Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

About the Trip

A Northwestern University journalism student, professor and 2011 graduate are driving 13,500 miles around the United States between Sept. 18 and Dec. 11 for a project titled “Traveling with Twain in Search of America’s Identity.”  The three will follow the path that a young Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) took by stagecoach, steamship and train during trips east to New York, south to New Orleans and west to San Francisco during the 1850s and 1860s; they will interview a variety of Americans about race, immigration-status and other current identity issues and talk with members of a representative American family, the Ghigliones, that first immigrated to the United States from northern Italy in the 1870s. Read more >>

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Follow the Trip

Our race across the West takes us to Virginia City, Carson City and Angels Camp

We race west across Nevada and California to find places where Mark Twain worked, and we find, instead, places he sort of, kind of, well, he didn’t work. In the freezing basement of a Virginia City, … Read more >>

Ben Jaffe, heir to Preservation Hall, philosophizes about New Orleans jazz

I am listening to an intense, muscular Ben Jaffe, 40, creative director of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, talk slowly and thoughtfully about his New Orleans, his brow furrowed, his sprouting Jewfro tied behind his head. But … Read more >>

Miss Kim’s journey from Vietnamese village to American capital city

When the doctors couldn’t completely remove the large and painful cyst on her son Kent’s lower back, Chung Kim Do, who insists that we call her Miss Kim, took matters into her own hands. Miss Kim, … Read more >>

Before Occupy Wall Street there was The Greening of America

Four decades before the Occupy Wall Street message spread across America, the New Yorker published on September 26, 1970, a nearly 70-page article, “Reflections: The Greening of America,” by Yale Law School professor Charles Reich that … Read more >>

A story of hope, not hopelessness, in Julesburg, Colorado

With hours to drive before reaching the night’s Not-So-Super-8 Motel, we stopped in Julesburg, Colorado, for only one hour, the time Mark Twain spent there on his 1,700-mile stagecoach ride west in 1861 to Carson City, … Read more >>