National Records of Scotland

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How the files of summary records can be used

How the files of summary records can be used

This page gives some examples of the ways in which one can use the files of summary records in Comma Separated Value (CSV) format, which are available via the summary records page on this website.

In what follows, please note two points. First, most of the files only contain a record for a particular name for those years for which one or more babies were given that first forename. The ‘Boys’ Top 100’ and ‘Girls’ Top 100’ files only contain a record for a particular name for those years for which it was in the ‘Top 100’ first forenames for that sex. Therefore, years for which a particular name does not appear in the output may be ones for which no babies were given that first forename, or for which that name was not in the relevant Top 100. Second, 1974 was the first year for which the data were available at the time that this note was written.

To see how a particular name’s position in the Top 100 changes over the years

This involves two main steps.

First, use suitable software (e.g. Excel, SAS, SPSS) to read the file that contains the data of interest.

Second, use the software’s facilities (e.g. commands such as ‘Data Filter’, ‘SELECT IF’, or ‘WHERE’) to extract the records for the names and/or ranks of interest, and display or print the results.

For example, read the ‘Girls’ Top 100s’ file into (say) Excel.

Use (say) ‘Data Filter’ to select the records for which the ‘FirstForename’ is (say) ‘Julie’.

The start of the output from your software should show how popular (or not) Julie was in the first year for which both (a) the data are available and (b) Julie was in the Girls’ Top 100 names. At the time of writing, 1974 was the first year for which the data were available, so the start of any output which was produced then would show that Julie was the ninth most popular girls’ first forename in 1974, when it was given to 576 babies. The output would then show that Julie was ninth in 1975 and eighth in 1976, before starting to decline in popularity (for example, it was tenth in 1977, twelfth in 1978 and fifteenth in 1979). By 1990, Julie had fallen to joint sixty-fourth; 1994 was the last year in which Julie was in the girls’ Top 100, when it was ninety-second.

Repeating the process, but this time seeking records with (say) ‘Agnes’ in the ‘FirstForename’ would reveal that there are no records for ‘Agnes’, assuming that it was not in the Girls’ Top 100 names in any of the years for which data are available (that is certainly the case for 1974 onwards).

To produce shorter lists (e.g. Top Threes, Top Tens) for particular years

For example, read the ‘Boys’ Top 100s’ file into (say) Excel.

Use (say) 'Data Filter' to select the records for which the numerical value of 'rank' is less than or equal to 3.

The software will show the boys’ Top Three for the first year for which the data are available, then the Top Three for the next year, and so on, concluding with the Top Three for the latest year for which the full lists of names have been produced. Note that more than three names will be shown for a year if (say) two names are tied in third place.

Using the ‘all names’ files in similar ways

The files which contain records for all names (rather than just the ‘Top 100s’) can be used in a similar fashion. However, it must be remembered that they contain many more records than the ‘Top 100s’ files, and so might be more difficult for the software to handle.

In theory, for example, one could use the software to select all the records for a particular name, and it will show how many babies were given that first forename in every year, since the first year for which both (a) the data are available and (b) at least one baby was given that first forename. Two points should be noted. First, as mentioned earlier, the files do not contain a record for a name for any year for which no babies were given that first forename, so any years (from the first year for which data are available) which do not appear in the output are ones for which no babies were given that first forename. Second, the ‘all names’ files contain records for both boys and girls, and so two records may appear for some years if the name is one which has been given to both boys and girls (examples of this might be names like ‘Chris’ and ‘Evelyn’).

 

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