Amelia Mary Earhart, daughter of Samuel "Edwin" Stanton Earhart (March 28, 1867) and Amelia "Amy" Otis Earhart (1869–1962), was born in Atchison, Kansas, in the home of her maternal grandfather, Alfred Gideon Otis (1827–1912), a former federal judge, president of the Atchison Savings Bank and a leading citizen in Atchison. This was the second child in the marriage as an infant was stillborn in August 1896. Alfred Otis had not initially favored the marriage and was not satisfied with Edwin's progress as a lawyer.
Amelia was named, according to family custom, after her two grandmothers (Amelia Josephine Harres and Mary Wells Patton). From an early age Amelia, nicknamed "Meeley" (sometimes "Millie") was the ringleader while younger sister (two years her junior), Grace Muriel Earhart (1899–1998), nicknamed "Pidge," acted the dutiful follower. Both girls continued to answer to their childhood nicknames well into adulthood. Their upbringing was unconventional since Amy Earhart did not believe in molding her children into "nice little girls." Meanwhile their maternal grandmother disapproved of the "bloomers" worn by Amy's children and although Amelia liked the freedom they provided, she was aware other girls in the neighborhood did not wear them.