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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

Inspirational Women

First Woman Tiger Trainer/Tamer: Mabel Stark (1888-1968)

• Performed with many circuses as a tiger trainer and had the center ring with Ringling Brothers in the early 1920s • Worked with the... continue »

Elizabeth Thorn (1832-1907): Six Months Pregnant and Burying the Dead at Gettysburg

Stepped in to serve as cemetery caretaker since her husband was off fighting for the Union Often referred to as "Angel of Gettysburg" Elizabeth Masser... continue »

Valaida Snow (1904-1956): Jazz Pioneer and “Queen of the Trumpet”

Jazz performer and pioneer Louis Armstrong called her the “second best trumpet player” in the world; Armstrong placed himself first.  Valaida Snow was born into... continue »

Myra Bradwell (1831-1894): Rejected by Bar Assoc. but Builds Legal Publishing Empire

• Refused admission to the bar and the practice of law by the Illinois Supreme Court because of her gender; • Established the Chicago Legal... continue »

Olive Ann Mellor Beech (1904-1993), Aviation Industrialist and Pioneer

 First woman to head major aircraft company First—and thus far, the only--woman to receive National Aeronautic Association’s Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (1980)  Selected by The... continue »

Annie Edson Taylor (1838-1921): American Daredevil

• Sought fame and fortune by taking a plunge over Niagara Falls• First person ever to successfully go over the Falls in a barrel• Used... continue »

Eleanor Roosevelt: Foster Parent for World War II Refugees

Throughout her life, Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was a humanitarian, always finding ways to play an active role in helping others.   She was particularly affected by... continue »

Marjorie Stewart Joyner (1896-1994): Inventor of a Permanent Hair-Wave Machine

Invented a permanent wave machine that added curl to straight hair and could be used to straighten curly hair Became national supervisor for more than... continue »

Esther Howland (1828-1904), First in America to Mass Produce Valentines

Valentines need to be held to be appreciated. An e-valentine just isn't the same.  A woman in Massachusetts was the first to develop the concept... continue »

Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952), First African-American to Win an Oscar

First African-American woman to sing on radio First African-American to win an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress for her role in Gone with the Wind); however,... continue »

Charlotta Spears Bass (1874-1969): Newspaper Owner Who Fought for Civil Rights

• First African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper • Crusaded against job and housing discrimination, police brutality, and media stereotyping. Advocated for civil... continue »

Mary Fields (ca. 1832-1914): First African-American Woman to Carry the Mail

First African-American woman employed to carry the U.S. mail; Traveled the mail route for central Montana for more than ten years. Mary Fields was born... continue »