Ben Whitehurst’s 1937 book Dear Mr. President is made up of funny letters “salvaged from the White House mail.” Here’s one of those letters:
Dear President Roosevelt:
Next month wife is getting a baby. The relief office says it is alright and is going to pay for it. Wife and I think it would be nice if we called the baby FERA, the name of your relief outfit. If Congress has no protest and its name is alright with you please let me know by letter.
First of all, I have no idea where/how this couple indended to “get” their baby, or whether the government did indeed “pay for it.” The whole arrangement sounds fairly illegal to me, but hey, what do I know.
Roosevelt’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), est. 1933, was created out of Hoover’s Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), est. 1932. But it didn’t last long — FERA was replaced by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in late 1935.
Were any babies named Fera after the FERA? I don’t know for sure. The name has never made the SSA’s baby name list, but the SSDI does include one Fera (so far) born within that 1933-1935 window, so it’s a possibility.
- Van Gelder, Robert. “Books of the Times; The President’s Mail.” New York Times 5 Aug. 1937: 21.
- Whitehurst, Ben. Dear Mr. President. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1937.