CMTS 2018 Strategic Plan

Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2018

Introduction

Strategic planning has become a successful tool for the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS).   Strategic management helps CMTS cultivate a continuing commitment to its mission and vision, promotes a culture that establishes and supports the mission from all meaningful stakeholders, and encourages a focus on the annual agenda by means of a transparent decision-making process.  The annual strategic plan allows the staff of CMTS to identify and respond to its most fundamental and immediate issues, and develop strategies for fostering fiscally sustainable growth in moving CMTS toward being a leading internationally recognized academic center.  Finally, the CMTS strategic planning process fosters proactive discussion and formulation of action plans by all staff members, both within their spheres of influence and within the organization as a whole.

Mark Twain on the Quarry Farm Porch (1903)

The 2017 annual cycle was a successful one, in no small part to the strategic planning decision-making process.  The “Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2017,” made available to the general public on CMTS’s website, helped expedite a number of important accomplishments. Some highlights include:

  • Facilitation of Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies (August 3-5, 2017).  This conference has grown to become the largest gathering of Twain scholars from around the world and featured more than 50 scholarly papers and 7 special events. Scholars from England, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Bangladesh, Japan and all corners of the United States gathered to discuss all aspects of Mark Twain Studies.
  • Dramatic growth of MarkTwainStudies.org: over 75,000 visitors accessed the site since its launch in October 2016.  CMTS has also created impressive online content, free to the general public, including a virtual tour of Quarry Farm, downloadable past    and current lectures on a variety of Twain-related topics, resources for teachers and students, and a weekly updated blog focusing on current issues related to Mark Twain Studies.
  • Permission to create a digital edition of David Fears’s massive multi-volume Mark Twain Day By Day.  Fears has given permission to CMTS to build a fully searchable, linkable, metadata-rich, updated electronic version of this seminal research work, previously found mostly in the libraries of large research institutions.
  • Designation of Quarry Farm as a New York State Literary Landmark by the Empire State Center for the book, an affiliate of the United States Library Congress.
  • Successfully securing over $425,000 from the United States Mint Mark Twain Commemorative Program.  The entirety of the money has been placed in an endowed fund.  Interest drawn from the fund will be used to address a variety of     CMTS needs and projects.
  • Acquisition of $45,150 from the New York State Department of Parks Recreation, and Historic Preservation for the completion of a historical structures report for Quarry
  • Formalization of the Quarry Farm Fellowship application process that encourages a more diverse pool of applicants, including graduate students, non-tenured faculty, and traditionally underrepresented groups to the Quarry Farm Fellowships.
  • Completion of finding aids for the entirety of the Mark Twain Archive collection. Additionally, 135 photographs and letters from the Archive have been contributed to the New York Heritage digital repository as well as an important regional Mark Twain scholarly resource, the Mark Twain Society Bulletin, a twenty volume, Elmira based publication.
  • Facilitation of eleven “Trouble Begins” and “Park Church” lectures, which are open to the general public at no charge, and are made available on the website to the entire online community
  • Facilitation of over a dozen school field trips to Quarry Farm; and the continuation of the annual Summer Teachers’ Institute for local school teachers interested in incorporating Mark Twain and his literature more successfully into their

The staff of CMTS wishes to follow up and continue last year’s success. The CMTS Strategic Planning Committee includes:

  • Nathaniel Ball, Archivist and Curator of the Elmira College Mark Twain Archives
  • Patricia Cordell, Academic Secretary
  • Jan Kather, Professor of Fine Arts
  • Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies
  • Charles Mitchell, Provost
  • Matthew Seybold, Assistant Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies
  • Steven Webb, Quarry Farm Caretaker

The Strategic Planning Committee produced a draft of the strategic plan for adoption by:

  • Charles Lindsay, President of Elmira College
  • Charles Mitchell, Provost of Elmira College and Professor of American Studies

Any questions about the CMTS 2018 Strategic Plan should be directed to Dr. Joseph Lemak (jle[email protected])

Vision Statement

The Center for Mark Twain Studies strives to renew and deepen its identity as a scholarly center for Mark Twain Studies and any and all related academic disciplines with the goal of becoming one of the best academic centers in the country.

To achieve this vision, the Center for Mark Twain Studies must harness its great energy and talents, inspire its supporters, and most importantly, exercise the collective imaginations of the greater Mark Twain community to build and maintain an even better Center for Mark Twain Studies for its current constituents and future generations.

