’s right to vote in the 1910s.


Elizabeth, originally derived from the Biblical name Elisheva, was also extremely popular for centuries and certainly during the span of these 100 years as seen in the visualization. There have been two ruling monarchs of England named Elizabeth, both of them iconic. Interestingly, though, the name Elizabeth has been more popular in the U.S. than in the U.K.

Variants of Elizabeth that also appear with popularity in the U.S. census include Eliza, Lizzie, and Betty. It’s interesting to note from the visualization that when Elizabeth trends downwards, shorter nicknames like Eliza and Lizzie trend upwards — perhaps indicating that Americans of the time preferred to use shorter names.

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One Elizabeth/Eliza who captured the hearts and minds of Americans around this time period was Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton. After her husband’s untimely death, Eliza dedicated her life to public service and charity work, and to preserving her husband’s legacy.

Eliza Hamilton painted by Ralph Earl, circa 1787, (Credit: The Museum of the City of New York)

She founded the first private orphanage in New York City and lived to the ripe old age of 97. She is remembered as one of American’s first philanthropists for her work with the Orphan Asylum Society.


Margaret is the English version of the French Marguerite, the Latin Margarita, and the Greek Margarites, all of which were derived from the Old Persian word margarita, which means “pearl.”

Maggie, a variant or nickname for Margaret, also appears among the most popular names for women in the U.S. census.

One Margaret who contributed significantly to American culture was Margaret Mead, an American cultural anthropologist who called into question many norms of American society with her studies of South Pacific and Southeast Asian cultures.

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (3)

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (4)


Sarah, a biblical name meaning “princess” or “noblewoman,” came into popular use in Europe after the Protestant Reformation. Since the 1880’s in the U.S., Sarah has retained high popularity as a given name. Though the name dips slightly towards the end of this visualization, Sarah has remained a top choice for names throughout the 20th century, and even makes a reappearance in the top 10 list later on in the 20th century, from 1978 through 2002.

Sarah Josepha Hale, painted by James Reid Lambdin, circa 1831, (Credit: Richard’s Free Library, Newport, New Hampshire)

(Video) How to Search U.S. Census Records on MyHeritage

Sarah Josepha Hale was a famous American author and editor known for writing one of the first novels about slavery, entitled, Northwood: Life North and South.

In addition to being one of the first American female novelists, Sarah wrote a book of poetry for children that included the famous nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”


Catherine is another traditional Christian name that has Greek roots. Its many variations include different spellings (Katherine, Kathryn, etc.) and adaptations into different languages, such as Cathleen, Kaitlyn, and even Karen. Common nicknames for Catherine include Kate and Cathy.

One notable American named Katharine was Katharine Hepburn, a famous American actress who was a leading lady in Hollywood for over 60 years. She is remembered as an important cultural figure for her fierce independence and refusal to conform to society’s ideas of what women should be. For example, she wore slacks before they became commonplace for women in America.

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (6)

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (7)


The name Jane is a cognate of John. The more common variant of the name was Joan until the mid-16th century, when aristocrats began using the name Jane — derived from the French Jehanne.

An American Jane worth noting is Jane Addams, a social worker and political activist who took an active role in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and she’s largely recognized as the founder of social work as a profession in the U.S.

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (8)

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Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (9)


The name Martha has Biblical origins, but like the name Sarah, it only came into popular use after the Protestant Reformation. There have been many famous Marthas in American history — not least of whom America’s first lady, Martha Washington.

A notable Martha from the period of 1850–1940 was Martha Graham, a modern dancer and choreographer whose technique (the Graham Technique) has become a cornerstone of American dance tradition. Martha was the first-ever dancer to perform at the White House, and to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction: the highest civilian award in the United States.

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (10)

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (11)


The name Emma is derived from the Germanic word ermen, which means “whole” or “universal.” It is sometimes used as a diminutive of other names beginning with an “em” sound, such as Emmeline or Amelia. As we can see from the visualization, it rose in popularity in the U.S. during the last half of the 19th century.

Emma Lazarus engraving, 1889 (Credit: Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin and company)

The words of one Emma have been welcoming brand-new citizens to America since 1903. Emma Lazarus was an American author and poet of Sephardic Jewish heritage. The last stanza of her sonnet, “The Colossus,” expressed so much of what America strived to be that it was installed on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Emma was also a political activist who helped immigrants learn a vocation and become self-supporting.


Anna and its variations, such as Ann and Annie, star in the top 10 names in the U.S. census.

