How popular is the baby name Nira in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Nira and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Nira.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Nira

Number of Babies Named Nira

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Nira

Did You Know About the Babies Named Depression?

In the U.S., the Great Depression started in 1929 and lasted through most of the 1930s.

What was it like to live during the Depression?

Massive unemployment had a profound social and emotional impact upon American workers and their families. […] The great population movement of the thirties was transiency the worker adrift in a sea of unemployment. People, especially the young, girls as well as boys, took to the road because they could no longer bear to stay home. In the middle of the decade when the dust blew in the Great Plains, wiping out their farms, whole families of Okies, Arkies, and Mizoos migrated west, especially to California. The migrants often made their way to the junk-pile Hoovervilles with their Prosperity Roads, Hard Times Avenues, and Easy Streets. The destitute often lost their homes or farms because they were unable to make payments on mortgages.

depressionOne fascinating fact I discovered not long ago is that a small number of babies born during the Great Depression were actually named Depression.

At least three of these babies made the news:

  • In the New York Times: Norma Depression Jacobs, a baby girl born to Joseph and Sally Jacobs of New York in early 1932.
  • In the Reading Eagle: Viola Depression Davis, a baby girl born in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in 1932.
  • In the New York Times: Franklin Depression Pasquale, a baby boy born in New York in 1933. (Franklin was for President Roosevelt, whose presidency began in March of 1933 — “the worst month for joblessness in the history of the United States.”)

And here are more baby Depressions I tracked down using other sources:

  • Robert Depression Cann, born in Oklahoma on October 22, 1931.
  • Joyce Depression Bradford, born in Texas on December 5, 1931.
  • Robert Depression Arnold, born in California on February 2, 1932.
  • Helen Depression Carr, born in Indiana on February 29, 1932.
  • Hoover Depression Norman, born in Texas on June 14, 1932. (Hoover was in office from 1929 to 1933.)
  • Depression Heaton, born Ohio on June 24, 1932. (Born and died the same day, sadly.)
  • William Depression Ellerby, born in North Carolina on August 5, 1932.
  • Depression Brockington, born on October 21, 1932.
  • Depression Ivy, born in Texas on May 28, 1934.
  • Percy Depression Giles, born in West Virginia circa 1934.
  • Depression Austin, born in North Carolina circa 1934.
  • Depression Red, born in Georgia circa 1934. (The sister born right after her was named “Beauty.” Quite the disparity.)
  • Depression Bennett, born in Alabama on February 10, 1938.

I also found two baby Depressions born in the 1870s, during an earlier period of economic recession now called the Long Depression.


  • “Baby Will Know of Depression; In Fact, It’s Her Middle Name.” New York Times 19 Jan. 1932.
  • Bernstein, Irving. “Americans in Depression and War.” The U.S. Department of Labor Bicentennial History of The American Worker, Ed. Richard B. Morris. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976.
  • “Child, Named for President, Called Franklin Depression.” New York Times 3 May 1933.
  • “Parents Name Baby Viola Depression.” Reading Eagle 26 Oct. 1932: 9.

[Check out these other names from the early-to-mid 1930s: Edwarda, Joretta, Karina, Nira, Norita, Normandie, Rockne, Sharlie]

Another New Deal-Inspired Baby Name?

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.

I do find it interesting, though, that at least one couple found a New Deal acronym other than NIRA tempting to use as a baby name.

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.

Baby Named Nira after Iowa Town

While doing research for the NIRA post, I discovered that there’s a town in Iowa called Nira.

The town wasn’t named in 1933 after the legislation. It was named decades before, by Col. W. B. Bell, an early postmaster of Iowa’s Washington County. He named the town after his wife, Nira.

What I found especially interesting was that the town of Nira, Iowa — much like the town of Salida, Colorado — held a baby name contest in its early days. (In the 1880s, I’m guessing.)

Col. Bell watched the growth of the village named for his wife, Nira, and offered a gold dollar to the first baby girl born in the town who was named Nira.

The gold dollar eventually was awarded Nira Moffitt, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Moffitt. Her present location is unknown.

I wonder how many other U.S. towns held similar contests.

Source: “Nira Enjoys New Boom.” Telegraph-Herald 17 Aug. 1933: 1+.

EDIT: I’ve found Nira Moffitt on the 1900 census! She was born in June of 1880, to George and Anna Moffitt, and had a big sister named Lottie.

How Were the Philadelphia Eagles Named?

NRA posterWhen I wrote about the name Nira yesterday, I was sure to include an NRA poster featuring the Blue Eagle emblem.


So I could post this follow-up, of course. :)

I’ve discovered two names that were inspired by that Blue Eagle, if you can believe it.

The first is a personal name. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Knapinski of Milwaukee had a baby boy on September 20, 1933. They named him Franklin Delano Blue Eagle Knapinski after both the president and the Blue Eagle.