Mission Statement

The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) is dedicated to fostering and supporting scholarship and pedagogy related to all aspects of Mark Twain.  The primary purpose of the CMTS is to serve an international community of scholars and educators.  The responsibilities of CMTS also include oversight of two historic landmarks: Quarry Farm, which has been designated as a scholar’s retreat, and the Mark Twain Study, now located on the Elmira College campus.  Starting in 1871 and for over twenty consecutive summers, Twain came to Quarry Farm and worked in his octagonal Study.  It is here that the author wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important works, signifying his most productive and most successfully creative time of his life.

In addition, CMTS closely collaborates with the Elmira College Mark Twain Archive, the home of primary and secondary sources dedicated to Twain and his circle.  CMTS also seeks to enrich local and regional community members and organizations by promoting and preserving the legacy of Twain and his deep connection to Elmira.  CMTS fulfills its mission through the facilitation and sponsorship of academic research fellowships and a number of scholarly events, including educational field trips, lectures, teaching institutes, symposia, and the quadrennial International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the world’s largest scholarly conference focusing on Mark Twain.

Local school group visiting the Mark Twain Study on the Elmira College Campus

Organizational History

The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is known and respected world-wide as one of the premier sites for the research and study of Mark Twain.  CMTS was established in 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College from Mark Twain’s great-grandnephew, Jervis Langdon, Jr.  This gift followed a long tradition of associations with Elmira College that began with Mark Twain’s father-in-law, the first Jervis Langdon.

A prominent business man, Jervis Langdon was one of the seven-member “Building and Executive Committee,” a group of progressive civic leaders, who in 1853 began to formulate the plans for Elmira Female College – the first college in the nation founded for women to offer a course of study and a degree equal to that earned by men.  Jervis Langdon was later appointed to the first Elmira College Board of Trustees, a position he held until his death in August 1870.

Beginning in 1870, and continuing for over twenty years, at the prime of his creative life, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, writing as Mark Twain, summered at Quarry Farm, the home of Susan and Theodore Crane.  Susan Crane was Clemens’s wife’s sister.  Each year, the Clemens family members divided their time between their own home in Hartford, Connecticut, and Quarry Farm in Elmira.  Life in Hartford was happy, hectic, and very social.  In Elmira, life was slower.  At Quarry Farm the family was more isolated and away from distractions.  The environment proved to be conducive to relaxation where Clemens could concentrate on his writings.

In 1874, after Mark Twain had already successfully published his best sellers, The Innocents Abroad (1869) and Roughing It (1872), Susan and Theodore Crane surprised him with a small octagonal study.  The Study was built on a secluded high knoll, one hundred yards from the main house at Quarry Farm.  There, over the course of twenty summers, Mark Twain wrote many of his best works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), A Tramp Abroad (1880), The Prince and The Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889).  A number of important short stories and essays were also inspired and composed at Quarry Farm, including “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It,” a short story recounting the life of ex-slave Mary Ann Cord, who was the housekeeper at Quarry Farm.  The dialogue in this story contained the first instance of an American author using an African-American dialect in a non-comedic way.  The Clemens family spent its last summer at Quarry Farm in 1903.  Mark Twain spent the rest of his life abroad and in various places in the United States until his death on April 21, 1910.  He was buried in the Langdon plot in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery.

In 1952, Twain’s niece, Dr. Ida Langdon, a professor of English at Elmira College, presented Twain’s Study to Elmira College.  It was then relocated from Quarry Farm to the heart of the Elmira College campus.

In 1983, Jervis Langdon, Jr., the great-grandnephew of Twain, donated Quarry Farm to Elmira College.  In a document entitled “The Four Party Agreement,” Jervis Langdon, Jr. bequeathed Quarry Farm to Elmira College with two basic purposes: first, “to assure that Quarry Farm, as a residence, will be properly maintained and preserved, and the grounds included in the donation will be cared for and protected, including the trees, lawns, shrubbery, flowers, and wild life;” and second, “to have the residence at Quarry Farm available as a Center for the Study of Mark Twain and as a temporary home for such members of the faculty of the College, visiting scholars, and graduate students as may be designated, from time to time, by the President of the College, because of their interest in Mark Twain, his works, his philosophy, and the environment in which he lived.”[1]  These words created the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies.  While Jervis Langdon, Jr. and Elmira College constituted the two primary members of “The Four Party Agreement,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Chemung County Historical Society rounded out the other two.  It became the responsibility of these two secondary organizations to assure that Elmira College carry out Jervis Langdon, Jr.’s intentions.  As a result, Elmira College must submit an annual preservation report to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in conjunction with the Chemung County Historical Society.