Aside from Ann, Anne, Annie, and Hannah, Nancy (which appears in the top 10 in 1860) is also a variation on Anna. One of the most famous Annas in American history is a woman who didn’t actually go by the name Anna at all: Eleanor Roosevelt was born Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, but went by her middle name for most of her life. Eleanor was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945 throughout her husband’s 4 terms in office. She reinvented the role of the first lady, making public appearances and becoming a prominent political figure in her own right.

(Video) Learn how to get the most out of a census record with Thomas MacEntee!

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (13)

Most Popular Female Names in the U.S. Census - MyHeritage Blog (14)

Though the name Eleanor didn’t make it to the top 10 list, our census data shows that it certainly gained popularity throughout the ’30s and ’40s.


Alice appears on the chart in 1910 and peaks in 1920. It has been in use since the 13th century, but became popular toward the end of the 19th century. This is largely attributed to Lewis Carrol’s 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. The name is derived from the Germanic name Adalhaidis, meaning “of the nobility.”

Alice Playing Croquet with Flamingo, Alice in Wonderland, 1865 (Credit: Illustration by Sir John Tenniel)

It’s fascinating to see how naming trends shift over the decades and contemplate why parents chose a particular name. Were they more traditional and seeking a name with religious significance? Were they looking to honor a beloved relative? Or hoping for something a bit bolder or rosier?

The women from this period in American history formed lasting impressions that will forever shape what these names mean for future generations. Do you have an American ancestor with one of these names? If you don’t know yet, maybe you can find out in the U.S. census collection — available from MyHeritage for free until April 12th. Click here to explore them and discover your ancestors!

Tags: Data visualization, First Names, Given Names, Popular Women's Names, U.S. Census records


What is the most popular female name in the USA? ›

Top Names Over the Last 100 Years
86 more rows

What is the most common woman name? ›

According to the SSA, these are the most popular names for baby girls in the United States right now.
  • Olivia.
  • Emma.
  • Charlotte.
  • Amelia.
  • Ava.
  • Sophia.
  • Isabella.
  • Mia.
Dec 19, 2022

Are there any female surnames? ›

Except in the matrilineal system women do not have a “feminine” surname. They use their father's surname while single and acquire their husband's surname at marriage.

What is the top girl name for 2022? ›

The Most Popular Baby Names
  • Gianna.
  • Harper.
  • Isabella.
  • Luna.
  • Mia.
  • Scarlett.
  • Sofia.
  • Sophia.
Jul 8, 2022

What is a royal female name? ›

Diana, Elizabeth, Eugine, and Mary are some famous yet common royal names for girls.

What girl name means gift from God? ›

Daysha (Latin) “gift from God” Dilsey (Sanskrit) “gift of God” Dolly (English) “gift of God” - Dolly is also on our list of southern baby girl names. Doretta (Greek) “gift of God” - Doretta is also on our list of beautiful old fashioned girl names.

What is a pretty name for a girl? ›

Top 1,000 Baby Girl Names of 2021
  • Olivia.
  • Emma.
  • Charlotte.
  • Amelia.
  • Ava.
  • Sophia.
  • Isabella.
  • Mia.
Aug 12, 2022

What is a rare last name for a girl? ›

Rare Surname Names for Girls: Adair, Isley, Zavala.

What is the most common girls name in the last 100 years? ›

The following table shows the five most frequent given names for male and female babies born in each year 1922-2021. Over the last 100 years, the male name Michael has held the top spot most often (44 times), while the female name Mary has been ranked number one 34 times over those years.

Can a woman take back her first husband's name after divorce a second husband? ›

Typically, state laws allow a woman to include a name change in the final decree of divorce if she wishes, but the choice is limited to surnames she has used in the past. In Texas, for example, a wife divorcing her second husband could choose to resume the use of her maiden surname or that of her first husband.

What last names don't exist? ›

There is a list of names that are extinct. It includes Bread, Spinster, Chips, Rummage, Pussett, Temples, Wellbelove, Hatman and Bytheseashore. Know anyone with those names – hardly. Other names with just a few individuals include Fernsby, Rushlands, Berrycloth, Dankworth, Birdwhistle, Relish and Tumbler.

Why do wives take their husband's last name? ›

The tradition of women changing their last names to match their husbands' has its origins in the property transfer that took place upon marriage, Scheuble said. Essentially, women went from being part of their parents' family to becoming their husbands' property.

