Jo Haraf, Author

History with a Heartbeat

Sometimes fiction.
Sometimes biography.
Always historical.

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Jo Haraf seeks out forgotten people whose stories need to be told.

In her fiction, biography, and history, you’ll meet engaging, and sometimes annoying, men and women you’ll be unlikely to forget.

Purchase your copy of Marriage, Murder, and Betrayal in Nineteenth-Century California from the Marin History Museum and support the museum’s many worthwhile projects. Marriage, Murder, and Betrayal is also available at

Latest Posts

Cross-cut Trees

An accidental discovery helps map northern California’s portion of El Camino Real, the Royal Road linking California’s missions.

Not Silk, Plaid

When not intimidated by his second wife, James Black railed against her spendthrift habits. “I’ll not cover her back in silk out of my money,” he thundered during an atypically long monologue. After Black’s death in 1870, the oft-wed Widow Black traded her usual taffeta for a riotous plaid dress, immortalized in a luxurious settingContinue reading “Not Silk, Plaid”

Sea Otters: Dying to be Worn

Sea otters have the misfortune to be born with plush pelts boasting up to one million hairs per square inch. Hunters prized their skins as “blacker, thicker, and glossier” than their cousins: the beaver and land otter.  When fashion dictated the Manchu nobles of the Chinese Qing dynasty (1644-1912) dress in sea otter skins, the animals’ demise wasContinue reading “Sea Otters: Dying to be Worn”


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