Baby Name Voyager is a fascinating data visualization tool that shows you the popularity of specific names during the last thirteen decades. You just type in a name, and an interactive chart appears seconds later. It’s really pretty interesting.

But that’s not really why I’m writing about it. Even better, you click on a name and you’re given information about it, and offered the opportunity to write about it. Now, for students, this is pretty high-interest stuff — learn how popular your name has been over the past 130 years, learn about its historical roots, and write about your personal experience with it as your name.

There are some caveats, though. It only shows the most popular 1000 names in a decade, and it appears (though I can’t be sure) to show only names in the United States. It seems to have a fairly large number of Latino names, but there are very few Asian ones. So it’s problematic for teachers in a school like mine (one-third Southeast Asian) to use the site.

Nevertheless, I’m adding it to The Best Places Where Students Can Write For An “Authentic Audience.”

I learned about this site through a very interesting post on the History Of Data Visualization. And I learned about that piece from Flowing Data.