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
  • Campbell Kids Creator Grace Drayton

    The creator of the iconic Campbell Kids was illustrator Grace Drayton (1877-1936), a highly successful artist, illustrator, and cartoonist. The Kids first appeared in 1904 and have been used on and off in advertising throughout Campbell Soup history. Today...

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  • Ronald Reagan’s Jelly Beans

    Ronald Reagan may have had a sweet tooth, but the true reason he began eating jelly beans was because he quit smoking.  Reagan, a former actor, was well-known for Chesterfield cigarette ads from the 1940s and ‘50s, but it...

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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Mar-a-Lago: The Winter White House

    Mar-a-Lago, now owned by presidential candidate Donald Trump, was built by Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973) in the 1920s.

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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, White Castle BLOOMINGTON, MN
    Getty Images

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  • “Kilroy Was Here”-A Story from World War II

    Kilroy was hereThe words, “Kilroy was here,” alongside a drawing of a long-nosed, bald fellow peering over a fence still pop up occasionally on walls and buildings today....

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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 November 23, 1936, the first issue of Life magazine as a pictorial publication was published. An earlier version of the magazine featured cultural reporting and humor. It folded during the Great Depression, and publisher Henry Luce bought the name and re-launched the magazine as a picture-based periodical. The original mission of Time was to tell the news. The mission of Life was to show it.
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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