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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

Entrepreneurs & Inventors

The Magic Lantern-Early Form of Slide Projector

The magic lantern is a very old invention that served as a primitive slide projector. As improvements were made, the magic lantern eventually produced moving... continue »

How Jumbo Joined the Circus

Jumbo the elephant was identified as a possible “get” for the Barnum & Bailey circus in 1882 by a circus scout who found the elephant... continue »

P.T. Barnum’s Early Career

P.T. Barnum is remembered as a circus impresario and a huckster. Both those memories do him a disservice. He had a long and varied career... continue »

Drive-In Movie Theaters

The concept for the first drive-in movie business originated with one man in the late 1920s. Richard M. Hollingshead, Jr. came up with the concept... continue »

Jelly Beans: Candy History

Jelly beans in America probably date to the early 19th century. The first known mention of this candy was in a Boston newspaper in 1861.... continue »

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... continue »

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... continue »

Admiral Richard Byrd’s Dog, Igloo

Admiral Richard E. Byrd with Igloo, his Pet Wire Fox Terrier, Portrait, circa 1920's. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty... continue »

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... continue »

First Rearview Mirror Marketed as “Cop-spotter”

The first widely distributed rearview mirror for automobiles was sold as the “Cop-spotter” by a fellow... continue »

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: Its Origin

Today Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is the star of a popular holiday television special and a live stage show. The song, based on the story,... continue »

X-Ray Shoe-Fitting Machine

The X-ray shoe-fitting machine (fluoroscope) was a common fixture in American shoe stores during the 1930s-50s. In ads, the machines were touted as a new... continue »