Jervis Langdon Jr.’s gift of Quarry Farm included the contents of the main house with many nineteenth-century association pieces of furniture and other treasures, such as the books in the Quarry Farm library that often reflect the reading habits of an erudite family.  Of particular interest are the books from the Langdon and Crane collections that were read by Mark Twain.  Numerous annotations, often dated and written in pencil by Mark Twain, have been discovered in the margins of many of these books.  Furthermore, Twain scholars continue to be struck by the Quarry Farm setting, still peaceful and conducive to relaxation and to work, with a view of the surrounding hills, the Chemung River, and the city of Elmira below, much like it must have been almost one hundred and fifty years ago.

Honoring Jervis Langdon, Jr’s vision, Quarry Farm offers Fellowships-in-Residence to scholars pursuing research or writing in the field of Mark Twain Studies.  As one of the most important literary landmarks in American history, Quarry Farm is also a working scholar’s retreat with an updated, well-equipped work space for scholars and artists.  Quarry Farm Fellows have access to a nearly complete reference collection on the premises, including the complete Oxford Mark Twain facsimile edition and Mark Twain Project publications as well as up-to-date secondary and reference works dedicated to Mark Twain Studies.  Additionally, Quarry Farm Fellows have access to a fine collection of secondary scholarly material shelved on the premises including the comprehensive Michael J. Kiskis Collection, and other scholarly collections.

In addition to the Quarry Farm fellowships, the Barn and the grounds at Quarry Farm are used for several academic programs, including annual symposia on a wide variety of specific Mark Twain Studies topics, workshops for teachers who wish to incorporate Mark Twain into their curriculum, “The Trouble Begins” spring and fall lecture series, and dozens of school field trips every year.  The lectures and field trips are offered free of charge to the schools and general public. While the main house at Quarry Farm is reserved as a home for visiting Mark Twain scholars, the nineteenth century barn and nearby housekeeper’s cottage have been adapted for program use and serve as classrooms and lecture space.

Finally, CMTS houses the lion share of Twain material in the Mark Twain Archive on the Elmira College campus.  In conjunction with CMTS, the Mark Twain Archive affords scholars the uniquely rewarding experience of ready access to a collection of primary and secondary sources on Twain.  In addition to various editions of Twain’s works, the Mark Twain Archive collection includes photographs, books from Twain’s personal library and the library at Quarry Farm, books and articles written about him, and microfilm letters and manuscripts from the Mark Twain collections at the Bancroft library in Berkeley, the Mark Twain Memorial in Hartford, Vassar College, and the Huntington Library.  Through the generosity of donors over the years, the collection has also a fine collection of Mark Twain titles in languages other than English, the Love Collection of framed photographs and autographs, correspondence between Twain and members of his Elmira circle, such as E.M. Van Aken, Dr. Frank Darby, and Julia Jones Beecher, letters written by Twain at the end of his life, and other photographs and memorabilia that add greatly to the scope and interest of the collection.  The Mark Twain Archive itself contains period furnishings, rich woodwork, and marble accents from Klapproth’s Tavern, an establishment which Twain was known to frequent during his summers in Elmira.  The Mark Twain Archive is available to anyone with a research need that can be served by the collection.

[1] “The Four Party Agreement Regarding Quarry Farm, Elmira, N.Y.,” December 31, 1982. Legal Contract involving Jervis Langdon, Jr., Elmira College, The National Historic Trust, and Chemung County Historical Society, (1983): 2-3

Program Cover for Elmira 2017: The Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies (August 3-5, 2017)

Staff Biographies

Nathaniel Ball joined the Elmira College faculty in July 2015 after working for Truman State University and the Adirondack Museum.  He holds a Master’s degree in Library & Information Science from Kent State University.  Nathaniel is the sole archivist for the voluminous Twain-related collections housed in the Mark Twain Archive housed on the Elmira College campus, as well as the Special Collections Librarian at Gannett-Tripp Library and the curator of Elmira College’s extensive art collection.

