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Generational Names in the United States

July 2, 2019
By Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

I have always wondered how the different generations got their names in the United States. In doing research on this subject, I discovered the reasoning behind some of the generational names. First, it is important to understand the meaning of generations. Generations in the United States are social groups of people born around the same time who share similar cultural traits, values and preferences.

According to Matt Rosenberg, a writer for the website ThoughtCo, many people in the U.S. today identify themselves as Millennials, Xers, or Boomers. These generational names are a fairly recent cultural phenomenon and vary depending on the source.

According to most historians Gertrude Stein is considered to be the first to have given a name to a generation. Stein considered "The Lost Generation" to be those born at or around the turn of the century and bore the brunt of service during World War I.

I was born in 1964, the end of the Baby Boomer Era (1946 and 1964). Baby Boom was used to identify a massive increase in births following World War II and there are approximately 76 million Baby Boomers in the United States.

Traditionally, there were seven generations considered in the United States: 1871 to 1889 (New Worlders), 1890 to 1908 (Hard Timers), 1909 to 1928( Good Warriors), 1929 to 1945 (Lucky Few), 1946 to 1964 (Baby Boomers), 1965 to 1982 (Generation X), and 1983 to 2001 (New Boomers).

Primary generations have changed today. The Center for Generational Kinetics' considers there to be five primary generations today in the United States: Traditionalists or Silent Generation - 1945 and before, Baby Boomers - 1946 to 1964, Generation X 1965 to 1976, Millennials or Gen Y 1977 to 1995, and Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials 1996 to present.

I discovered by looking at a variety of references, a dramatic event is generally what defines the separation of generations. The end of the Millennial Generation and the start of Gen Z are closely tied to September 11, 2001. Members of Gen Z born in 1996 and after, cannot process the significance of 9/11 as say a person of the Baby Boomer Generation. For Gen Z members, 9/11 has always been a part of history for them. For the Baby Boomers, history was changed forever.

There is a lot of information out there that helps define the generations today and how the generations are divided. A good website is The Center for Generational Kinetics' at genhq.com.

 
 
 

 

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