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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So far we’ve talked about two babies named for newly formed towns — Salida and Nira — and today we have one more: Kelowna.
The Canadian town of Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada, was settled in the mid-1800s and incorporated in 1905. The name of the town means “grizzly bear” in the Okanagan language.
For several decades during the early 1900s, the residents of Kelowna’s Chinatown made up as much as 15% of the total population. But the birth rate in Chinatown was quite low, as most of the residents were men whose families remained in China due to Canada’s discriminatory Chinese head tax.
Chinatown’s first baby didn’t arrive until early 1906. Her name? Kelowna, after her Canadian birthplace.
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.
One 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:
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.
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.
When 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.