Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

How can I find a name so rare, that was only given to five or so babies in 1980?

In my entry for Social Security Popular Baby Names , I claim you can answer the question “How can I find a name so rare, that was only given to five or so babies in 1980? ” with this resource. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the site and click on Background Information.
  2. In the left hand column, click on Beyond the Top 1000 Names.
  3. Two files are available, national and state. For this example, download the national file – This will actually be a “compressed folder” of a number of years.
  4. Open yob1980.txt, either in a spreadsheet or a text editor. Each line is formatted [name], gender, number of people with that name.
  5. About two thirds down the file, you’ll find a group of  [name],F,5. The group of [name],M,5. will be towards the bottom of the file. For extensive exploration of this file, I’d recommend a spreadsheet.


Some rare names for girls born in 1980:

  • Adonica,F,5
  • Daiquiri,F,5
  • Mistique,F,5
  • Zobeida,F,5

Some rare names for boys born in 1980:

  • Bladimir,M,5
  • Diogenes,M,5
  • Montavius,M,5
  • Zhivago,M,5



Social Security Popular Baby Names  is just one of a number of “fictional home and work life” resources in Writer’s Guide to Government Information.


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