​Forgotten American history found in unlikely place

BALTIMORE -- This week I went searching for the birthplace of America -- in a Baltimore Rite Aid. Andy Carroll, a faculty member at Chapman University, is the one who discovered the historical significance of this particular spot of land.

"There's a whole world out there waiting to be found," said Andy. "I mean these sites exist in cities and towns across America."

What Andy does -- for fun -- is research events that have been mostly forgotten and tracks down exactly where those events happened.

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Andy Carroll, left, inside a Baltimore Rite Aid with CBS News' Steve Hartman
CBS News

There's the California apartment building where the man who invented the electronic television did his first experiments; the Iowa laboratory -- now parking garage -- where the first American car was built; the New York Street corner where the first cell phone call was made.

"I love the idea that people walk past these places everyday having no idea that this extraordinary event took place right in their own neighborhood," said Andy.

His latest discovery centers on nothing less than the Declaration of Independence. There are several versions of the Declaration, but one version -- printed a few months after the original by a woman named Mary Katherine Goddard -- played a crucial role in the war, which we were losing at the time.

"Congress was literally on the run and they wanted to send a message that the country was still united, far from beaten, and so Mary Katherine Goddard distributed this new Declaration of Independence but this time it had all the signers," explained Andy. "I think it helped solidify and really rally the nation at a time when it was desperately needed."

Which brings us back to the makeup aisle at Rite Aid -- the likely site for Mary Goddard's print shop.

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Andy Carroll installs a plaque inside a Baltimore Rite Aid where Mary Katherine Goddard printed a version of the Declaration of Independence
CBS News

"This is absolutely one of the birthplaces of our nation," said Andy in front of the lipstick and ironically near the Americana display.

So to honor the woman who made our picnics possible, Andy installed a plaque inside the drug store.

But more importantly, Andy hopes her story, this story, reminds people that you don't need to go to the Smithsonian to go back in time -- that there may be a lot of history right under your massaging gel insoles.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.