Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America's past. These stories are about Americans - people just like you - who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you. Kate Kelly
  • Children Teddy Roosevelt Admired

    Teddy Roosevelt had his own sons and daughters whom he loved deeply, but two children, Louis (called Bud) and Temple Abernathy, became his friends while he was in the White House. Roosevelt admired Bud and Temple for living the...

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  • Former Newsboys of Detroit Doing Good

    The Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund of Detroit has existed since 1914 as a way to assure that children not be forgotten at Christmas time. More than a century later, the Fund remains a well-respected civic institution. In addition to...

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  • Bugle Calls and the Origin of TAPS

    Communication on a military battlefield or in camp is vital, but before technological advances, spreading information and commands was challenging. Messengers were used to communicate among commanders, but the difficulty was great when informing large groups of men.

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  • Women Answered Call in World War I

    In World War I telephone operators were needed in Europe. General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I, quickly saw that women—American women–would be better at telephone work than the men. The Signal...

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  • Asian Indians Fight for U.S. in World War I

    Nearly a quarter of the men who fought for America in World War I were foreign born, including many Asian Indians who arrived in the U.S. seeking education, a better life, and freedom from British domination of India. It...

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  • Latino Family Opened Door to School Integration in 1940s

    The school desegregation case of Mendez v. Westminster (1947) prepared the way for the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, yet few people have heard of it. The case concerned an incident in 1943 when a woman took...

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  • President H.W. Bush’s Service Dog

    The Bush family has always had dogs and loved them with great devotion. Dogs have always seen them through challenging times. President George H.W. Bush experienced the loss of a lifetime when his wife Barbara died in April 2018....

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  • How Jumbo Joined the Circus

    Jumbo the elephant was identified as a possible “get” for the Barnum & Bailey circus in 1882 by a circus scout who found the elephant at the London Zoo. After learning of the elephant, James Bailey sent the man...

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  • Sculptor of Rushmore Gutzon Borglum

    Mount Rushmore towers commandingly over the Black Hills of South Dakota, beckoning visitors to come closer to see in detail the four faces of the U.S. presidents carved into the mountainside. The carvings themselves are so much a part...

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  • Barbara Jordan, Congresswoman and Trailblazer

    Barbara Jordan (1936-96) was a dynamic and forceful African American from Texas who made great strides for American citizens. She exhibited a positive outlook, great intelligence, a good sense of humor, and had an uncanny ability to fully engage...

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  • Louis Armstrong’s Childhood

    Louis Armstrong was one of the finest jazz musicians in the world. His work broke ground for a new style of popular American music for which he received worldwide acclaim. A virtuoso on trumpet, Louis Armstrong developed a performance...

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  • P.T. Barnum’s Early Career

    P.T. Barnum is remembered as a circus impresario and a huckster. Both those memories do him a disservice. He had a long and varied career prior to entering the circus business at the age of 67. And while he...

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  • Final Evacuation of Saigon Signaled by Song “White Christmas”

    By April 1975—after almost twenty years fighting in Vietnam–the United States began its pull-out. That winter the North Vietnamese pushed the South Vietnamese back forcefully and definitively. The Americans knew that it was over. They needed to pull out...

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  • Ronald Reagan’s Jelly Beans

    Ronald Reagan may have had a sweet tooth, but the true reason he began eating jelly beans was because he quit smoking.  Reagan, a former actor, was well-known for Chesterfield cigarette ads from the 1940s and ‘50s, but it...

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  • Sarah Keys Evans: Taking a Stand for Civil Rights

    Sarah Keys Evans did not intend to take a stand for civil rights in 1952 when she boarded an interstate bus in Trenton, New Jersey. She was on leave from Fort Dix where she served in the Women’s Army...

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Topics At America Comes Alive

Part of the inspiration for this site comes from a remark made by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams (1860-1935)
"People do not want to hear about simple things. They want to hear about great things - simply told."


On December 13, 2000, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore reluctantly conceded defeat to Republican nominee George W. Bush. After the election, Gore led in the popular vote, but wrangling over votes in Florida led to a recount to determine how to cast the state’s electoral votes. The Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s favor, giving the Electoral College to Bush 271 to 266.

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Who Thought of That?

The drunkometer was invented by Dr. Rolla N. Harger followed by the Breathalyzer by Robert Borkenstein

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Heroes & Trailblazers

The Yale Lock: Still Keeping Homes Safe 160 Years Later

In 1847 Linus Yale, Sr. (1797-1858) opened a lock shop in Newport, NY. His particular interest was creating locks that did a better job at securing... continue »

Traveling West in 1854: The Story of an 11-Year-Old Girl and Her Family

We often read stories of families traveling west by wagon train. However, recently I was introduced to a reminiscence of a woman’s childhood journey to... continue »
What can one person do? Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead