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156 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 always valuable to look to the past when planning for the future: Historic baby names encapsulate that forward-looking awareness of the people who have us forward. In short, history can tell us a lot — including which names will sound good for years to come. And historic baby names aren’t just timeless — they’re rich with meaning.

The historic 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.

History-Inspired Names for Girls

  1. Alexandria (AOC)
  2. Amelia (Earhart)
  3. Anne (Frank)
  4. Aretha (Franklin)
  5. Audrey (Hepburn)
  6. (Jane) Austen
  7. Bessie (Smith)
  8. Betsy (R0ss)
  9. Betty (Friedan)
  10. Billie (Holiday)
  11. Carson (McCullers)
  12. Catherine (Middleton)
  13. Christa (McAuliffe)
  14. Coretta (Scott King)
  15. Diana (Princess of Wales)
  16. Diane (Arbus)
  17. Dorothea (Lange)
  18. Dorothy (Irene Height)
  19. Eleanor (Roosevelt)
  20. Emily (Dickinson)
  21. (Queen) Elizabeth
  22. Ella (Fitzgerald)
  23. Florence (Nightingale)
  24. Frida (Kahlo)
  25. Georgia (O’Keeffe)
  26. (Alex) Haley
  27. Harriet (Tubman)
  28. Helen (Keller)
  29. Ida (B. Wells)
  30. Jacqueline (Kennedy Onassis)
  31. Jane (Goodall)
  32. Joan (of Arc)
  33. (James) Joyce
  34. (John F.) Kennedy
  35. Julia (Morgan)
  36. Kamala (Harris)
  37. Lashana (Lynch)
  38. Lola (Hendricks)
  39. Louise (Bourgeois)
  40. Lucretia (Mott)
  41. Madeleine (Albright)
  42. Malala (Yousafzai)
  43. Marie (Curie)
  44. Marsha (P. Johnson)
  45. Maya (Angelou)
  46. Michelle (Obama)
  47. Nellie (Bly)
  48. Nikola (Tesla)
  49. Rosa (Parks)
  50. Ruby (Bridges)
  51. Sandra (Day O’Connor)
  52. (Julia) Scarlett (Elizabeth Louis-Dreyfus Hall)
  53. Serena (Williams)
  54. Simone (De Beauvoir)
  55. Sonia (Sotomayor)
  56. Sojourner (Truth)
  57. Susan (B. Anthony)
  58. Sylvia (Plath)
  59. (Mother) Teresa
  60. Virginia (Woolf)
  61. Venus (Williams)
  62. Vivian (Maier)
  63. Willa (Cather)

History-Inspired Names for Boys

  1. Albert (Einstein)
  2. (Muhammad) Ali
  3. Ansel (Adams)
  4. Booker (T. Washington)
  5. Cesar (Chavez)
  6. Claude (Monet)
  7. (Cassius) Clay
  8. (Daniel) Craig
  9. Cormac (McCarthy)
  10. (Miles) Davis
  11. Desmond (Tutu)
  12. Diego (Rivera)
  13. (Thomas) Edison
  14. Edgar (Allen Poe)
  15. Elie (Wiesel)
  16. Ernest (Hemingway)
  17. (F. Scott) Fitzgerald
  18. Francis (Bacon)
  19. Frederick (Douglass)
  20. Fyodor (Dostoevsky)
  21. George (Washington Carver)
  22. Geronimo
  23. Harry (Belafonte)
  24. Harvey (Milk)
  25. Henri (Matisse)
  26. Homer
  27. Isaac (Newton)
  28. Jacob (Lawrence)
  29. James (Joyce)
  30. J.D. (Salinger)
  31. Jesse (Jackson)
  32. Johann (Sebastian Bach)
  33. (John) Lewis
  34. Johnny (Cash)
  35. Langston (Hughes)
  36. (John) Lennon
  37. Leonardo (Da Vinci)
  38. Leo (Tolstoy)
  39. Louis (Armstrong)
  40. Malcolm (X)
  41. Mark (Twain)
  42. Marlon (Brando)
  43. (Thurgood) Marshall
  44. Martin Luther King
  45. Merle (Haggard)
  46. (Arthur) Miller
  47. Myles (Horton)
  48. Neil (Armstrong)
  49. Nelson (Mandela)
  50. (Nicolaus) Copernicus
  51. Oscar (Wilde)
  52. Pablo (Picaso)
  53. Paul (McCartney)
  54. Ralph (Waldo Emerson)
  55. Rafael (Nadal)
  56. Robert (Frost)
  57. Samuel (Beckett)
  58. Sean (Connery)
  59. Stephen (Hawking)
  60. (Henry David) Thoreau
  61. Theodore (Roosevelt)
  62. Walt (Whitman)
  63. Winston (Churchill)

Best Historic Gender-Neutral Names

  1. Alexander (Graham Bell)
  2. Babe (Ruth)
  3. (Lady) Bird (Johnson)
  4. (John) Brown
  5. (David) Bowie
  6. (Bob) Dylan
  7. Charlie (Parker)
  8. (James) Dean
  9. Elon (Musk)
  10. (Ralph Waldo) Emerson
  11. Frances (Willard)
  12. Frank (Kameny)
  13. Franklin (Roosevelt)
  14. Franz (Kafka)
  15. Harper (Lee)
  16. Henri (Cartier-Bresson)
  17. (Whitney) Houston
  18. Jackie (Robinson)
  19. James (Baldwin)
  20. Jean-Michel (Basquiat)
  21. Julian (Bond)
  22. Lenny (Bruce)
  23. (Jean-) Michel (Basquiat)
  24. Nellie (Stone Johnson)
  25. Ru (RuPaul)
  26. (Ruth) Bader (Ginsburg)
  27. Shel (Silverstein)
  28. Teddy (Roosevelt)
  29. Toni (Morrison)
  30. Whitney (Moore Young)