In memoriam: Alan Rayburn (1932-2019)

On the 19th of September 2019, Alan Rayburn, former president of the American Name Society and internationally recognized toponymist passed away at the age of 86. Alan is survived by his wife, Mary Teresa (née Fox); their three sons Kevin, Sean, and Garth; and their grandson Thomas. A funeral mass will be held to celebrate Alan’s life in Ottawa, Canada at St. Martin de Porres RC Church, Bells Corners, on Thursday, September 26, 2019 at 10:00 am.

The American Name Society would like to express its sincere condolences to the Rayburn family. Alan will always be remembered for his outstanding contributions to the scientific study of place names, his many decades of service to the American Name Society, and his extraordinary kindness to the ANS family. Friends and colleagues of the Alan Rayburn can share their condolences at

Toledo City Council approves airport name change

Toledo City Council on 17th September 2019 voted unanimously to officially change the name of Toledo Express Airport to the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport.

The name change is to honor Mr. Kranz, 86, who served as flight director for Apollo 11 and directed the successful rescue mission of the Apollo 13 crew. He was born in Toledo and graduated from Central Catholic High School.

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz first announced his intention to change the airport’s name to honor the NASA icon. Now all that’s left is for the Federal Aviation Administration to authorize the name change.

The Scottish Place-Name Society’s annual Autumn Day Conference, Arrochar, UK, November 2, 2019

The Society’s annual Autumn Day Conference will be held at the Three Villages Community Hall, Arrochar, on Saturday 2 November 2019.


The program is as follows:

Ronald Black: Place-names in the Dewar Manuscripts

Alan Cameron: The Place-names in the Poem Flory Loynachan

Sue Furness, Fiona Jackson and Elizabeth Carmichael: Arrochar Place-names and the Hidden Heritage Project

Peter Drummond: The Cobbler and his Neighbours: Some Mountain Names around Arrochar

Alison Grant: The Nicolaisen Archive

Bill Stephens: Sneaky Swans: Ealaidh in Place and Tradition

Bay Area city to name street after Barack Obama

The Milpitas City Council has approved to change the name of Dixon Landing Road to Barack Obama Boulevard. The council voted 3-2 in favor of moving forward with the name change. The length of the renamed stretch has yet to be determined.

This is the first city in Santa Clara County to have a Barack Obama Blvd. It could take up to a year to get the name change done.  Council members Bob Nunez and Anthony Phan suggested the name change.

“A lot of staff work. Research and fiscal analysis. Then staff will bring back everything to us for a vote and that’s the main event,” said Phan. The reaction in the community and on social media has been divided.

Tasmanian Aboriginal community prepared for war over place-name legislation

Premier Will Hodgman says new legislation to penalise those who use place names not formally recognised as Tasmanian nomenclature will not extend to Aboriginal place names. Greens leader Cassy O’Connor asked Mr Hodgman in Parliament how the proposed legislation to worked with the government’s pledge to reset its relationship with the Aboriginal community. She said Aboriginal names attached to places had been used for thousands of years. Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre chief executive Heather Sculthorpe said the community would resist the legislation and would risk prison time if necessary. “This bill is a direct attack on Aboriginal rights to use our own language and maintain our cultural heritage,” she said.

2nd Call for Submissions: Names, Naming, Identity, and the Law

Professor I. M. Nick, Editor-in-Chief of NAMES and Immediate Past President of the American Name Society, has issued a call for book chapter proposals on the topic of Names, Naming, Identity, and the Law. This call is for chapter proposals that critically address one of the following two sub-areas:

SUB-AREA ONE: the relationship between names, naming, the law and one of the following areas of identity: gender identification, sexual orientation, ethno-racial classification, family status, political affiliation, socio-economic attainment, religious denomination; nationality and citizenship, etc.
SUB-AREA TWO: the analytical methods used by private industry and/or governmental agencies to covertly or overtly extrapolate information about name-bearers’ potential identity using onomastic data.

The focus of this publication is placed upon nations where English is used as either a national or official language. However, chapter proposals that draw comparisons with other geolinguistic areas are also welcome. Proposals may explore any type of name (e.g. personal names, place names, trade names, brand names, etc.). The intended readership for this publication is made up of university students in advanced courses (upper undergrad/grad) as well as researchers in the disciplines of linguistics, language policy, law, history, sociology, government and politics. Despite the interdisciplinary appeal of this publication, this volume is primarily intended for students and scholars in language/linguistics. Researchers are encouraged to contact Dr. Nick with any questions regarding the suitability of envisioned themes. (

Proposal Submission Deadline: January 5, 2020

The official call for papers may be downloaded here.