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Stories of America’s Past

Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of regular people who made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around and see what inspires you! — Kate Kelly

Kate Kelly

The Invention of Sunscreen

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, sunscreen was being developed independently but simultaneously by at least four different chemists in various parts of the world: The first-to-market was likely H.A. Milton in Australia. In the early 1930s, he discovered that a  wound-healing substance seemed to protect against the sun. Once he developed …
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curb cut in use

Curb Cuts: They Have a History!

Curb cuts—the slight slope from a sidewalk to a roadway—are preferred by most people: walkers, bikers, and parents pushing children in strollers—yet they came about only because of a hard-fought battle by disability rights activists. Enjoy them, use them, just don’t ever take them for granted. The Issue With Curbs For most people, …
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Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters, Blues Singer and Actress

Ethel Waters was an enormously popular jazz and blues singer from the 1920s until her death in 1977. She broke barriers in many cultural areas and created a path for Blacks to star on Broadway. Her quieter more interpretive style of presenting a song brought blues out of the jazz …
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The Telephone Operator

The invention of the telephone in 1876 jump-started several new developments: The telephones themselves needed to be further refined. Telephone offices with operating equipment needed to be created so that telephone calls could be made within a community. (Very early telephones were sold in pairs and functioned as a home-to-office communication system, …
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Tiffany Designer Clara Driscoll

Louis Comfort Tiffany is perhaps the single most famous artist of all time in the field of decorative arts. During his era, his name was the only one associated with his firm’s design work. But recent information uncovered by a professor and a curator have led to a new understanding: …
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Chester Nez: Navajo Code Talker & Marine

Table of contentsNez ChildhoodMarine RecruiterThe MarinesIdea for CodeCreating the Navajo CodeCode Talker MethodologyTesting the CodeGuadalcanalMessages SentSecret Even on the BattlefieldNez Tour of Duty EndsThe G.I. BillFamily LifeCode Talkers Declassified Chester Nez, a Navajo, was recruited by the Marines in 1942. He was one of 29 Navajos who were brought into the …
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On
This
Day

On June 19, 1905, showman Harry Davis opened the first-ever nickelodeon (theater) in Pittsburgh, PA. Soon nickelodeons were opening across the country. They were named for the cost charged each patron (5 cents) and the Greek word for “theater.” The shows generally featured live vaudeville acts and the showing of short silent films.

Heroes & Trailblazers

The Invention of Sunscreen

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, sunscreen was being developed independently but simultaneously by at least four different chemists in various parts of the world: The first-to-market …
Read More
curb cut in use

Curb Cuts: They Have a History!

Curb cuts—the slight slope from a sidewalk to a roadway—are preferred by most people: walkers, bikers, and parents pushing children in strollers—yet they came about …
Read More


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Recent Stories

The Invention of Sunscreen

In the 1930’s and 1940’s, sunscreen was being developed independently but simultaneously by at least four different chemists in various parts of the world: The first-to-market …
Read More
curb cut in use

Curb Cuts: They Have a History!

Curb cuts—the slight slope from a sidewalk to a roadway—are preferred by most people: walkers, bikers, and parents pushing children in strollers—yet they came about …
Read More

The Telephone Operator

The invention of the telephone in 1876 jump-started several new developments: The telephones themselves needed to be further refined. Telephone offices with operating equipment needed to be …
Read More

Part of the inspiration for this site comes from this remark: “People do not want to hear about simple things. They want to hear about great things – simply told.”

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jane Addams (1860-1935)
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