What names will be popular in 2023? ›

The Bump's Top 1000 Baby Girl and Boy Names for 2023
  • Kai.
  • Eliana.
  • Jayden.
  • Ezra.
  • Luca.
  • Rowan.
  • Nova.
  • Amara.
Dec 12, 2022

What is the coolest name in 2023? ›

Maximalist Baby Names
  • Amadeus.
  • Cassiopeia.
  • Euphemia.
  • Octavius.
  • Persephone.
  • Zephyrine.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the most meaningful name for a girl? ›

100 Strong Baby Names For Girls
  1. Adira. This is the feminine version of the name Adir, which is a Hebrew name meaning strong, courageous, mighty. ...
  2. Alcmene. An ancient Greek name, Alcmene, is derived from two words meaning strength and wrath. ...
  3. Alessia. ...
  4. Alexia. ...
  5. Aluma. ...
  6. Andricia. ...
  7. Audrey. ...
  8. Ayesha.

What is the luckiest name for a girl? ›

The Most Popular Lucky Baby Names for Girls
  • Iris - meaning 'rainbow', symbolising luck.
  • Evangeline - 'Bearer of good news' in Greek.
  • Beatrice - Latin meaning of 'she who brings happiness; blessed'
  • Jadie - stone transmitting wisdom and clarity.
  • Kiara - 'bright/light' in Italian.
  • Felicity - 'luck/good fortune' in Latin.
Dec 7, 2022

What is the most popular name in the world for a girl 2023? ›

Olivia is still the most popular girl's name – as it has been for six years – but I think we may see this shift in 2023. Noah will remain a big contender for 2023, and may well hold that top spot.

What are some beautiful rare girl names? ›

Pretty and Unique Baby Girl Names
  • Annalise. A combination of the name Anna and Lise, this name is simple, pretty, and unique.
  • Brigitta. This name is the German, Dutch, and Hungarian form of Bridget, but here, it seems to have a more feminine ring to it.
  • Charmaine. ...
  • Constance. ...
  • Geneviève. ...
  • Larisa. ...
  • Lorelei. ...
  • Lucinda.
Feb 10, 2022

What is a legendary name for a girl? ›

Along with Athena and Luna, other mythological girl names in the US Top 1000 include Aurora, Daphne, Iris, Lilith, Maeve, Maia, Penelope, and Phoebe. Norse and Hindu mythology names are less common among American parents, but offer such beautiful choices as Indira, Priya, and Signy.

What girl name means miracle? ›

The French baby girl names Mireille, Marvel and Marvella all mean “miracle,” while Mireya is a Spanish name that means “miracle.” Micaela and Mikelle are both English names that mean “gift from God,” while Mirabelle is a French name that means “of incredible beauty.” We also love the names Bea, Gwyneth, Annie, Sachi, ...

What girl name means God's love? ›

Abasiama: Meaning “God love” in Ibibo. Agapi: Meaning “God is love” in Greek. Amadea: Meaning “God's beloved” in Latin.

What is a good biblical name for a girl? ›

Other Bible names for girls that have ranked highly over time include Deborah, Hannah, Judith, and Ruth. The Bible is also the unlikely source for some of the trendiest girls' names today, including Delilah — the top girl name starting with D — as well as Ada, Phoebe, Lydia, Naomi, and the many variations of Eve.

What is the longest girl first name? ›

How Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams Got Her Name. Basically, her mother had two main reasons for naming her the longest name in the world: She wanted to set a Guinness record. She wanted her daughter to have a name unlike anyone else in the world.

What are the most unused girl names? ›

Uncommon Baby Girl Names
  • Millicent.
  • Rochelle.
  • Trinity.
  • Rasha.
  • Kindra.
  • Polly.
  • Sonya.
  • Cecilla. Cecilia is the feminine form of Cecil and comes from Latin origin. It translates to the word blind and derives from the Roman clan, Caecilius. In 2021, it ranked at 132 in popular girls' names in the U.S.
Dec 2, 2022

What is the least common girl name? ›

For girls' names, Angela, Kimberley Alexa and Nicole ranked as some of the least popular.
Most unpopular girls names for 2022:
  • Kimberly.
  • Alexa.
  • Nicole.
  • Ashley.
  • Sophia.
  • Lorraine.
  • Kristen.
  • Suzanne.
Aug 15, 2022

What are old fashioned girls names? ›

Ada, Agnes, Alice, Amelia, Audra, Audrey, Ava, Beatrice, Bessie, Blanche, Cicely, Cora, Cordelia, Dinah, Dora, Dorothea, Dorothy, Harriet, Edith, Elise, Elsie, Elspeth, Emily, Emmeline, Esme, Eva, Evelyn, Evie, Flora, Florence, Greta, Gretchen, Harriet, Hattie, Irene, Iris, Ivy, Lena, Lilith, Lillian, Mabel, Maisie, ...

