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
  • Ace Pilot Pete Fernandez: Korean War

    Ace pilot Pete Fernandez was one of the top fighter pilots in the Korean War, but he almost didn’t see combat. He was so valuable to the military as a flight instructor that their preference was to keep him safely in the United States. That was hard for a man like Manuel J. Fernandez, Jr., (known as Pete). When Fernandez finally convinced the »

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  • 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 way to check the fit of a shoe, thereby “guaranteeing” that the shoes would be comfortable. Children’s shoes were said to last longer because the fit could be more exact. The first »

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  • Smoky, Yorkshire Terrier and WWII War Dog

    Smoky, a four-pound Yorkshire terrier, went to war by Courtesy of Bill Wynne happenstance. She was found in New Guinea near an American military base in 1944. No one was going to send home a lost dog, no matter how tiny.  She soon embedded with a unit of the U.S. 5th Air Force and was adopted by one of the photographers working »

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  • Confederate Dog in the Civil War: Sawbuck

    Loyal dogs populated both armies in the Civil War. For every Union What Sawbuck might have looked like dog, there was a Confederate dog taking part in the battles. Like wars before it, the Civil War had no organized canine corps. (The first canine corps for the U.S. did not come about until World War II.)  But if men were going to war, »

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

    Mar-a-Lago, now owned by presidential candidate Donald Trump, Getty Images 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 agent in Palm Beach, »

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  • Dorothy Arzner, First Female Director in Hollywood Studio System

    Dorothy Arzner (1897-1979) was a Hollywood film director.  A woman director was a rarity in the early days of filmmaking. She directed films from 1926-1943 and amassed a considerable body of work. Arzner was also the first woman to become a member of the Directors Guild of America. How did she get started, and how has she so quickly been »

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  • Ophelia DeVore-Mitchell: Fashion Model, Entrepreneur, Publisher

    Ophelia DeVore (1921-2014) began her modeling career in 1938 when she was only 16. This gave her an early understanding of how difficult it was for non-whites to be selected for fashion photography or for advertising commissions. This led DeVore to start a modeling agency to represent men and women from different backgrounds. Diahann Carroll was »

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  • Black Jockey Hall of Famer Isaac Burns Murphy

    Isaac Burns Murphy (1861-1896) is considered one of the all-time great jockeys in Thoroughbred racing.  He was the first black jockey to be inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Among his many credits were three wins at the Kentucky Derby and four wins at Chicago’s American Derby, the most prestigious track in the late »

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  • Kenny Washington: Broke Color Line in NFL

    Kenny Washington (1918-1971) was the first African American to sign with an NFL team after a 13-year unspoken pact among owners to bar black football players from teams. Kenny Washington signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 1946, pre-dating baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s 1947 signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Jackie Robinson’s tale is »

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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 1, 1908, Ford Motor Company unveiled its first Model T. Henry Ford’s engineers developed a system of interchangeable parts that permitted unskilled workers on an assembly line to put together a full car. To keep things simple, all cars were black. Initially the car ran on either gasoline or hemp fuel. The Model T was enormously popular as a car “regular people could afford.” By the mid-1920s, customers were looki
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Who Thought of That?


In 1871 Margaret Knight devised a machine for creating the square-bottomed paper bag that is still in use today

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Hispanic Heritage Month

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

The 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... continue »

Dolores Huerta (1930- ), labor and civil rights activist, advocate for immigrants

Co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America “Democracy can only work if the people take power,” says Dolores Huerta, and she has dedicated her... 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