Use the Baby Name Explorer to find out when your name was popular

Around the same time I was working on the Name Age Calculator, I developed a simple tool to visualize trends in American baby names. Ever inventive, I named this web app the U.S. Baby Name Explorer.

The idea behind the U.S. Baby Name Explorer is simple: Take the Social Security Administration baby name database and make visual interface for people to look up baby name trends. Whenever you enter a name and click Explore, it will show you the trends for both boys and girls back to the 1880s.

us-baby-name-explorer-hillary

There’s some pretty humorous trends in the database, like the rise of the Tyrions thanks to Game of Thrones:

us-baby-name-explorer-tyrion

and the rise of Nevaeh (“Heaven” backwards) after P.O.D. lead singer Sonny Sandoval named his daughter that in 2000. We sure follow some weird trends when naming our kids.

us-baby-name-explorer-nevaeh

Have fun exploring baby name trends. Here’s a list of the 25 most gender neutral baby names if you’re looking for some more interesting trends to look up.


If you’d like to tinker with the code or send in a bug report (or better yet, a bug fix!), I’ve open sourced the code on GitHub here.

Caveats

Previous research on the Social Security Administration baby name database suggests that records prior to 1940 are estimates and should be taken with a grain of salt. However, records after 1985 are based on actual Social Security records and are quite reliable.

Dr. Randy Olson is a Senior Data Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, where he develops state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms with a focus on biomedical applications.

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  • The baby name database is from the Social Security Admnistration, not the US Census Bureau.

    • Whoops, you’re right. I fixed that. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • It’s interesting (to me) that only one female name (Emily) is as popular as the top 10 male names from the 2000s (http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/names2000s.html).

    The universe from which the names were drawn “includes 21,250,677 male births and 20,297,093 female births”. but I doubt the slightly higher ratio of male to female births can explain this discrepancy in most popular names.

    I wonder if there are more female names, or if female name frequencies are more evenly distributed.