Patricia Cordell retired from a 29-year career with the US Air Force and joined the Elmira College administrative staff in 2014 and CMTS in September 2015.  She assists the Director of CMTS with all financial and budgetary concerns, as well as other essential operational duties.

Jan Kather has provided photographic and media support for CMTS since Quarry Farm was given to Elmira College in 1983.  She began teaching darkroom photography at the College in September 1979 and has since expanded course offerings to include Video Art I, Electronic Art Studio, and Digital Studio Art: Art Without Borders.

Joseph Lemak became the Director of CMTS in January 2016.  He served Elmira College in various roles for over seventeen years, most recently as Director of the Academic Writing Program and the Writing Center.  Joe holds a Ph.D. in Classics from University at Buffalo. He organizes all CMTS lecture series, the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposia, the quadrennial International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the Summer Teachers’ Institute, and the Quarry Farm Fellowships.  Joe oversees all financial and budgetary matters and the preservation and maintenance of the Mark Twain Study and Quarry Farm.

Matthew Seybold joined the Elmira College faculty in July 2015.  He earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine in 2012, after which he worked at The University of Alabama.  He teaches courses on all periods of American Literature, as well as interdisciplinary courses on mass media and economics.  Matt is also the editor-in-chief of MarkTwainStudies.org, the official website of CMTS.

Steve Webb has been the resident caretaker at Quarry Farm since the winter of 2013.  Steve is an experienced landscaper and repairman with an Associate degree in Environmental Science from Finger Lakes Community College, as well as a talented composer and musician.

Foundation and Corporate Sponsors 

(in alphabetical order)

Darby Petrie FundThe largest restricted fund for CMTS.  CMTS draws interest annually.  This fund is primarily used to defray the annual salaries of the CMTS staff.

Elmira CollegeElmira College supports CMTS in a myriad of ways, including, but not limited to, office space, marketing, branding, library services, and internet access.  All of these services are at no cost to CMTS.

Friends of the Center for Mark Twain StudiesThe donation membership list for CMTS. Many members donate annually.  The majority of donations come from an annual appeal in December or January.

Lilly Broadcasting WENY TVA local, upstate New York television media group.  This media outlet purchases books written by Mark Twain to support CMTS’s “Mark Twain Literacy Project.

Mark Twain FoundationAnnual support from the Mark Twain Foundation provides the major funding to support the activities of CMTS. This is largest and most consistent source of funding for CMTS.

U.S. Mint Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Fund – A restricted fund for CMTS.  CMTS draws interest annually from the 2016 U.S. Mint Commemorative Mark Twain Coin program. The majority of this fund is used to support Quarry Farm preservation and scholarly production at Quarry Farm.

Additional Miscellaneous FundsSmall funds in memory of deceased individuals draw annual interest to support the Center for Mark Twain Studies, including the Darryl Baskin Fund, the Claude Brinegar Fund, the Class of ’34 Fund, and the Michael J. Kiskis Fund.

Mark Twain and John T. Lewis, friend and neighbor, on the Quarry Farm Porch (1903)

Strategic Goals

Reflecting its vision and mission statement, the Center for Mark Twain Studies has established the following strategic goals:

  1. Enhance and sustain service to all constituents of CMTS
    1. Scholarly community
    2. Internet community
    3. Local and regional community
    4. Elmira College community
  2. Increase the quality and quantity of scholarly production associated with Quarry Farm
  3. Enhance and sustain the services and materials offered by the Mark Twain Archive to the academic community
  4. Preserve the historical infrastructure of Quarry Farm, the Study, the Exhibit, and the Archives
  5. Increase financial sustainability to help and support CMTS’ mission and strategic goals

A1. Enhance and sustain services for the scholarly community

Reflecting its mission, service to the scholarly community is CMTS’ highest priority.  CMTS has a long and successful history of hosting successful academic symposia and conferences. In fact, the quadrennial International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies is the largest Mark Twain conference in the world.  CMTS endeavors to continue this legacy of success.

Furthermore, CMTS is proud to continue the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS funds scholars from all around the world to stay at Quarry Farm. One of the most important literary landmarks in American history, Quarry Farm is also a working scholar’s retreat with an updated, well-equipped work space for scholars and artists. The fellowship not only supports senior scholars, but also graduate students and scholars with newly-minted doctoral degrees, ensuring the continuation and rejuvenation of Mark Twain as a central figure in American literature and the field of the Humanities.

