I went to a small school when I was a kid, but my class always had five girls named Linda—and one year we had six. That was nearly half the girls in the class. One year a teacher decided that since we all had different middle names, the problem was solved. So for one school year, the teacher called me “Sue.” I wasn’t crazy about sharing a name with four other students, but never liked my middle name at all.
“Why did you name me Linda?” I asked my mom.
“Because it’s such a pretty name,” she said. “I didn’t want you to have an odd name like mine.” Her mother named her Lula. I thought her middle name, Ellen, was beautiful and I would have been proud to be the only Ellen in our class—heck, maybe in the whole school.
I notice that most women named Linda, like me, are baby boomers. This morning, curiosity got the best of me and I discovered that social security has the most popular name listed for the past 100 years. Well, not to my surprise Linda was the No. 1 name from 1948-1952 when it dropped to No. 2 for a couple of years. Still, it was in the top five names from 1944 through 1963: a solid contender for most popular girl’s name for boomers.
The same thing happened with Jennifer in the '70s, Jessica in the '80s, and Emily in the '90s. Someone hears one of those names and they can pretty well guess what generation you belong to. One of the timeless names is Mary—the most popular girl’s name of all.
“Linda” seemed to go out of style after 1963. Someday, it will make a comeback as our great, or great-great granddaughters inherit the name. Then, the naming cycle begins again. Except for Mary, and that never goes out of style.
copyright (c) December 2010 L. S. Fisher