From 1970 to 1984, the top female name given to babies in America was Jennifer. And I look around at the kids of today and I promise you this: There is not a Jennifer among them. Where has the name Jennifer gone?

Well, we might not be able to tell you where Jennifer went but we certainly can speculate on how this name, which seemed to come from nowhere, ended up dominating a generation. Yes, unlike Mary, Catherine, John or Michael, Jennifer can not be traced back to biblical or royal roots. The parents naming their daughters Jennifer likely had no one else in their family — much less a grandmother or great-grandmother — from whom the name was passed down.

jennifer-aniston

Jennifer Aniston may have been born one year before the name became No. 1 but it still was a popular one, as it came in at No. 3 in 1969. Image: Hollywood Reporter

Jennifer originates from the name Guinevere but was quite rare until the 20th century when it slowly gained in popularity. With a couple of high-profile women bearing the name, it had two sudden spikes in popularity, setting it on its way to being a name that defined a generation. Jennifer Jones was an actress who won the Oscar in 1944 for Best Actress for her role in The Song of Bernadette. The next year, the name was a Top 200 name on the list of popular names in America, having only broken the Top 1,000 list a few years before in 1938. It became a Top 100 name in 1956 and then a Top 10 name in 1966. Then in 1970, Hollywood stepped in once again with a little film called Love Story. This tragic and romantic movie touched the hearts of people all over the world as fans cried when the main character, Jennifer, died from a terminal illness. For the next 14 years, from 1970-1984, Jennifer reigned supreme as the No. 1 girls’ name in the United States.

When we look around at all the actresses named Jennifer today, surely this name will come back in favor, right? Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Hudson … By 2015, Jennifer had fallen to No. 252 on the list of most popular baby names.

Interestingly, between 1997 and 2012, Madison was a Top 10 girls’ name and the name is often compared to Jennifer. And yes, names like Emma, Emily and Isabelle were Top 10 names, as well. But similar to Jennifer, there was no prescedent for Madison. Likely, this wasn’t a family name; it’s not from royalty or the Bible. As a surname, it’s a name with which people were familiar. But unlike Jennifer, Madison did not have the No. 1 place for 14 years. Jennifer alone claims that place of honor, thus very much remaining a generational phenomenon.

And since we’re talking popular names, did you know that Mary was the most popular name for the first EIGHT decades the Social Security Administration was collecting data? Yes, from the 1880s through the 1950s, Mary had the No. 1 slot and, for the first decade that Mary fell from the top slot, the 1960s, it still claimed the No. 2 spot. But by the 1970s, Jennifer surged to the top for 14 years. Yes, it was no Mary — but there have been Marys for thousands of years. Jennifer was new, fresh and generation defining.

Mary Tyler Moore

Mary Tyler Moore is just one of the many named Mary in America. And while she defined a generation, her first name did not. Image: biography.com

Here is the list of Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 for the United States — and then we break down each of the Southern states, as well, to show regional differences. It’s worth noting that while Sophia was the No. 1 name for girls last year, it only shows up twice in the Top 3 most popular names in the Southern region — Florida and Texas. And in Alabama and South Carolina, it doesn’t show up in the Top 10. There also are no Marys or Jennifers.

For the record, Jennifer needs a triumphant return.

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — United States (all stats from the Social Security Administration)

  1. Sophia
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Ava
  5. Mia
  6. Isabella
  7. Zoe
  8. Lily
  9. Emily
  10. Madison

 

Top 10 girls’ names in  2015 — Tennessee

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Harper
  5. Abigail
  6. Sophia
  7. Elizabeth
  8. Isabella
  9. Madison
  10. Emily

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Alabama

  1. Ava
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Isabella
  5. Elizabeth
  6. Madison
  7. Harper
  8. Ella
  9. Abigail
  10. Brooklyn

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — North Carolina

  1. Ava
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Isabella
  5. Sophia
  6. Abigail
  7. Madison
  8. Harper
  9. Elizabeth
  10. Charlotte

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — South Carolina

  1. Ava
  2. Olivia
  3. Emma
  4. Madison
  5. Elizabeth
  6. Isabella
  7. Harper
  8. Abigail
  9. Skylar
  10. Emily

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Georgia

  1. Ava
  2. Olivia
  3. Emma
  4. Madison
  5. Isabella
  6. Sophia
  7. Abigail
  8. Emily
  9. Charlotte
  10. Harper

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Virginia

  1. Emma
  2. Ava
  3. Olivia
  4. Charlotte
  5. Sophia
  6. Abigail
  7. Isabella
  8. Elizabeth
  9. Madison
  10. Harper

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Kentucky

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Harper
  5. Isabella
  6. Addison
  7. Sophia
  8. Paisley
  9. Abigail
  10. Ella

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Louisiana

  1. Ava
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Isabella
  5. Harper
  6. Madison
  7. Aubrey
  8. Avery
  9. Amelia
  10. Sophia

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Arkansas

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Isabella
  5. Harper
  6. Sophia
  7. Abigail
  8. Avery
  9. Paisley
  10. Ella

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Texas

  1. Emma
  2. Sophia
  3. Mia
  4. Isabella
  5. Olivia
  6. Sofia
  7. Ava
  8. Abigail
  9. Emily
  10. Victoria

 

Top 10 girls’ names in 2015 — Florida

  1. Isabella
  2. Emma
  3. Sophia
  4. Olivia
  5. Mia
  6. Ava
  7. Emily
  8. Sophia
  9. Abigail
  10. Madison

 

Interested in more random facts? How about this article we wrote on why the Florida Panhandle doesn’t belong to Alabama — when it certainly looks like it should. Again, we find these historical tidbits interesting. We think you will, too! Did Florida Steal Rosemary Beach from Alabama?