Name Change: Michael to Martin Luther

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr., was not born with the name “Martin”?

Martin Luther King, Sr., was originally named Michael King. When he welcomed his second child (and first son) in early 1929, the baby was named Michael as well.

Several years later, in 1934, Rev. Michael King — a pastor in Atlanta — traveled overseas to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting in Berlin. While there, he “witnessed the beginnings of Nazi Germany” under Germany’s new chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

King toured much of Germany, the country that is the birthplace of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, which led to a split with the Catholic Church.

When he returned to Atlanta, the senior King decided to change his name and his son’s from Michael to Martin Luther, after the German Protestant leader.

The name on MLK Jr.’s birth certificate wasn’t officially changed from “Michael” to “Martin Luther” until 1957, when he was 28.

Source: Clanton, Nancy. “Why Martin Luther King Jr.’s father changed their names.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 15 Jan. 2021.

Baby Name Story: Canberra

The Trans-Australian train (westbound, in 1938).
The Trans-Australian Train

We took a look at Canberra’s top baby names the other day, so here’s a quick story from 1927 about an Australian baby named Canberra:

Canberra is the name of the first baby born on the trans-Continental train. The mother was proceeding to Kalgoorlie from Cook for treatment.

The article didn’t include the parents’ names or the specific date of birth, but we do know that “£15 was collected among the passengers, and presented to the mother.”

(I wasn’t able to find this particular “Canberra” in the records, but I did find an earlier one: Andrew Canberra Brown, born in Tasmania in 1913.)

Source: “Baby Named Canberra.” Inverell Times [NSW] 27 May 1927: 5.
Image: The ‘Trans-Australian’ westbound by John Buckland

Baby Name Story: Griezmann Mbappé

Teodora Pacaje and baby Griezmann Mbappé Chambi Pacaje (Jan. 2022).
Teodora holding Griezmann Mbappé

The first baby born in the Chilean city of Copiapó in 2022 was a boy named Griezmann Mbappé in honor of French soccer players Antoine Griezmann (pronounced an-twahn gree-ez-man) and Kylian Mbappé (pronounced kee-lee-ahn em-bah-pay).

The baby was born at Copiapó Regional Hospital at around 9 pm on New Year’s Day.

Here’s how his mother, Teodora Pacaje, explained the name to local reporters: “We love football. I chose the first name and his dad gave him the name Mbappé.”

Ironically, the parents of the initial baby named Griezmann Mbappé — born in south-west France in late 2018 — were forced by a judge to rename him in nearly 2019. (They chose “Dany Noé.”)

Sources: Parents name baby after favourite footballers but people fear he will be bullied, Servicio Salud Atacama on Twitter, Griezmann: not just a poster boy, French couple barred from calling son Griezmann Mbappe after football heroes
Image: @SSaludAtacama

Baby Name Story: Egedah

In 1938, a woman identified as Mrs. Aaron Stricker gave birth to a baby girl while riding an Egged bus to the Beilinsohn Hospital near Tel Aviv.

She and her husband decided to name the baby Egedah (or Eggedah) in honor of the bus line.

The Egged Transportation Company, in turn, presented the baby girl with a free lifetime bus pass.

The name of the company, egged, is Hebrew for “union.”


Baby Name Story: Berlinda

Lancaster bombers during World War II (1944).
Lancaster bombers during WWII

In January of 1944, a Lancaster bomber carrying seven men went down in the “black, merciless North Sea” about 70 miles off the coast of Britain.

The plane, returning from a raid on Berlin, had run “into a bad flak area…their aircraft being repeatedly hit and the navigation instruments damaged.” (Flak refers to fire from an anti-aircraft gun.)

The men — representing England, Ireland, Canada and Australia — managed to salvage the plane’s emergency lifeboat, but even that was damaged:

The rubber dinghy began filling with water through the flak punctures, so the castaways took turns plunging their arms into the freezing water and sealing the holes with their fingers. Spray soon sopped their clothing, through which an icy wind cut like knives.

The men were adrift for 15 hours before being rescued.

Soon after, “one of them, a Londoner, discovered that his wife had given birth to a daughter about the same time that they were bombing Berlin, upon which they named the child Berlinda.”

Source: “Rescued from North Sea.” Advertiser [Adelaide, South Australia] 3 Feb. 1944: 6.

Image by RAF from Wikipedia