At the same time, the new website and the relatively new academic emphasis on digital humanities in offers fresh, innovative ways to serve the Mark Twain Studies scholarly community.  CMTS has recently acquired the permission from David Fears, the author of the seminal reference work Mark Twain Day By Day, to display his reference volumes on the CMTS website.  Since this important reference is not available at most libraries, it will have a profound effect on the everyday research methodology for most Twain scholars and enthusiasts.  CMTS will create the Mark Twain Day By Day project, turning the print work into a searchable, linkable, and updatable online platform.

Another highlight for 2018 will be the Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age.” CMTS anticipates a vibrant and inventive panel of scholars who will be invited to submit expanded versions of their papers for inclusion in a special issue of American Literary History being prepared for 2019.

Finally, CMTS continues its efforts to support graduate students interested in Mark Twain Studies by funding qualified graduate students at specific academic conferences, including the American Humor Association Conference and the Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium in 2018 and the Hannibal Quadrennial Conference in 2019.

New Initiatives

Tactic #A1.1 – Continue (or finish) the Mark Twain Day By Day project

Tactic #A1.2 – Create an editorial committee for the Mark Twain Day By Day project

Tactic #A1.3 – Expand and revise the Quarry Farm Fellowship Selection Committee

Tactic #A1.4 – Facilitate the Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age”

Tactic #A1.5 – Fund qualified graduate students to the American Humor Association Conference and the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium

Tactic #A1.6 – Explore the idea of a graduate student writer’s workshop at Quarry Farm

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #A1.7 – Continue the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program

Tactic #A1.8 – Continue adding all lectures to the “Trouble Begins” digital archives

View of the Chemung River Valley and the hills of Northern Pennsylvania from the Quarry Farm Porch

A2. Enhance and sustain services for the web community

When MarkTwainStudies.org was first proposed to the upper administration of Elmira College in 2015, it was predicted that, within the first two years, the site would be on the first page of Google results related to “mark twain,” would provide a statistically-significant increase of traffic to Elmira College-related domains, create career-oriented extracurricular and/or internship opportunities for Elmira College students, and provide an accessible complement to the Elmira College brand which attracts attention and support from media, donors, and corporate sponsors. Slightly over one-year after launching the site, all but one of the above goals have been reached.

MarkTwainStudies.org closed the first full year on a high note. December was the second-best month thus far, with 7,000 visits. The site attracted 70,000 visitors in 2017. It topped 4,500 in each of the last seven months, so traffic has found a consistent benchmark, which is more or less independent of whether the content CMTS produces in any given month happens to harness the power of social media. As a result, the more content CMTS creates, the higher this benchmark will get, as much of the content is not dependent on current topics or recent trends.

The CMTS Facebook page, which primarily posts content from MarkTwainStudies.org, has over 900 followers and posts are frequently shared by organizations like Vintage Doubleday, whose followers number in the millions. Content from the website has been linked to by major outlets like the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, AOL.com, and Google News, as well as local media like the Star Gazette and WENY, and numerous blogs, social media accounts, and message boards. Visitors linked in from more than 100 separate domains in 2017 alone.   

The site has not yet risen to the top page of Google results for “mark twain,” but the proportion of traffic driven by search engines has increased consistently, and MarkTwainStudies.org is the top result for many Twain-related searches, including “mark twain studies,” “mark twain apocrypha,” “mark twain center,” etc. Part of the budget ear-marked for MarkTwainStudies.org in 2018 will be dedicated to a Google AdWords campaign.

Among the most pleasant surprises is how quickly this site has been embraced by the Mark Twain Studies community. 22 people unassociated with Elmira College contributed content this year, including some of the biggest names in Twain Studies and international scholars from France, Japan, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. In coming years, perhaps in tandem with clarifying CMTS’ relationship to Mark Twain Journal,  MarkTwainStudies.org could become a kind of “digital journal” which Twain Scholars view as having sufficient “prestige” to warrant submitting some of their best work.

Many of the most successful projects of the past year, including the Quarry Farm Virtual Tour and the acquisition of Mark Twain Day-By-Day, were not premeditated, but came by virtue of CMTS’s increased online visibility. At the same time, the CMTS staff have proactively created much content, including a list of the most important on-line Mark Twain Studies resources, a compendium of resources for teachers and students, and a growing collection of downloadable lectures from the “Trouble Begins Lectures” and “Park Church Summer Lectures” series. All of these resources are completely free and available to the general public.