What was the most popular girls name in 1950? ›

Top names of the 1950s
87 more rows

Can I put single If I am divorced? ›

Single. As a single person, you are not legally bound to anyone—unless you have a dependent. You can be considered as single if you have never been married, were married but then divorced, or have lost your spouse.

Why do ex wives keep last name? ›

Many women choose to hold onto their married name after a divorce because of their children. Sharing the same last name can make women feel more connected to their children. It can also provide a sense of stability for younger children who will not understand why their mother has a different last name.

Can you make your ex wife drop your last name? ›

With essentially no legal action you can take to force your ex to change her name, you are left with very few options. In the end, you may just be stuck with her decision to keep it, even if it really bothers you.

What is a very uncommon name? ›

  • Flynn.
  • Loyal.
  • Everest.
  • Indigo.
  • Caspian.
  • Rome.
  • Hadleigh.
  • Yehuda.
Dec 22, 2022

What is the weirdest last name? ›

Rather, each one of them has an intriguing meaning that reveals, little by little, the kind of world our forefathers inhabited.
  • English. Bodycomb. Bytheseashore (pronounced 'Bitherseeshore') ...
  • Italian. Bellagamba (“beautiful leg”) Borgnino (“blind in one eye”) ...
  • Spanish. Cienfuegos (“hundred fires”) Escarra (“left-handed”)
Feb 26, 2016

Which country has no family name? ›

As there are no last names, Icelanders often go by first names with a middle name for clarification. While this may seem strict to outsiders, it is for good reason, and that is to protect Iceland's cultural heritage, they say, which is a huge part of the Icelandic language and identity.

Is it true that do not assume a married woman has her husband's last name? ›

No. According to prevailing jurisprudence, “a married woman has the option, but not a duty, to use the surname of the husband.” Therefore, upon marriage, married women have the option to continuously use her maiden name or: Her maiden first name and surname and add her husband's surname; or.

What do you call a married woman who keeps her maiden name? ›

The prefix Mrs., pronounced missus, is used to describe any married woman. Today, many women decide they want to keep their last name instead of taking their husband's. These women are still referred to as Mrs. A widowed woman is also referred to as Mrs., out of respect for her deceased husband.

What is it called when a woman takes her husband's last name? ›

It all comes down to one word: coverture.

What is the top 10 girl names in the US? ›

Top 1,000 Baby Girl Names of 2021
  • Olivia.
  • Emma.
  • Charlotte.
  • Amelia.
  • Ava.
  • Sophia.
  • Isabella.
  • Mia.
Aug 12, 2022

What is the number 1 name in America? ›

The most popular baby names 2021 in the US are led by Olivia in the top spot for girls and Liam as the #1 name for boys. The most recent list of popular names ranks all the names given to five or more newborns born in the US in 2021.

What is the most popular name in the US 2022? ›

Liam ranks number one for boys. predicts 18,960 babies will be named Liam in 2022. Olivia ranks number one for girls, with a predicted 16,510 babies named Olivia.

What is the prettiest girl name that starts with a? ›

Based on recent statistics, here are the most popular girl names beginning with A:
  • Ava. This modern spelling of the name Eva entered the top list in the twenty-first century. ...
  • Amelia. ...
  • Abigail. ...
  • Avery. ...
  • Aria. ...
  • Aurora. ...
  • Aubrey. ...
  • Addison.
Jun 23, 2022

What is an old American name? ›

Along with Emma and Henry, other vintage baby names in the US Top 500 include Abraham, Arthur, Edith, Frederick, Josephine, Olive, Philip, Rosemary, and Walter. Other old-fashioned names that are up-and-coming include Amos, Ida, Lucinda, and Ralph.

What is the most common female first letter? ›

For baby girls, the most-used first letter was A, followed by E and M. The least-used first letter was U. More than 272,000 baby girls got an A-name last year, whereas fewer than 700 got a U-name.

What is a typical American girl name? ›

Along with Savannah, American girl names in the US Top 100 include Brooklyn, Sage, Paisley, Everly, Genesis, Serenity, Nevaeh, Kaylee, and Brielle. A little further down the list, we find American names Sage, Lyric, Presley, Monroe, Harlow, Justice, Jolie, Georgia, Carolina, and Scout.

Which name means God's gift? ›

Jonathan. He was a prince of great strength in the Bible. His name means "gift from God."


1. Discover Your Family History with MyHeritage's Unique Technologies
2. What's in a Surname: The History of Surnames and How They Help in Family History Research
3. An Overview of Important Historical Record Collections
4. Fascinating Family History Reveal on Dr. Phil
5. Wills and How They Can Help Sort Out Family Relationships
6. How to Find Your Family in the 1950 US Census Using the NARA Website
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