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
  • The Football Huddle: When Was It First Used?

    The football huddle came about during the 1890s. This was about 25 years after intercollegiate football began being played in the United States. From the beginning, the game was popular at colleges. As its popularity grew, some of the rules and practices evolved to fit the game as it was being played. The game was also frequently played at »

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  • 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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  • 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 21, 1959, the Guggenheim Museum opened in New York City. Commissioned by art collector Solomon R. Guggenheim and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum was to house Guggenheim’s impressive collection of contemporary art. The museum itself was a work of art with its long inner ramp spiraling downward from a large central rotunda. Located on New York's Museum Mile, along Fifth Avenue by Central Park, the Guggenheim has become one of the city's
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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

First Hispanic Governor of California: Romualdo Pacheco, Jr.

Governor (Jose Antonio) Romualdo Pacheco, Jr. (1831-1899) American politician and diplomat Only Hispanic (thus far) to serve as Governor of California First Hispanic representative of... continue »

Ellen Ochoa: First Latina Astronaut, Inventor and Now Director of “Mission Control”

Ellen Ochoa (1958-   ) is a veteran astronaut who was chosen for four space flights and has... continue »
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