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
  • 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 »

    Alice Cogswell: Bright Child Who Inspired Education for Deaf in U.S. Learn More »

  • 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 »

    First Rearview Mirror Marketed as “Cop-spotter” Learn More »

  • 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-Elect 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 ag »

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  • The Triple Nickles: Army’s First Black Paratroopers

    The Triple Nickles, as the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was known, were a remarkable, highly-disciplined company of African American paratroopers who paved the way for integration in the military. They also overcame military skepticism by proving that African Americans could excel at jobs that »

    The Triple Nickles: Army’s First Black Paratroopers Learn More »

  • Martin Luther King Jr. on The Declaration of Independence

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left us with many inspirational thoughts, so it is never easy to pick just one. However, recently, I came upon part of a sermon he gave at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, on or near July 4 of 1965. In it, he references the second paragraph of The Declaration of… »

    Martin Luther King Jr. on The Declaration of Independence Learn More »

  • Who Invented the Shopping Cart?

    The shopping cart was invented in the mid-1930s by Sylvan N. Goldman (1898-1984). Goldman ran a grocery store chain called Humpty Dumpty, and he observed that shoppers struggled with the “hand carry” shopping baskets. “They had a tendency to stop shopping when the baskets became too full or to »

    Who Invented the Shopping Cart? Learn More »

  • 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 »

    Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle’s Dog, Luke Learn More »

  • 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 »

    White Castle Hamburgers: The Story Learn More »

  • Bubble Gum: How Dubble Bubble was Invented

    Bubble gum.  Few adults chew it, but all of us surely chewed the delightful pink stuff while growing up:  the sweet smell when unwrapping the paper, the powdery sugar that came off on one’s fingers, the fun  of reading the funnies wrapped inside, and the thrill of blowing giant bubbles or even »

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  • Abraham Lincoln’s Patent: The Only President-Inventor

    To read this patent application today is to be transported to a time before the name, Abraham Lincoln, carried such import---before he was the President who led our country through a war that literally could have torn the country in two. The application begins: “Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln »

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  • The Invention of the Polygraph

    The lie detector—or polygraph machine--was first created by John Augustus Larson (1892-1965), a part-time employee of the Berkley Police Department who was earning his Ph.D. in physiology at the University of California at Berkeley. In studying interrogations taking place in the police department, »

    The Invention of the Polygraph Learn More »

  • Isabella Coleman: Rose Bowl Parade Float Designer and Innovator

    Isabella Coleman broke ground for women by being the first female to design floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade. Her design career began when she was a teenager, and she went on to run her own design company, making more than 250 award-winning floats over her fifty-year career. Many of the inn »

    Isabella Coleman: Rose Bowl Parade Float Designer and Innovator Learn More »

  • Martin Luther King, Jr: Thoughts To Live By

    This weekend we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who changed America, and was only 39 when he was killed for making those changes. Civil rights leader and Nobel Prize Winner Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and father of four, who believed in social change »

    Martin Luther King, Jr: Thoughts To Live By Learn More »

  • Latinas in World War II: A Little-Recognized Group

    In the 1930s during the Great Depression, Americans were looking for scapegoats, and in an effort to save jobs for “real Americans” they began rounding up and deporting many people who had moved to the U.S. from Mexico, a good number of whom were “real” U.S. citizens.  In addition to being »

    Latinas in World War II: A Little-Recognized Group Learn More »

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 January 17, 1950, the Brinks Armored Car depot in Boston, Massachusetts was robbed.  Eleven men appeared in Brinks-like uniforms; they entered with copied keys and tied up employees. In about 30 minutes, they left with $2.7 million—the largest robbery in the U.S. at the time. There were few clues, but one of the men was jailed for another crime. He finally talked just before the statute of limitations on the crime would have expired.
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Who Thought of That?


The keyboards of today are the same design as the originals in the 19th century. Here's how the design came about.

Learn More »

American Presidents and Their Families

In Honor of Presidents Day

Today we celebrate both Abraham Lincoln's birthday (February 12)  and George Washington's birthday (February 22) on the same weekend, so in honor of both presidents... continue »

The Pets of President John F. Kennedy’s Family

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) was the youngest candidate ever to be elected president, and he served from 1961-1963. (This year we will mark the 50th... 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