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

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

Even in the age of the Internet, the U.S. Post Office still delivers many, many valentines in mid-February. The mass-production of these cards all began... 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 »

Inventor Beulah Louise Henry: Known as “Lady Edison”

 Beulah Louise Henry (1887-1973) registered 49 patents and is credited with at least 110 inventions. She was always tinkering to improve things she could use. She moved... continue »

Jackie Ormes (1911-1986), First African-American Female Cartoonist

Ormes’ comic strips were syndicated in black newspapers in the 1930s and ‘40s, making her the only nationally syndicated black woman cartoonist until the 1990s.... continue »