Call it Jacob's ladder.
When it comes to the most popular names for baby boys in the United States, "Michael" long held sway. For most of the 1960s, and then on throughout the '70s and '80s (and almost all of the '90s!), the given name of Mssrs. Jackson and Jordan, Kors and J. Fox, was the most common in the land. And then, in 1999—probably under the influence of boredom and/or Y2K fears and/or Prince songs—Michael fell, ever so slightly, in the rankings. The go-to name for so many decades' worth of American boys was forced to give up its crown to the new name-leader: Jacob.
You may have seen the amazing GIF of the nation's most popular girls' names that Becca wrote about last week. Today, Deadspin's census data GIFmaster, Reuben Fischer-Baum, has published the male version of that image: a single GIF depicting the evolution—or the lack thereof—of American boys' names from 1960 to today. Embedded in the moving image above (and in the year-by-year frames that comprise it) are fascinating little geo-specific data-nuggets: You can watch Jose and Angel emerge in Texas and Arizona. You can see names like James, Christopher, and William become—and remain—especially popular in the South. You can see how, in 1964, John was the most popular name for boys in 11 states. The likely reason? The assassination of President Kennedy.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.