About this Site


Welcome to the Journeys through History website! Travel across America with extraordinary characters whose lives reveal a great deal about culture and politics in the early twentieth century. We’ll also be adding provocative stories inspired by family papers going back more than a century, as well as by the author’s experiences over the last five decades. People in the first half of the 20th century tackled many problems that are similar to those we are facing today. How did they face these challenges?

The first of these unusual characters is Rosa Brant Sutton who became a national sensation in 1909 after she launched a fight for government accountability following the death of her son, Marine Corps Lieutenant James N. Sutton. Her crusade for justice is the murder mystery and ghost story at the center of A Soul on TrialRosa’s feisty spirit inspired her granddaughter, author and screenwriter Jane Hall, to believe she could accomplish anything. 

When she was ten, Jane decided to be a writer like her father, Arizona’s beloved humorist Dick Wick Hall whose Salome Sun made the town he co-founded famous across America in the 1920s. Acclaimed as a “literary prodigy,”  Jane published dozens of stories, poems, and articles before she became an orphan in 1930. See the early posts in this website’s blog for highlights about Jane’s modest beginnings in the tiny hamlet of Salome, Arizona, and in Manhattan Beach, California, where her career blossomed. The blog also provides the back story for Such Mad Fun: Ambition and Glamour in Hollywood’s Golden Age,  

“Warrenton Oyster Fry” by Jane Hall for John Steuart Curry’s class at Cooper Union

Other posts explore a variety of subjects. Magazine articles from the 1930s to1950s dealt with still familiar topics such as the lives of FBI agents; Thanksgiving on a budget; Eleanor Roosevelt on whether or not wives should work outside the home; Real news or fake? In 1939 Dorothy Thompson weighed in on that subject. You will also find answers to questions like how did a painting Jane Hall did in art school (above) end up at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research? Enjoy these and more anecdotes that give some perspective to our complicated and ever-changing world.