Where did the baby name Derna come from in 1912?

Advertisement for the movie "The Heroine from Derna" (1912).
The Heroine from Derna” movie ad

The name Derna debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1912:

  • 1914: 6 baby girls named Derna
  • 1913: 5 baby girls named Derna
  • 1912: 10 baby girls named Derna [debut & peak usage]
  • 1911: unlisted
  • 1910: unlisted

The reason could be either (or both) of two related things that drew attention to the African place-name Derna that year.

The first was the single-day Battle of Derna on March 3, 1912 (110 years ago today). The battle was part of the Italo-Turkish War and it took place near Derna, a port city in northeastern Libya.

The second was the Italian silent film The Heroine from Derna (originally L’eroica fanciulla di Derna), a drama set against the backdrop of the battle. It was released in the U.S. in June.

The modern city of Derna was founded by Islamic refugees from Al-Andalus during the late 15th century. (The Iberian Peninsula was being re-conquered by European Christians at that time.) Originally, the site was an Ancient Greek colony called Darnis or Darne.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Derna?

Source: Ahmida, Ali Abdullatif. The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization, and Resistance. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009.
Image: Advertisement in the June 15, 1912, issue of The Moving Picture World

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