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96 Historic Baby Names Inspired by Badass Activists, Artists, and More

Inspired by history's coolest, kindest, most courageous figures, these names give your kid big shoes to fill.

When searching for the perfect baby name, many parents look to the future, trying to predict which name will become trendy next and which will still sound good when their baby is all grown up. But it’s worth looking to the past when planning for the future. History can tell us a lot, especially which names will sound good for years to come. And historical baby names are not only timeless, they’re inherently meaningful.

The baby names on this list are all inspired by people who’ve lived extraordinary lives. They’ve dedicated themselves to advancing civil rights, made scientific breakthroughs that changed the course of history, and created art that’s touched people across centuries. These historic figures became famous for their kindness, showed courage during some of history’s darkest times, and broke barriers that today’s children benefit from. It’s hard to think of a better way to infuse your kid’s name with meaning.

Best Historic Names for Girls

  1. Amelia (Earhart)
  2. Anne (Frank)
  3. Aretha (Franklin)
  4. Audrey (Hepburn)
  5. (Jane) Austen
  6. Betty (Friedan)
  7. Billie (Holiday)
  8. Coretta (Scott King)
  9. Dorothy (Irene Height)
  10. Eleanor (Roosevelt)
  11. Emily (Dickinson)
  12. (Queen) Elizabeth
  13. Ella (Fitzgerald)
  14. Florence (Nightingale)
  15. Frida (Kahlo)
  16. Georgia (O’Keeffe)
  17. Harriet (Tubman)
  18. Helen (Keller)
  19. Ida (B. Wells)
  20. Jane (Goodall)
  21. Joan (of Arc)
  22. (John F.) Kennedy
  23. Lola (Hendricks)
  24. Lucretia (Mott)
  25. Madeleine (Albright)
  26. Malala (Yousafzai)
  27. Marie (Curie)
  28. Marsha (P. Johnson)
  29. Maya (Angelou)
  30. Rosa (Parks)
  31. Ruby (Bridges)
  32. Sandra (Day O’Connor)
  33. Serena (Williams)
  34. Simone (De Beauvoir)
  35. Sonia (Sotomayor)
  36. Sojourner (Truth)
  37. Susan (B. Anthony)
  38. Sylvia (Plath)
  39. (Mother) Teresa
  40. Virginia (Woolf)

Best Historic Names for Boys

  1. Albert (Einstein)
  2. (Muhammad) Ali
  3. Booker (T. Washington)
  4. Cesar (Chavez)
  5. Claude (Monet)
  6. Desmond (Tutu)
  7. (Thomas) Edison
  8. Edgar (Allen Poe)
  9. Elie (Wiesel)
  10. (F. Scott) Fitzgerald
  11. Frederick (Douglas)
  12. George (Washington Carver)
  13. Harvey (Milk)
  14. Henri (Matisse)
  15. Homer
  16. Isaac (Newton)
  17. James (Joyce)
  18. J.D. (Salinger)
  19. Jesse (Jackson)
  20. Johann (Sebastian Bach)
  21. (John) Lewis
  22. Langston (Hughes)
  23. Leonardo (Da Vinci)
  24. Leo (Tolstoy)
  25. Malcolm (X)
  26. Mark (Twain)
  27. (Thurgood) Marshall
  28. Martin Luther King
  29. Myles (Horton)
  30. Neil (Armstrong)
  31. Nelson (Mandela)
  32. Oscar (Wilde)
  33. Ralph (Waldo Emerson)
  34. Robert (Frost)
  35. Stephen (Hawking)
  36. Theodore (Roosevelt)
  37. Walt (Whitman)
  38. Winston (Churchill)

Best Historic Gender-Neutral Names

  1. Alexander (Graham Bell)
  2. Babe (Ruth)
  3. (Bob) Dylan
  4. Charlie (Parker)
  5. Frances (Willard)
  6. Frank (Kameny)
  7. Franklin (Roosevelt)
  8. Franz (Kafka)
  9. Harper (Lee)
  10. Jackie (Robinson)
  11. James (Baldwin)
  12. Julian (Bond)
  13. Lenny (Bruce)
  14. Nellie (Stone Johnson)
  15. Ruth (Bader Ginsburg)
  16. Shel (Silversteen)
  17. Toni (Morrison)
  18. Whitney (Moore Young)