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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From the Mekong to the Mississippi

On the fortieth anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, Vietnamese immigrants and their children gathered alongside Vietnam War veterans to reflect on the dramatic events that forever changed both of their destinies—the siege of South Vietnam’s … Read more >>

Alameda Ghigliones demonstrate the immigrant entrepreneurial spirit with produce business, trucking company

After a day in Calaveras County, home to the world-famous frog-jumping contest inspired by Mark Twain’s story, we drive west to the island of Alameda, California, to interview Frank Ghiglione, who has his own frog-jumping story. … Read more >>

Natalie Sheppard discusses being a black Mormon in the Salt Lake City area

Of all the cities and towns on Mark Twain’s route west that we visited, Salt Lake City honors him least. The city’s magnificent main library, a 240,000-sq.-ft., five-story-tall curved wedge-shaped beauty by Moshe Safdie and other … Read more >>

We drove through memorable-monikered Louisiana towns to get to a “graffiti board” in Little Rock

After a full day of interviewing at Louisiana State Penitentiary, we shot north toward Arkansas through Louisiana towns with memorable monikers: Tallulah (not named for the actress), Water Proof and Transylvania (an enormous black bat adorns … Read more >>

Remembrances of death as well as life in Unionville

To get to Unionville, Nevada, where Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) tried prospecting for silver and gold, we drive south for 17 miles from Interstate 80 along desert-like, brush land marked by yellow “Open Range” road signs, … Read more >>