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
  • Walter Knott: Farmer and Theme Park Pioneer

    Walter Knott (1889-1981) is best remembered for creating Knott’s Berry Farm, now a popular amusement park. He deserves to be remembered for many more contributions to the country. He was a dedicated and gifted farmer who was the first to grow the berry now known as the boysenberry; he was a scrapp »

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  • WWI: U.S. Recruits Women Operators

    About six months after the U.S. entered World War I, the Signal Corps—the U.S. Communications unit of the Army---put out a call for women telephone operators. This was at the express request of General John J. Pershing, the top commander of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front. T »

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  • Baseball’s Ceremonial Pitch: Presidential Traditions

    “Taft Throws Out Ball” read the headline of The New York Times on April 15, 1910. With that report on an easy toss of a baseball, a presidential tradition was born. Since that time, most presidents have found a way to honor the sport that is often referred to as America’s favorite pastime. War »

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  • Alice S. Wells: Among First Policewomen

    Alice Stebbins Wells (1873-1957) was among the earliest women hired to work in law enforcement in the United States. She urged passage of a law that would let her join the police force in Los Angeles, and in 1910, she was hired as a policewoman. In addition to her patrol work--walking a beat and che »

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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 Corps. Dressed in her full military uniform, she was traveling home to visit her family in… »

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  • Colonel Charles Young, Notable Military Leader with Many Firsts

    Charles Young (1864-1922) graduated from West Point and went on to achieve the rank of colonel in the military, the highest rank of any African American in the early 20th century. Young was also a brilliant linguist and was among the pioneers in the military’s foreign intelligence field. He served »

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  • The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

    The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion was an all-female black military unit created in 1944. These women are among the unsung heroes of World War II. The work they accomplished—hand-processing warehouses-full of undelivered mail--brought comfort to countless American soldiers who longed fo »

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  • Alice Cogswell: Bright Child Who Inspired Education for Deaf in U.S.

    Alice Cogswell (1805-1830) was two years old when she suffered “spotted fever” (likely meningitis). She recovered but lost her ability to hear. Her bright, inquisitive manner attracted the attention of neighbor Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (1787-1851).  After getting to know Alice, Gallaudet was in »

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  • First Rearview Mirror Marketed as “Cop-spotter”

    The first widely distributed rearview mirror for automobiles was sold as the “Cop-spotter” by a fellow named Elmer Berger. Available as an auto accessory, the “Cop-spotter” retailed in hardware stores for about $4. (Cars did not routinely have any sort of mirrors until the late 1920s.) We th »

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  • Buster Brown Shoes and Mary Janes

    “I'm Buster Brown, and I live in a shoe. That's my dog, Tige, and he lives there, too,” went the jingle for Buster Brown shoes. The Brown Shoe Company began in 1878 as a partnership among three St. Louis businessmen: George Brown, Alvin L. Bryan, and Jerome Desnoyers. George Warren Brown was the »

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  • Mar-a-Lago: The Winter White House

    Mar-a-Lago, owned by President Donald Trump, was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) in the 1920s. The cereal heiress wanted a winter retreat for herself and her second husband, Edward F. Hutton. She was said to have climbed through the jungle-like undergrowth with a real estate agent in »

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  • Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle’s Dog, Luke

    Fatty Arbuckle’s dog, Luke, was one of the most talented stars of silent films.  In a day when camera tricks were technologically not possible, Luke is seen jumping from one wall on a building rooftop to another narrow wall across the way. He climbs from ground to roof via ladders, leaps into win »

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  • White Castle Hamburgers: The Story

    White Castle holds the title of being the first fast-food restaurant inthe world. Their original hamburger eatery opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1921. The restaurant was the start of what has become a multi-billion dollar fast food industry. (White Castle predated McDonald’s by many years. The first »

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  • The All American Red Heads, Women’s Professional Basketball Team, 1936-1986

    The All American Red Heads, a women's professional basketball team, were the female equivalent of the all-male Harlem Globetrotters; Like the Globetrotters, they were stellar at the game of basketball but also delightfully pleasing entertainers. The team was the brainchild of C.M. Olson of Cassville »

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  • The First Seeing Eye Dog is Used in America in 1928

    In the early twentieth century, those without sight were marginalized members of society. They had no job options and no mobility, and had to rely on the kindness of someone who might lead them or help them with whatever needed to be done. A series of circumstances on two continents was to change al »

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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 This Day


On May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge officially opened. When it was completed, it became the longest suspension bridge in the world (4,200 feet).  The bridge connected San Francisco with Marin County, California. Opening day was declared Pedestrian Day, and by 6 a.m. several thousand people were lined up on both sides of the bridge. In all, some 200,000 showed up that day. The next day the bridge opened for cars.
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Who Thought of That?


Scrabble was the brainchild of an out-of-work architect named Alfred M. Butts.

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American Presidents and Their Families

In Times of War: Lincoln and the Holidays

In preparation for a panel discussion being held at Greenwich Library this month as part of the celebration of Lincoln's bicentennial, I began wondering how... continue »

Little-Known Story about the Gettysburg Address

For Americans, the mere mention of "Four score and seven years ago..." brings to mind President Lincoln giving the address he delivered at Gettysburg 149... continue »
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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