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

First Giant Panda Brought to U.S. by Ruth Harkness

The first giant panda brought to the United States was introduced by Ruth Harkness in 1937. Harkness wasn’t driven by a passion for pandas or an enthusiasm for exploration. Harkness stepped in to bring back the panda cub because her new husband died before he could complete the task. Milwaukee Public …
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Terhune with dogs on swing

The Collies of Sunnybank

The collies of Sunnybank were one of the best-loved kennels for collie breeding in the twentieth century. The dogs were bred by newsman Albert Payson Terhune. Terhune had two loves besides his wife: his beloved collies and his home in New Jersey, Sunnybank. Sunnybank is located in Wayne, New Jersey. Though …
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Comanche: Horse Survivor of Little Bighorn

Comanche was a U.S. cavalry horse who participated in many battles in the West including the Battle of Little Bighorn. He achieved fame because he was the only survivor—human or animal–when reinforcements arrived at Little Bighorn. All 200 of George Custer’s men were killed by the Native Americans. A few other …
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University of Arizona Special Collections; Ina Gittings on the pole vault

Trailblazer For Women in Sports: Ina Gittings

Title IX–the law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any programs or activities in all federally funded educational institutions—was instrumental to bringing women into athletics.  University of Arizona Special Collections But pioneers in women’s sports had to precede the hard-fought battle for a law.  Ina (pronounced Eena) Gittings was among the women …
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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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On October 5, 1947, President Harry Truman made the first televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to conserve on food so it could be shared with post-war Europe. Each person should eat seven fewer slices of bread per week, eat no meat on Tuesdays, and no eggs or poultry on Thursdays. This program was short-lived as Truman’s economic recovery plan for Europe—the Marshall Plan—began to help sooner than expected.

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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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