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

A First Birthday Party for a Great, Great, Great-Granddaughter

Mark Twain, celebrator of his siblings and children, many of whom died too young, would have joined me in appreciating what I experienced with the Ghiglione family in Seattle. I am an effete, East Coast Ghiglione, … Read more >>

Muscatine, Iowa: A site for sunsets, appropriately, on the last day of our 14,063-mile trip

If Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) were to return to Muscatine, Iowa, where he helped brother Orion put out the Journal in the early 1850s, he would find reminders of three fascinating economies in the Mississippi River … Read more >>

Chicago, Second City or second-rate?

As we follow Mark Twain’s path in 1853 north by stagecoach from Springfield, Illinois, I’m reminded of how Twain’s vision of his next stop, Chicago, changed and didn’t change. Twain insisted that a visitor always found … Read more >>

Looking in Seattle for a Dynamited Garage and Finding a Twain-Type Mississippi River Story

Alyssa Karas, Dan Tham and I piled into the backseat of John Ghiglione’s white, 2002 Saturn for the drive to the Seattle home and famous-for-a-day garage of his father, Dr. August J. Ghiglione, who served as … Read more >>

What Julie Pham learned managing a Vietnamese newspaper in the Pacific Northwest

One day, an elderly Vietnamese man walked into the office of Người Việt Tây Bắc. He wanted to place a classified ad in the largest and oldest newspaper for Vietnamese immigrants in Washington. Julie Pham, 33, … Read more >>

The sights and sounds of Pike Place

Here is a look at our day in Seattle’s most famous market. Video by Dan Q. Tham