The second is a (very familiar!) sports name. A National Football League team was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1933 out of the ashes of the Frankford Yellow Jackets (1899-1931). The new team was named the Eagles after the NRA emblem.


  • Bowen, Les. Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete Illustrated History. Minneapolis: MVP Books, 2011.
  • “Franklin Blue Eagle, Proud Infant’s Name.” Milwaukee Journal 21 Sep. 1933: 11.

Why Were So Many Baby Girls Named “Nira” in 1933?

The Great Depression began in late 1929. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt replaced Herbert Hoover as U.S. President in early 1933, he got to work on the New Deal, which was intended to bring immediate economic relief.

Part of the New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which “sanctioned, supported, and in some cases, enforced an alliance of industries.” It was enacted on June 16, 1933.

Soon after, Roosevelt created the corresponding National Recovery Administration (NRA), which was “empowered to make voluntary agreements dealing with hours of work, rates of pay, and the fixing of prices.” Participating businesses were encouraged to display the NRA emblem, the Blue Eagle:

NRA poster

At first, the public was excited by the NIRA and the NRA. And this excitement spilled over onto birth certificates.

According to Social Security Administration data, more than 200 baby girls were named Nira in 1933. This was enough to make Nira the 463rd most popular baby girl name in the nation that year.

  • 1937: unlisted
  • 1936: 9 baby girls named Nira
  • 1935: 12 baby girls named Nira
  • 1934: 38 baby girls named Nira
  • 1933: 201 baby girls and 6 baby boys named Nira
  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: 8 baby girls named Nira
  • 1930: unlisted

[Of course, those raw numbers aren’t quite right. The SSA website reminds us that “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card,” so their names are not included in the data. And the SSDI doesn’t help in this case, as many people born in 1933 are still living. It lists only 63 Niras born in 1933. Notably, though, all but two were born in mid-June or later.]

Newspapers heralded the births of several of these 1933 Niras, including:

  • Nira Collins, born on July 25th to Mr. and Mrs. Christopher J. Collins of Philadelphia. The father, unemployed for ten months, found work two weeks before she was born.
  • Nira Davis, born on August 30th to Mrs. Geraldine Davis of Newburgh, New York.
  • Nira Lavallee, born on September 1st to Mr. and Mrs. George E. Lavallee of Marlborough, Massachusetts. Her father “returned to work after a lengthy period of unemployment soon after her birth.”
  • Nira Coelho, born on September 25th to Mr. and Mrs. Pedro Coelho of Los Angeles. “The parents are ardent believers in the President’s recovery program.”

One reporter cautioned that, while Nira was “a pretty name,” parents should “take into account the fact that everyone who keeps posted on current national history will know Nira was born in 1933. Which might be embarrassing 25 or 30 years hence.”

The flood of baby Niras prompted at least one person to write to the editor of the New York Times and ask if Washington had offered an “official pronunciation of the name” yet.

But the popular support didn’t last long. The NIRA and the NRA were widely criticized, and ended up doing little to speed up economic recovery. (We can get a feel for how quickly the excitement dried up by looking at the downward trajectory of those SSA numbers: 201, 38, 12.)

The NIRA had been set to expire in June of 1935, but was nullified even earlier when the Supreme Court unanimously declared the NIRA unconstitutional in May of 1935.


Follow-up posts: Blue Eagle, Nira (Iowa), Fera.

One-Hit Wonder Baby Names from the 1930s

Here’s the next installment of one-hit wonders. The following baby names cracked the top 1,000 only once–all during the 1930s:

Girl Names

  • Belia – ranked 962nd in 1931
  • Charlsie – ranked 951st in 1930
  • Darlyne – ranked 976th in 1935
  • Dotty – ranked 988th in 1939
  • Helaine – ranked 872nd in 1938
  • Jonell – ranked 955th in 1937
  • Karel – ranked 842nd in 1939
  • Larae – ranked 984th in 1936
  • Marcelina – ranked 945th in 1934
  • Monna – ranked 943rd in 1933
  • Nira – ranked 463rd in 1933 – influence: Nira, the National Industrial Recovery Act
  • Noreta – ranked 976th in 1937 – variant of Norita
  • Noretta – ranked 860th in 1937 – variant of Norita
  • Shelvie – ranked 876th in 1937 – variant of Shelby
  • Shirleyann – ranked 867th in 1935
  • Thomasina – ranked 970th in 1932
  • Vernetta – ranked 982nd in 1935

Boy Names

  • Darl – ranked 997th in 1931
  • Darwyn – ranked 743rd in 1935
  • Delwin – ranked 970th in 1935
  • Derl – ranked 875th in 1930
  • Harlon – ranked 946th in 1939
  • Marland – ranked 840th in 1934
  • Orlin – ranked 944th in 1932
  • Ronal – ranked 780th in 1939

All one-hit wonder lists: 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s.