Sharing my Name Generator files

I’m relatively new to this forum, so I’ll make the standard apology that I hope I’ve stumbled on the right forum for this post. I’ve been building some additional databases for the name generator, largely focusing on decade-specific American names (let’s face it, the American option in the First Name generator is…silly to say the least), historic American names, and popular names from specific American ethnic groups. I’ve pulled together lists from various public domain sources online, credited on the download page.

I’ve got files for both Windows and Mac name generator.

Currently available databases:

Last Names:

  • Virginia First Families (~280)
  • US War of 1812 (~1500)
  • Civil War Generals (~1000)
  • Civil War Andersonville Records (7352)
  • 2010 US Census popular Latino last names (~1000)
  • 2010 US Census popular Asian-American last names (~1000)
  • 2010 US Census popular last names, all ethnic groups (~19000)
  • 1296 English last names (~1250)
  • 1642 English last names (~1300)

First Names (No name meanings):

  • US War of 1812 (~330, male only)
  • US 1850 Census (732 male, 663 female)
  • Civil War Generals (~350, male only, includes popular compound names)
  • Civil War Andersonville Records (1257 male only)
  • 1880 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1890 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1900 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1910 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1920 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1930 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1940 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1950 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1960 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1970 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1980 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1990 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 2000 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 2010 US Popular names (1000 male, 1000 female)
  • 1200s English (471 male, 206 female)
  • 1379 English (110 male, 69 female)
  • Medieval Russian (~19000 male, ~1100 female)
  • Biblical (804 male, 359 female)

The 1880-2010 names are also available as one massive 28,000 name database, a 14,000 name expansion pack for those who previously downloaded it, and a 14,000 name “rare” list. Any list with 10,000+ names take a noticeable amount of time to import, so be please be patient with them.

I have not curated any of the lists. That does mean that “Smith” shows up on both the Latino and Asian-American lists, because the name is extremely popular, but I didn’t want to start walking down the road of deciding what names did and didn’t sound “Latino enough”.

Oh, and because this is the tips thread, my own tip for using these files: when generating a character name using the decade lists, remember that they are based on births, so use the list closest to when the character was born, not closest to when the book is set.

Added four new lists, two first names and two last names, based on some old (1200-1642) English records I found online.

Many thanks for this labor of love.

These lists almost make me want to write a novel set in one of these periods, just so I could use some of the names. If Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings could begin with the thought of a hobbit living in a hole, what might these lists inspire?

They’re oddly fun to put together. Not the first time I’ve gotten a program on my computer and obsessed about creating seeding files for a built in randomizer. Last time it was coding files to create random maps within a RTS game I was playing. This started with wanting a time period appropriate name list for a steampunk novel I’m working on in a post American Civil War setting. Was looking for a list of good Virginia last names, and just went from there.

And yeah, some great names come up with the 1200 first names and 1296 last names, especially with “Bastard” hiding in the latter.

I’ve got the Biblical first names list put together, though I suspect I’ll add to it in the future. It skews male heavy by more than 2-to-1, but that bespeaks the source material (much like the Civil War Generals name list skewed entirely male, odd that). Trying to figure out what to do next, cause I’m getting hooked on this whole list making thing. Getting harder to find new ideas that might be useful, rather than just making lists for the purpose of making list.

Have any ideas how to turn the Dictionary of Period Russian Names at into a name generator list without too many steps? I’ve been pondering the best approach to this. It’s an unwieldy, extremely large list that for some reason was put together without regard to us Scriveners. :slight_smile:


I’ve got a few ideas. First step is going to be IE. I know it’s become the 3rd or 4th place browser, but it’s also the only one (I’m aware of) that will copy a table into Word or Excel as a table. Let me play around, I’ve got a few ideas on how find-and-replace might make this work…

I’ve figured out how to do it through a series of about 10-20 find-and-replace commands in Word. Which sounds tedious, but is better than trying to hand jam the whole thing. It’ll be lacking in name meanings, though. I’ve got the steps worked out, I don’t quite have time to run through them yet, but could probably this weekend (I’m not trying to be the martyr, but it’ll probably take less time for me to run the steps than to try and explain the steps, there’s a lot of weird fiddly steps). If I could just get Word to select every bolded character, I could do it in about 4 steps, but it’s refusing to do so correctly.

