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
  • Candy Corn–Read Its Story

    Candy corn is to Halloween what the candy cane is to Christmas. We may not dream of eating either of them, but each is the iconic candy for its holiday. For candy corn, that’s a David-vs-Goliath accomplishment. Kit Kats,...

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  • Isabel González and U.S. Citizenship for Puerto Ricans

    Isabel González was 20 years old and pregnant in 1902. She was traveling from her home in Puerto Rico to the United States, where the baby’s father moved to find a job in advance of González’s arrival. But at...

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  • Howard Johnson: Host of the Highway

    Restaurateur Howard Johnson made a name for himself by building a chain of roadside restaurants and motor lodges throughout the country.  Johnson emphasized quality control and a consistently good experience for his guests.

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  • Marmaduke: The Story

    Marmaduke made his first appearance in the newspaper comic pages in 1954. Since that time, Brad Anderson, who created the strip, and Paul Anderson, his son who joined the business in 2004, have never repeated a single panel. Despite...

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  • Admiral Richard Byrd’s Dog, Igloo

    The animals taken on polar expeditions are almost invariably powerful sled dogs that will be put to good use, getting the exploration team and equipment over the snow and ice. So what was Admiral Richard Byrd (1888-1957), one of...

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  • President James Garfield and Dog Veto

    President James Garfield (1831-1881) was a well-known and experienced politician when he became president in 1881. His time as president was cut short by an assassin’s bullet. The wound was not fatal, but because the medical community did yet...

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  • Dick and Jane: Story of These Early Readers

    Dick and Jane books were the predominant readers in public schools from the 1940s through the early 1960s. The books were created by educator Williams S. Gray and former teacher and reading consultant Zerna Sharp, who believed that the...

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  • 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...

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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...

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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,...

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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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  • 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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 October 18, 1867, the U.S. took possession of Alaska. America purchased the territory from Russia for $7.2 million. Russia wanted to sell because the land was remote and hard to defend. Negotiations between Secretary of State William H. Seward and the Russian minister began. The American public believed the land worthless, referring to the purchase as “Seward’s Folly.” Public opinion changed when gold was discovered in 1896.Today the state is recognized for its vast natural resources.
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Who Thought of That?


The concept of the presidential debates originated with Fred Kahn who was a Holocaust survivor. Kahn came to the U.S. and joined the Army. In 1956 while attending the University of Maryland on the G.I. Bill he began pushing for debates between the candidates to help educate voters.

Learn More »

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 »

Summer News Coverage: Usual Fare for First Families

Here are just a few of the news stories involving the president and his family over the course... 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