Every author in writing their book(s) has to face the dilemma of what to name our characters, luckily for us if our story takes place in the United States, we have a superb tool to help remedy the situation.   When we name our characters, we want their names to be appropriate for the time period the story is taking place, and of course it would be wonderful if we can know what the most popular names were for our characters when they were born.

In my YA story I want my characters to be around 13 years old which would mean they were born in 1997.  And since my story has a time travel element to it, I would also need to know the most popular names in 1897.

There’s a lot more fun stuff there…you can find out how popular your name has been since  you were born.  Here’s the link to the site.


Here’s the listing I got for 1997.

Popularity in 1997

Rank Male name Female name
1 Michael Emily
2 Jacob Jessica
3 Matthew Ashley
4 Christopher Sarah
5 Joshua Hannah
6 Nicholas Samantha
7 Brandon Taylor
8 Andrew Alexis
9 Austin Elizabeth
10 Tyler Madison
11 Daniel Megan
12 Joseph Kayla
13 Zachary Rachel
14 David Lauren
15 John Alyssa
16 Ryan Amanda
17 James Brianna
18 Anthony Jennifer
19 William Victoria
20 Justin Brittany
Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth.