What made it more interesting was to think about why these names have declined in popularity. I think it's generally a function of the most famous people with that name, an association that is often hard to shake. For instance, in the last sixty years, few parents have named their sons "Adolf."
In some of the cases I couldn't come up with an explanation, but in others, it seemed glaringly obvious.
"Roseanne" is now ranked at #14,265. This one seemed a little easier to explain. Who is the most famous Roseanne you can think of? Barr, right? How many parents do you think look at their sweet little bundle of joy and hope she turns out to be like THE Roseanne?
Or, for that matter Rosie (Roseann) O'Donnell?
"Hattie," now at #993. (Who knew it was still that high?)
"Dorothy" was popular in the first half of the 20th century, but now ranks at #937. Who's the first person to come to mind when you hear that name? The one who went to Oz? Well, that movie was made in 1939, and has long since peaked. And the most famous real person? Dorothy Lamour? Dorothy Parker? Both long gone. Even Dorothy Hamill is no longer known to people of child-bearing age. So the name languishes.
"Madeline" was popular in the early 1990's but has since lost its popularity. Those popular Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans may have lost some of their influence since the start of the internet era in the late 90's.
"Willow" was popular in the early 1900's but has pretty much disappeared since the 1960's. (Is that name too pliable-sounding for current feminist sensibilities?)
"Pamela" was a top 30 name from 1937 to 1971, but is no longer. The most prominent Pamela of recent years has been Anderson. But she didn't achieve Baywatch fame until 1992, so her I-don't-want-my-daughter-to-grow-up-like-that effect doesn't explain the decline of the name starting in 1971.
"Ann" was a top 100 name from 1899 to 1973, but now ranks at #996. Not sure why.
"Leona," formerly a popular name, is now ranked #929. This one is real easy: the existence of that sociopath Leona Helmsley, "The Queen of Mean," was enough to dissuade any parent from choosing that name for their daughter.
"Janet," now #951. Again, fairly easy. The two most prominent Janets of recent years have been Janet Reno, Bill Clinton's Attorney General:
And Janet Napolitano, the current director of Homeland Security:
While both women have had undeniably successful careers, neither quite matches the feminine appeal of Janet Leigh, whose career peaked in 1960, with Psycho:
It does seem parents are more moved by pulchritude than power.
Predictions for the near future: we'll see more Keira's [Knightley] and Angelina's [Jolie], and fewer Amanda's [Knox] and Casey's [Anthony].