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.

How interesting that at least one couple found a New Deal acronym other than NIRA tempting to use as a baby name. (Not sure why they felt the need to ask the government’s permission to use it, though.)

Roosevelt’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), established in 1933, was created out of Hoover’s Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), established in 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 appeared in the SSA’s baby name data, but the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) does include a couple of Feras 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.