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.

American Inventors: The Stories of Men and Women Who Devise Answers to Vexing Problems

Inventions are the ultimate result of successful problem-solving.

But how on earth did people come up with the first ideas for luxuries (and now necessities) as disposable diapers, the dishwasher, the cell phone, and blue jeans?

inventor of cell phoneRecently I have been asked to speak on this topic to various audiences, including the Larchmont (NY) Historical Society. The Society was kind enough to arrange to have the presentation recorded so I can share it with readers.

In the speech, entitled “From the Can Opener to Blue Jeans: Stories of Ingenious American Inventions,” I outline how certain items came to be.  For example, competition to invent the first cell phone was high between two different laboratories, both inching toward the final product.  In my remarks I tell a very good story about how Motorola notified Bell Labs that they had beaten them to the final step. The story is also explained here.

In contrast, an item like the disposable diaper was created by one diaper inventor,  Marion Donovanmom working at home on the project.  Marion Donovan was a young mother in Connecticut who became convinced that when it came to diapers, there had to be a better way that the constant series of laundry she was currently doing for her babies.  First, she invented the diaper cover, which sold very well, so next she went on to create a fully disposable diaper.  Parenting was forever changed. Continue reading

Hispanic leader
America Comes Alive has profiled several Latino leaders during the past few weeks as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Today I would like to point out a few of the impressive people we’ve highlighted: Adelina Otero-Warren (1881-1965) was active in the suffrage movement in New Mexico. She became… Continue reading »

Rosenwald Schools
The Rosenwald Schools  were built in the early 20th century as a solution to the scarcity of schools for African-Americans in the rural South at that time.  The school-building program was the idea of educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) who approached Julius Rosenwald, (1862-1932), the president of… Continue reading »

Ellen Ochoa
Ellen Ochoa (1958-   ) is a veteran astronaut who was chosen for four space flights and has almost one thousand flight hours to her credit.  She was the first Latina to be chosen as an astronaut, and she is now director… Continue reading »

Carlos Finlay
The cause of yellow fever was identified by Dr. Carlos Finlay (1833-1915), a Cuban physician who was instrumental in reducing the incidence of yellow fever in tropical climates throughout the world. In the United States, this was important in the southern states where the weather was often… Continue reading »

Art school dropout who became Frank Lloyd Wright’s exclusive photographer Pedro Guerrero was born in Casa Grande, Arizona on September 5, 1917. His family had been in Arizona for several generations before the territory achieved statehood. His great-grandfather had settled in a little town known as Florence in… Continue reading »

One of first female government officials in New Mexico First New Mexican woman and the first Latina to run for national office Suffragist Born into a well-to-do family that traced its heritage to eleventh-century Spain, Adelina “Nina” Maria Isabel Emilia Otero was born in 1881 in Las Lunas, New Mexico. Otero-Warren was… Continue reading »

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 California from Ohio via the Isthmus of Panama.  The family opted for the route that took the least time, traveling from Ohio to… Continue reading »

George Washington
George Washington’s teeth were bad, and he lost many of them while still young. This fact about our first president is generally well-known as much has been written about his dentures. The story of his teeth reveals a great deal about the state of dentistry during his lifetime,… Continue reading »

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Those of us who were alive on September 11, 2001 will never live long enough to forget that day.  Whether we witnessed it on television, from the streets of Manhattan or D.C. or from farther away, there was the horror of watching the extraordinarily bright blue skies… Continue reading »

Flag for Pledge of Allegiance
As the Pledge of Allegiance became more widely accepted after its introduction in 1892, various groups weighed in on the wording.  There have been alterations from the original wording penned by Francis Bellamy (1855-1931): “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for… Continue reading »

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."

This Day in History

On October 21, 1959, the Guggenheim Museum opened in New York City.  Commissioned by art collector Solomon R. Guggenheim and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum was to house Guggenheim’s impressive collection of contemporary art.  The museum itself was a work of art with its long inner ramp spiraling downward from a large central rotunda. Located on New York’s Museum Mile, along Fifth Avenue by Central Park, the Guggenheim has become one of the city’s most popular attractions.


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