CMTS has been bombarded with suggestions and opportunities for expanding the utility of the website for scholars, students, teachers, and hobbyists. The challenge for the foreseeable future will be prioritizing which projects represent the most value in light of the limited time and technical skills of CMTS staff. The initiatives summarized in the list below are a combination of large-scale projects justified by their evident value to Mark Twain Studies; small-scale projects which mobilize the skills and interests of our student interns and potentially foster increased involvement from various campus constituencies; the digitization of existing archival materials; and projects related to the design, organization, and function of a website platform that is meant to expand and evolve systemically in order to meet the demands of future online projects.

New Initiatives

Tactic #A2.1 – Redesign and launch updated website

Tactic #A2.2 – Continue creating (or finish) Mark Twain Day By Day project

Tactic #A2.3 – Create basic information content concerning Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira

Tactic #A2.4 – Expand Quarry Farm virtual tour with “points of interest”

Tactic #A2.5 – Create interactive maps of Mark Twain’s Elmira and Woodlawn Cemetery

Tactic #A2.6 – Incorporate Mark Twain Archive databases into website

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #A2.7 – Continue to post 1-2 times per week

Tactic #A2.8 – Continue to elevate CMTS website to top page of Google results for “Mark Twain”

A3. Enhance and sustain services for the local and regional community

CMTS is well known for serving the local and regional community, mainly through the spring and fall “Trouble Begins” lecture series, the “Park Church Summer Lectures” series, and service to local schools.  Between both lecture series, CMTS offers ten to twelve high-quality talks from top scholars in the field of Mark Twain Studies to the general public for free.  Furthermore, CMTS hosts dozens of local field trips for students as they delve into the work of one of America’s greatest literary figures at no cost to the schools.  Other highlights of local regional service include the Mark Twain Literary Project, a partnership with WENY-TV, a local television station, which provides students and teachers free books written by Mark Twain for use in the classroom; the annual Summer Teachers’ Institute, a workshop led by visiting scholars who are experts in the field of Mark Twain Studies, for teachers interested in better integrating Twain and his literature into their curricula; and the creation of online teaching resources, specifically aimed at supporting Mark Twain Studies curricula in the classroom.

New Initiatives

Tactic #A3.1 – Create and launch the “Quarry Farm Fireplace Tiles Contest”

Tactic #A3.2 – Revamp the Mark Twain Summer Teachers’ Institute with Matthew Seybold as lead curriculum organizer for Summer 2019

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #A3.3 – Facilitate the Spring and Fall “Trouble Begins” lecture series and the Park Church Summer Lecture Series

Tactic #A3.4 – Continue to host school field trips to Quarry Farm and Study

Tactic #A3.5 – Continue to the Mark Twain Literacy Project

Tactic #A3.6 – Facilitate the 2018 Mark Twain Summer Teachers’ Institute

Archaeological dig on the grounds of Quarry Farm conducted by Elmira College students (2017)

A4. Enhance and sustain services for the Elmira College community

Attempts at implementing the study of literature and history of Mark Twain in Elmira College’s general education program have been unsuccessful in the past (ex. Mark Twain writing assignment in the Academic Writing Program).  These attempts usually targeted the entire incoming freshman class, requiring them to work on and complete a specific assignment at the same time.  While there is some merit in exposing freshman students to the legacy of Mark Twain and Elmira College, the assignment was usually met with resentment by both the students and instructors.  The following action steps look to expose Mark Twain Studies to Elmira College students and faculty in ways that are not required, but optional.  The strategy is to incorporate a more “grassroots” approach, in hopes of creating and fostering a student culture which finds CMTS as a valuable resource for its own liberal arts education and potential career goals.

While the “grassroots” approach does not reach as many students as before, the quality of educational experience for students involved with CMTS is dramatically more rewarding.  In 2017, while Mark Twain Studies was successfully taught in American literature courses, a number of less traditional academic courses used the resources associated with Quarry Farm including an “Introduction to Archaeology” course and a “Drawing and Painting from Nature.”  Furthermore, a number of Elmira College students submitted their papers and creative works to the two annual contests sponsored by CMTS: the “Mark Twain Essay Contest” and the “Portraying Mark Twain Art Competition.”  It must be noted that a number of images created by Elmira College art students have been prominently displayed in 2017 on conference programs and promotional materials.

