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.

Carlos Finlay: Cuban Physician Who Solved the Mystery of Yellow Fever And Made the Panama Canal Possible

Carlos FinlayThe 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 subtropical. The discovery was also crucial in Panama where the U.S. invested heavily to build a canal to reduce the shipping time of goods from the East to California and the West.

While many doctors were puzzling through the transmission of both malaria and yellow fever, Finlay came to the conclusion that neither illness could travel from human to human without a vector (carrier). Finlay identified that the mosquito was the carrier of both illnesses.

Carlos Finlay’s Background

Finlay was born in 1833 in Puerto Principe (now Camagüey), Cuba. His mother was French and his father, a doctor, was Scottish. The couple relocated to Cuba and embraced the country as their own. 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 Hispano 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 »

Writing the Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance is so much a part of the fabric of our country that it is surprising to be reminded that it has only been recited for the past 122 years.  Even more unexpected is the fact that the pledge… Continue reading »

smart German Shepherd
A smart German shepherd was brought to public attention in the 1920s, recognized for the almost unlimited number of commands he could understand.  His owner, Jacob Herbert of Detroit, was a man with… Continue reading »

The fact that there were dogs traveling on the Titanic with their owners would come as no surprise to anyone who considers it. However, with all that has been written about the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, little has been written about the dogs who were passengers. Dedicated research… Continue reading »

Custer and dog
General George Custer loved his dogs, and he had many of them.  Throughout much of his military career, a good number of his dogs accompanied him everywhere.  He had so many dogs (40-80) that even if he set out with fifteen or twenty of them, there… 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 September 17, 1996, Oprah began her television book club, picking Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean for her first book.  So many people responded by reading the books she chose and watching Oprah’s interviews with the authors that she had quite an impact on the publishing world. Her efforts were good for the book business, but even better for instilling the importance of reading.

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