Put that Russian file up, and some built from troop rosters from the War of 1812. The latter has the problem of being male-only first names. Hard finding female name lists from the era, since I’m looking for something that is freely usable and specifies genders. Gender specificity is important, because some names are no longer used, and some have migrated genders, so I can’t just guess them all.

You have gone above and beyond with the Russian names. Dang it, now I have to finish that novel!


And it better have a bloody hell of a lot of characters in it!

Not having enough characters is its primary problem right now. There’s actually a plot, and character arcs for the main characters, and all that…just that the world is no where near populated with all the additional people. Lots of “INSERT NAME HERE” and places where other characters need to be.


Um. Could you explain how to use your name files with Scrivener?

Slowly and step by step, please. I are an idiot. :blush:

I can explain for Windows, if you’re using Scrivener for Mac hopefully someone else can peep up.

First, since you’ve said slowly:

Download the file you want by right clicking on it, and selecting “Save as…” Make sure you put the file somewhere you’ll remember on your hard drive.

Once it’s downloaded, in Scrivener:

Click Tools
Click Writing Tools
Click Name Generator

You’ll see three tabs across the top of the generator. Click “Import”

You’ll need to know whether it’s a first name or last name file you’re importing. Each should be labelled on my site, let me know if there’s any question about any file.

Click the “Browse…” button next to either Last Names or First Names, whichever is appropriate.
Use the windows explorer that opens to go to the folder you saved the files in.
Select the desired file.
Click Open

This will populate the file name into the text box.
Click “Import File”
Wait. Short files take a few seconds, long files a few minutes.

Repeat at the “Browse…” step for each additional file.

The Social Security Administration lists I used for the US Names by decades go to 1000 and not 500. I’m not sure why I cut it off at 500, so I’ve now expanded each list to 1000 male, 1000 female names. I’ve also created an “expansion pack” that has names 501-1000 for those who downloaded the old lists, so you’ve only got another 14k name list to import rather than an 28k name list.

There’s also a “rare” list that includes all the same names as the expansion pack, but will appear in the name generator as “US 1880 Rare” etc. Because sometimes I want a slightly rarer name and don’t want to see James and Mary suggested.

Thank you! Yes, I’m on Windows, and that was beautifully clear. :slight_smile:

It may sound silly, but coming up with names stops me dead while writing, so this is a great help.

It occurs to me, this tool really doesn’t have to be just for people names, does it?

I often write fantasy, and coming up with names for places and spells and magic objects or whatever are also painfully slow for me. There’s no reason I couldn’t use some of the web-generators to make up lists, and then I could import those, too, right?

This is not silly at all. This is one of my biggest issues too–I end up not making enough secondary characters to fill my world because then I’d have to name them.

And it absolutely doesn’t have to be just for people names, though going into it you should make sure you label the category in a way that reminds you what it is for, and choose what works best (probably a Last Name format) for what output you want.


Considering all these lists started when I was working on character sketches for a new novel and thought “I want to give some characters names with specific ties to Virginia,” no, I don’t find is silly at all.

Three new lists today, all focused on mid-19th Century America. Finally have some good female names thanks to the 1850 census, and a much longer list of names from the Civil War thanks to a rather morbid source, the records of the infamous Andersonville Prison. Latter still male only. Hard finding a concentrate list of either women’s names, or names of both genders, from the Civil War, but that 1850s census list should help with that.

Hi! What a great service! However, when I download the files to my (Mac), Scrivener doesn’t recognize them as files it can import.

What format do they need to be in for Scrivener to import them?

The only two choices I get when I go to “Save As” are “Web Archive” and “Page Source”. Do I need to copy and paste them into a Word-type doc or a CSV?

Thanks for your help.


If you go to DL Thurston’s web page, then Control-Click on a link to a name list, you will get a contextual menu asking what you want to do. Download the Linked File is probably the best option (it might be a little different if you’re not using Safari). Then if you read the Scrivener manual (hint, hint!) you will find it tells you how to use the Edit > Writing Tools menu item to add a new list of names to the Name Generator. It’s a little hidden away. Hence the need to read the manual!

Cheers, Martin.