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161 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 cool and trendy next or which will still sound good when their baby is all grown up. It’s always worthwhile to look to the past when planning for the future: Historic baby names encapsulate that forward-looking awareness. 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 today’s children benefit from to this day. There’s no better way to infuse your kid’s name with meaning!

History-Inspired Names for Girls

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

History-Inspired Names for Boys

  1. Albert (Einstein)
  2. (Muhammad) Ali
  3. Ansel (Adams)
  4. Booker (T. Washington)
  5. Cesar (Chavez)
  6. Charles (Darwin)
  7. Claude (Monet)
  8. (Cassius) Clay
  9. (Daniel) Craig
  10. Cormac (McCarthy)
  11. (Miles) Davis
  12. Desmond (Tutu)
  13. Diego (Rivera)
  14. (Thomas) Edison
  15. Edgar (Allen Poe)
  16. Elie (Wiesel)
  17. Ernest (Hemingway)
  18. (F. Scott) Fitzgerald
  19. Francis (Bacon)
  20. Frederick (Douglass)
  21. Fyodor (Dostoevsky)
  22. George (Washington Carver)
  23. Geronimo
  24. Harry (Belafonte)
  25. Harvey (Milk)
  26. Henri (Matisse)
  27. Homer
  28. Isaac (Newton)
  29. Jacob (Lawrence)
  30. James (Joyce)
  31. J.D. (Salinger)
  32. Jesse (Jackson)
  33. Johann (Sebastian Bach)
  34. (John) Lewis
  35. Johnny (Cash)
  36. Langston (Hughes)
  37. (John) Lennon
  38. Leonardo (Da Vinci)
  39. Leo (Tolstoy)
  40. Louis (Armstrong)
  41. Malcolm (X)
  42. Mark (Twain)
  43. Marlon (Brando)
  44. (Thurgood) Marshall
  45. Martin Luther King
  46. Merle (Haggard)
  47. (Arthur) Miller
  48. Myles (Horton)
  49. Neil (Armstrong)
  50. Nelson (Mandela)
  51. (Nicolaus) Copernicus
  52. Oscar (Wilde)
  53. Pablo (Picasso)
  54. Paul (McCartney)
  55. Ralph (Waldo Emerson)
  56. Rafael (Nadal)
  57. Robert (Frost)
  58. Samuel (Beckett)
  59. Sean (Connery)
  60. Stephen (Hawking)
  61. (Henry David) Thoreau
  62. Theodore (Roosevelt)
  63. Walt (Whitman)
  64. 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)