Tag Archives: Elmira


During Term III, as part of the “Introduction to Archaeology” course, 12 students under my direction excavated the area on Quarry Farm where there are remains of a chimney. The chimney is located about 100 yards west of the cistern against the quarry wall, next to which the Mark Twain Study was originally located. First the area was cleaned. Surface finds during cleaning included many glass shards, window glass and nails. After cleaning, three 1 m. square test trenches were Read more…


The Center for Mark Twain Studies is a pivotal partner in an ongoing research project that will culminate at the 8th International State of Mark Twain Studies Conference in August, following a lecture and exhibit in Rouen, France, in June. Did you know that at different times, Clemens acquired, read, and heavily annotated a number of authorities that he later acknowledged in a list at the beginning of his historical novel Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc? And that a Read more…


In marking the beginning of Black History Month the other day, President Donald Trump commended Frederick Douglass as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.” Quibbles over the President’s use of the present tense aside, most would agree that Douglass did in fact accomplish something amazing in escaping slavery to become a leading abolitionist and visionary social reformer/statesman during a turbulent time in our nation’s history, and whose powerful, Read more…


Mark Twain described his Autobiography as an “apparently systemless system…a complete and purposed jumble,” and so it is, though it is not wholly without method. Over the course of its composition Twain relied heavily on a biography begun by his daughter, Susy Clemens, when she was just thirteen. Twain would copy a selection from “Susy’s Biography” then expound upon the events and episodes sparsely described therein. This ritual provoked both humor – the celebrated septuagenarian writer debating the details of his Read more…


Quarry Farm’s only year-round resident, Caretaker Steve Webb, provides us with occasional, not altogether reliable, updates from the premises. To paraphrase the friendly ghost with whom he shares his home, Mr. Webb’s dispatches include eminently plausible fictions, mildly exaggerated truths, and an exhaustless mine of stupendous lies. The breeze pushed through the window screen just hard enough to float the curtains away from the wall and split them a few inches to reveal the blue sky. There was a trace of Read more…


Thomas K. Beecher manuscript for Olivia Susan Clemens’s memorial service

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