Black North Dakotans were something of a rarity in 1914 when young Era Bell and her family moved to a farm near the small community of Driscoll. In fact, when the Thompsons traveled thirty miles to join two other black families for the Christmas dinner, "there were fifteen of us, four percent of the state's entire Negro population."
In this lively autobiography, Thompson describes the experiences of her North Dakota girlhood: busting broncos with her brothers; making friends with Norwegian and German neighbors; meeting Governor Lynn J. Frazier, for whom her father worked as a personal messenger; running footraces at picnics (and knowing that people were betting on her to win); selling used furniture in Mandan; working her way through college in Grand Forks; and facing prejudice without the support of a large black community. She also discusses the impact of her North Dakota background on her later adventures in St. Paul and Chicago.
After the original publication of American Daughter in 1946, Thompson became associate editor of Ebony magazine, then newly established by Johnson Publishing Company. She was Ebony's co-managing editor from 1951 to 1964, when she became international editor for Johnson Publishing, a position she still held into semiretirement until her death in 1986.