CMTS will continue this approach as more and more Elmira College faculty and students engage with CMTS in meaningful ways.  For example, in 2018 CMTS will reach out to select scholars at Quarry Farm and ask them to speak to students within the Elmira College Honors Program about topics that pique the scholar’s interest.  This type of interaction between the scholar and a small number of engaged, interested students will surely be beneficial to both sides.

New Initiatives

Tactic #A4.1 – Create a visiting scholars program with the EC Honors Program

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #A4.2 – Fill the position of CMTS student intern

Tactic #A4.3 – Facilitate the “Mark Twain Writing Contest” and the “Mark Twain Creative Arts Contest” for EC students

Tactic #A4.4 – Enlist EC students to help create images for publication and major events

Tactic #A4.5 – Facilitate four “Trouble Begins” lectures on the EC campus

Mark Twain working in The Study (around 1885)

B. Increase the quality and quantity of scholarly production associated with Quarry Farm

At the heart of CMTS’ mission is Quarry Farm and the Quarry Farm Fellowships.  Quarry Farm is unique.  It is an important literary landmark and a living, occupied house.  The occupants of Quarry Farm are the Twain scholars who live there for extended periods of time (mostly one week to one month), as envisioned by Jervis Langdon, Jr. when he donated Quarry Farm to Elmira College in 1983.  CMTS’ goal is to improve the scholarly work amenities, both direct (lights, desks, chairs, computers) and indirect (kitchen amenities and sleeping amenities). CMTS’ goal is to encourage a more diverse pool of applicants, and resulting occupants, for the Quarry Farm Fellowships, paying special attention to gender and ethnicity.  Furthermore, additional attention has been placed on new scholars who are about to or have just successfully completed their doctoral requirements.

Furthermore, CMTS will continue its academic programming at Quarry Farm in 2018, such as the annual Quarry Farm Weekend Symposia and the “Trouble Begins” lecture series.  These scholarly events are unlike anything else, both in their consistent focus on a single author, and the depth of knowledge and variety of expertise the lecturers bring to the topic. In many cases CMTS lecturers use these events to present cutting-edge works-in-progress or to explore idiosyncratic ideas which may not otherwise find a venue.

New Initiatives

Tactic #B.1 – Facilitate the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age”

Tactic #B.2 – Explore the idea of a graduate student writer’s workshop at Quarry Farm

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #B.3 – Continue the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program

Tactic #B.4 – Advertise the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program online, at academic conferences, and in selected academic journals

Tactic #B.5 – Facilitate the “Trouble Begins” and “Park Church” lecture series

The Reading Room of the Mark Twain Archive

C. Enhance and sustain the services and materials offered by the Mark Twain Archive to the academic community

In support of the missions of both the Gannett-Tripp Library and the Center for Mark Twain Studies, the Mark Twain Archive is dedicated to supporting scholarship and pedagogy related to Mark Twain.  The Mark Twain Archive serves as a repository of primary and secondary source materials related to Mark Twain and Mark Twain scholarship with particular focus on Mark Twain’s association with Elmira and his Elmira circle of family and friends.  The Mark Twain Archive collects, appraises, organizes, describes, preserves and makes available its records to advance scholarship in the field of Mark Twain Studies and provides research support and instructional services to the campus community, the Twain scholarly community and the general public.  The proposed initiatives demonstrate the commitment of the Archive to enhance research and access services.

In 2017, the Archive completed several projects towards its stated goals. The completion of finding aids for the entirety of the collection is the principle achievement.  Additionally, 135 photographs and letters from the Archive have been contributed to the New York Heritage digital repository as well as an important regional Mark Twain scholarly resource, the Mark Twain Society Bulletin, a twenty volume, Elmira based publication.

New Initiatives

Tactic #C.1 – Complete digitization of primary sources

Tactic #C.2 – Transfer all databases to MarkTwainStudies.org

Tactic #C.3 – Complete cataloging items and finish Finding Aids for all collections held by the Archive

Tactic #C.4 – Make plan and budget for updating the Mark Twain Exhibit in Cowles Hall

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #C.5 – Continue to evaluate and address preservation concerns of items and collections on campus and all historic infrastructure under CMTS supervision

D. Preserve the historical infrastructure of Quarry Farm, the Study, the Exhibit, and the Mark Twain Archive

Due to the historic importance of Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Study as National Historic Landmarks, it is essential that CMTS take a proactive approach to their preservation and maintenance.  The strategic planning decision making process is ideal for helping CMTS allocate funds, calculate the costs of upcoming projects, and proactively anticipate needs.

