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Historic Baby Names of April: From Augustine to Truman

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By Denise K. Potter

The fourth month of the year is a pretty busy one. For starters, it’s Autism Awareness Month and National Poetry Month. All in just 30 days, April yields the observances of Passover and Easter, Arbor Day, baseball’s opening day, Earth Day, and we can’t forget April Fool’s Day. April 2nd is even National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. So before you chalk this month up as just a whole lot of rain, take a look at these twelve baby names inspired by the notable figures and historical happenings of April—some could even make a perfect choice for a springtime baby.

April – Still the most popular month name, up against sister spring months May and June, April is said to be derived from the Latin word Aprilis, from the verb apertus, meaning “to open.” An alternate derivation comes from the goddess Aphrodite, whose festival begins the month.

AndersenHans Christian Andersen, the creator of such fairy tale classics as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Princess and the Pea,” was born on April 2, 1805 in Odense, Denmark. The more common spelling Anderson has shot up on the popularity charts recently, in large part due to the fame of newsman Anderson Cooper.  But, believe it or not, Anderson was even more popular in the year 1880, sitting at #252, five years after Hans Christian’s death.

Augustine – St. Augustine, the picturesque city in Northeast Florida, was founded by explorer Juan Ponce De Leon and claimed for the Spanish crown in April of 1513. It is now known as the oldest city in the continental U.S.. The English variation of Augustus, which is Latin meaning “great, magnificent,” Augustine also bears the nickname Gus, making it a viable choice.

BookerApril commemorates the birth and life of African American educator Booker T. Washington, who was born a slave in 1856 and died a Civil Rights pioneer in 1915. This English occupational surname meaning “scribe” can easily pay tribute to the leader of the African American community, and makes a very cool choice for writers, reformers, and R & B fans.

DaisyApril’s birth flower is the daisy (Bellis perennis) and the sweet pea. Though it often draws up images of the fresh, wholesome flower that opens its petals at daybreak, Daisy was originally a diminutive of the name Margaret. Daisy also has a lot of literary and pop-culture appeal— as Daisy Buchanan, the object of love in The Great Gatsby, to the namesake in the film Driving Miss Daisy, to name a few.

Dorothea – The Greek name meaning “gift of god” has been off the charts since 1970, but its flowing and romantic Victorian-sound makes it more than qualified for a revival. One historical bearer born in April was Dorothea Dix, the social reformer and Civil War nurse who lobbied the U.S. Congress to aid the mentally ill.

Hilaria—The practical jokes and celebrations of April first, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day, have Roman antecedents; The festival of Hilaria, held March  25th, celebrated the vernal equinox and Cybele, the mother goddess. Today, Hilaria is a female name meaning “cheerful,” (and associated most recently with Hilaria Thomas Baldwin, Mallorca-born wife of Alec)– though most Americans stick to Hilary.

Joseph—Two prominent Josephs appear in the history of April: St. Joseph, Missouri is the city where the first Pony Express service departed from in April of 1860. Joseph Pulitzer was born in Hungary in 1847, before beginning his career in publishing and journalism, and eventually becoming the namesake for the honorable Pulitzer Prize award for writers and composerers.

Juliet—The month of April denotes both the birth and death of William Shakespeare, who in the fifteenth and sixteen centuries produced more than 38 plays and 154 sonnets, which have now been translated to every major language and performed more than those of any other playwright. Among the most famed of his plays is  Romeo and Juliet, in which it was Shakespeare’s heroine who uttered the immortal question “What’s in a name?”

Monroe—The fifth president of the United States, and the last of the Founding Fathers, was James Monroe, born in April of 1758. He is probably best remembered for the Monroe Doctrine, which protected North and South America from European colonization in the nineteenth century. Though it started as a surname for boys, Monroe  has a lot more muscle for girls; Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon recently chose it for their daughter, to honor Marilyn.

OliverOliver Pollock, a merchant and financier during the Revolutionary War, was credited with creating the US dollar sign in April 1778. Now a Top 100 name in the US, energetic and good-natured Oliver is ranked in the top spot in England, after having experienced a steady drop in the seventeenth century era of Oliver Cromwell.

Truman—The thirty-third president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, signed the European Recovery Program in April 1948. The program, which was intended to stop communism and restore the post-WWII economy, delivered 12 billion dollars to Western European nations. Used as a boy’s name, Truman means “loyal one” and is also associated with the writer Truman Capote.

What’s your favorite April history name?

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