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  • Deaf Lifeguard Saved Almost 1000 From Drowning

    Leroy Colombo became deaf when he suffered spinal meningitis when he was seven years old (1912). He grew up to be a remarkably good lifeguard. Being deaf might have disqualified him for lifeguarding under certain circumstances, but Leroy’s deafness...

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  • Cracker Jack: Ever-Popular Baseball Snack

    Cracker Jack holds the spot as “most famous of baseball snacks.” Remarkably, it has held that honor for over 100 years. The snack itself began as a simple, inexpensive confection sold by street vendors in Chicago.  The story of...

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  • School Safety Patrols

    The school safety patrol system using older elementary school children to help younger children navigate the streets was created much earlier than one would expect. The program dates to 1920, a time when there were relatively few cars on...

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  • Hazel Ying Lee: First Female Chinese American Military Pilot

    Hazel Ying Lee broke barriers by becoming the first female Chinese-American pilot to fly for the military during World War II. Women were not permitted by the U.S. military to fly overseas missions, but they assumed responsibility for the...

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  • Sybil Ludington, 16, Helped Patriots in Revolutionary War

    Sybil Ludington is known for her 40-mile night ride through parts of New York and Connecticut to alert American Patriots that the British military had come ashore in Connecticut and were marching inland. The date was April 26, 1777,...

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  • Mary Ellen Pleasant, Entrepreneur and Abolitionist

    Abolitionist and successful Gold Rush entrepreneur Mary Ellen Pleasant was a free woman of mixed-race who dedicated her life to equality for African Americans. From helping with the Underground Railroad to suing for the right to ride on segregated...

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  • Horace Pippin: Gifted Painter and Harlem Hellfighter

    When it  became clear that the U.S. would enter World War I, Horace Pippin left his job with a moving company in Paterson, New Jersey and enlisted. He was 29 and was placed in the 369th  Colored Infantry Regiment...

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  • Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was 25 years old when he and his new wife, Coretta, moved to Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. He was to be pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Less than one year later, Rosa Parks...

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  • Jack Abernathy: Catching Live Wolves Bare-Handed

    Jack Abernathy was a rough-and-tumble Texas cowboy who feared nothing. He achieved fame for devising a method to capture live wolves bare-handed. He then sold them to zoos and entertainment companies around the country.

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  • Children Teddy Roosevelt Admired

    Teddy Roosevelt had his own sons and daughters whom he loved deeply, but two children, Louis (called Bud) and Temple Abernathy, became his friends while he was in the White House. Roosevelt admired Bud and Temple for living the...

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  • Bugle Calls and the Origin of TAPS

    Communication on a military battlefield or in camp is vital, but before technological advances, spreading information and commands was challenging. Messengers were used to communicate among commanders, but the difficulty was great when informing large groups of men.

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  • Asian Indians Fight for U.S. in World War I

    Nearly a quarter of the men who fought for America in World War I were foreign born, including many Asian Indians who arrived in the U.S. seeking education, a better life, and freedom from British domination of India. It...

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  • Latino Family Opened Door to School Integration in 1940s

    The school desegregation case of Mendez v. Westminster (1947) prepared the way for the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, yet few people have heard of it. The case concerned an incident in 1943 when a woman took...

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  • President H.W. Bush’s Service Dog

    The Bush family has always had dogs and loved them with great devotion. Dogs have always seen them through challenging times. President George H.W. Bush experienced the loss of a lifetime when his wife Barbara died in April 2018....

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  • 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 at the London Zoo. After learning of the elephant, James Bailey sent the man...

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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 May 20, 1873, tailor Jacob Davis was granted a patent to create work pants that became known as blue jeans; they were reinforced with metal rivets for durability. Levi Strauss handled the paperwork so he gained certain patent rights as well.

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Who Thought of That?


Wheelchairs did not come into common use until the last 150 years, but various forms of them existed before the 1860s. Here's how they were invented:

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Heroes & Trailblazers

Fannie Farmer: Cookbook Author Who Instituted Exact Measuring

Fannie Farmer (1857-1915) became famous as an author of a highly popular cookbook that broke new ground by specifying exact measurements in its recipes. She... continue »

The American Story

A PATCHWORK OF PEOPLE What did your great-grandparents do? If you think about it, they were probably important players in helping develop our country, no... 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