In 2017 CMTS was awarded a $45,150 grant from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Funds from this grant will go to the acquisition of a historical structures report for Quarry Farm that will provide documentary, graphic, and physical information about the property’s history and existing conditions. It will provide a thoughtfully considered argument for selecting the most appropriate approach to treatment and outlines a scope of recommended work. The report will serve as an important guide for all changes that should be made to the historic property and provides information for maintenance procedures. It will offer a thoughtfully considered argument for selecting the most appropriate approach to treatment, prior to the commencement of work, and outline a scope of recommended work. The report will serve as an important guide for all changes made to a historic property during a project-repair, rehabilitation, or restoration, and will also provide information for maintenance procedures.

The Mark Twain Study, Then and Now

New Initiatives

Tactic #D.1 – Complete the Quarry Farm historical structures report

Tactic #D.2 – Establish a Quarry Farm furniture policy for all residents

Tactic #D.3 – Acquire funding for a historical structures report for the Mark Twain Study

Tactic #D.4 – Acquire estimate for repairing ceiling in first floor library at Quarry Farm

Tactic #D.5 – Update/replace sink, toilet, and shower drain in bathroom located off the Twain bedroom at Quarry Farm

Tactic #D.6 – Fix leak within chimney over backstairs at Quarry Farm

Tactic #D.7 – Upgrade large flower bed on the south side of the main house at Quarry Farm

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #D.8 – Continue to evaluate and address daily preservation and maintenance concerns for all historical infrastructure under CMTS supervision

Tactic #D.9 – Submit annual Quarry Farm Conditions Report to Chemung County Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Tactic #D.10 – Seek out and apply for grants focusing on the preservation of historical infrastructure under CMTS supervision

 E. Increase financial sustainability to support CMTS’ mission and strategic goals

Due to generous support from the Mark Twain Foundation and individual donations from private supporters, CTMS is in a good financial situation.  However, with large projects looming such as Quarry Farm preservation projects, the Mark Twain Day By Day on-line project, and the digitization of the Mark Twain Archives, while still preserving the Quarry Farm Fellowships and all the other customary annual programming (lectures, field trips, symposia, teachers’ institutes, et cetera), CMTS will have to reexamine its current financial situation in order to help foster this positive growth and perhaps explore new ways to secure to donations.  CMTS will need to continue its most helpful relationship with the Mark Twain Foundation and individual donors, while at the same time, aggressively look for grants associated with historic building preservation and digital humanities.

In 2016, the U.S. Mint issued $5 gold and $1 silver Mark Twain commemorative coins.  Surcharges from the sale of the coins were authorized to four Twain heritage sites: the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies; The Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.  In 2017, CMTS was pleased to announce that it has received its portion of the surcharge amount, totaling over $425,000.  The entirety of this money has been placed in an endowed fund.  Interest drawn from this fund will support CMTS programming which includes, but is not limited to, supporting Mark Twain scholars, hosting school field trips to Quarry Farm, facilitating public Twain lectures throughout the year, and creating meaningful online educational content available to schools and teachers for use in the classroom at no expense.

Another 2017 bright spot was that the New York State Regional Economic Development Council awarded CMTS $45,150 for the completion of a historical structures report.  The report will be an important long-term guide for the preservation of Quarry Farm and will allow CMTS to be in a much more advantageous position to secure sizeable grants focused on large-scale preservation projects.

New Initiatives

Tactic #E.1 – Revamp online donation system via “MailChimp”

Tactic #E.2 – Establish grant writing plan for Quarry Farm preservation

Tactic #E.3 – Write grant offered by Preservation League of New York State for a historical structure report for the Mark Twain Study

Annual Customary Operations

Tactic #E.4 – Complete annual report to the Mark Twain Foundation

Tactic #E.5 – Complete the Dear Friends Annual Appeal

Tactic #E.6 – Find and/or write grants for the maintenance and preservation of all historic infrastructure under CMTS supervision, the CMTS website, and digitization projects in the Archive

 

CLICK HERE FOR A PDF COPY OF THE 2018 CMTS STRATEGIC PLAN