Strategic Plan

Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2021


Introduction

Mark Twain on the Quarry Farm Porch (1903)

Strategic planning is a useful tool for the Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies (CMTS) to assess its past and design its future.  Strategic management helps CMTS cultivate a continuing commitment to its mission and vision, promotes a culture that includes meaningful input from all 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.

The 2020 annual cycle was a successful one, in no small part the result of the strategic planning decision-making process.  The social restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic made all in-person events impossible.  Regardless, CMTS was able to deliver almost all of its annual events, albeit virtually.  The temporary switch to an online environment has encouraged CMTS to adapt to and develop a more robust electronic presence.  The most evident benefit of the change in media delivery has been a considerable increase in constituency members.  Going forward in 2021 and beyond, CMTS will use a more hybrid model for the facilitation and delivery of lectures and events.  This sudden, unexpected, and dramatic change would not have been possible without proactive and sustained strategic planning.  The “Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2020,” helped expedite a number of important accomplishments in a strange year. Key highlights include:

  • Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS hosted and aided the research of five senior and developing scholars and writers from a variety of academic disciplines.  All of these fellows-in-residence had the opportunity to live and work at Quarry Farm for two weeks to a month and take advantage of one of the best libraries dedicated to Mark Twain Studies located on the premises.
  • Facilitation of the Seventh Quarry Farm Symposium.  At this year’s “American Humor and Matters of Empire” symposium several of the papers presented at the virtual two-day event will be published in a special issue of Studies in American Humor, a peer-reviewed academic journal and official publication of the American Humor Studies Association.  The symposium asked eleven scholars working in many disciplinary, historical, and media specialties to engage how imperialism has shaped American comic expression.
  • Completion of a Historic Structure Report of Quarry Farm by Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, historic preservation architects.  This report will be a primary planning document for decision-making regarding Quarry Farm’s preservation and related maintenance decisions.  It prioritizes work to be completed, estimates costs, discusses philosophical issues related to its preservation; lists long-term priorities that should be considered for preserving the main house; includes a set of base drawings for the design of recommended future work; compiles the main building’s architectural history and significance as it relates to the individuals who built, altered and occupied it; illustrates existing conditions, and proposes current and future outlines for work.  It will be used as a major resource for further research and investigation by Mark Twain Studies scholars and others.
  • Launch of CMTS’ own podcast, “The American Vandal Podcast.”  The ten-episode inaugural   season features interviews, panel discussions, lectures, and narrative episodes.  It is a venue not only for discussing new research on Twain, but also the many disciplines he has influenced.  For example, the inaugural season has touched on a wide variety of topics, including stand-up comedy, humor-writing, Civil War history, and Gothic storytelling.
  • Acquisition of the digital rights of David Fears’s seminal reference work Mark Twain Day by Day, allowing CTMS to begin the process of modernizing the delivery of the current online version found on MarkTwainStudies.org.  This will make the online version more   accessible and useful to key audiences.  Since this important reference work is not physically available at most libraries, this project will have a profound effect on the everyday research methodology for Twain scholars and enthusiasts.
  • Facilitation of the 2020 Mark Twain Summer Teacher Institute.  Over seventy-five teachers, librarians, and other educators gathered online to discuss the challenges of working with students how teaching about Mark Twain’s life and literary works can help meet those challenges in a two-day event. The theme of the 2020 workshop was “The New Normal: The Past Speaking to Our Students’ Present.” The Institute was led by Jocelyn Chadwick, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of numerous books on literature and education, as well as a recent president of the National Council of Teachers of English.
  • Painting and refurbishment of the Quarry Farm Barn.  The Barn exterior was painted in a deep red with white trim, following as closely as possible to historic pictures of the Barn.  Large sections of the exterior of the Barn were repaired, along with improving the drainage in important sections.

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

  • David Anderson, Project Manager and Vice-President of Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Architects
  • C. Edward Ashley, Vice-President for Finance and Administration at Elmira College
  • Dr. Lawrence Howe, Mark Twain Circle of America Representative and Professor Emeritus at Roosevelt University
  • Elise Johnson-Schmidt, Principal Architect and Owner of Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Architects
  • Dr. Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies
  • Dr. Charles Mitchell, Professor of American Studies at Elmira College
  • Dr. Matt Seybold, Assistant Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College and Editor-in-Chief of MarkTwainStudies.org
  • Steven Webb, Quarry Farm Caretaker

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

  • Dr. Charles Lindsay, President at Elmira College
  • Dr. Corey Stilts, Provost and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Elmira College

Any questions about the CMTS 2020 Strategic Plan should be directed to Dr. Joseph Lemak ([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.

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


Mission Statement

The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is dedicated to fostering and supporting scholarship and pedagogy related to all aspects of Mark Twain.  The primary purpose of CMTS is to serve an international community of scholars, writers, educators, and artists working in the field of Mark Twain Studies.  CMTS seeks to enrich the broader community by promoting and preserving the legacy of Twain and his deep connection to Elmira.

Fulfillment of the Mission Statement and CMTS Responsibilities

CMTS fulfills its mission through the sponsorship of academic and creative research fellowships-in-residence; the creation of content for MarkTwainStudies.org, the website of CMTS; the oversight of the Mark Twain Archive on the Elmira College campus, and the facilitation of a number of scholarly events, including annual symposia, academic lectures, teaching institutes, and the quadrennial International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, the world’s largest scholarly conference focusing on Mark Twain.

The responsibilities of CMTS include oversight and preservation of two historic landmarks: Quarry Farm, which has been designated a cultural humanities site dedicated to scholars and writers working in Mark Twain Studies, and the Mark Twain Study, now located on the Elmira College campus.  Starting in 1871 and for over twenty consecutive summers, Twain lived at Quarry Farm and worked in his octagonal Study.  It was 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 successfully creative time of his life.


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.  Following a long tradition of associations between Mark Twain, the Langdon family, and Elmira College, CMTS was established in 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College from Samuel Clemens’s great-grandnephew, Jervis Langdon, Jr.

 In 1867, Samuel Langhorne Clemens secured funding from the Alta California newspaper to travel to the Europe and the Middle East and write about his journey. On June 8th, Clemens, who was by then already known by his “Mark Twain” pen name, left New York City aboard a steamship named Quaker City. The series of letters he wrote between then and his return on November 19th, were later immortalized in 1869 as Mark Twain’s first book The Innocents Abroad. This hugely successful work brought Twain fame and fortune, and was the best-selling of his books during his lifetime.

Charles J. Langdon with his children. Image Courtesy of the Mark Twain House and Museum (Hartford, CT.)

This trip was also significant for Samuel Clemens because it was aboard the Quaker City that he met Charles Langdon, the brother of Clemens’ future wife. The Langdons were a wealthy Elmira, New York family, and the eighteen-year-old “Charley” Langdon had been sent by his father Jervis to the Mediterranean in order to gain worldly perspective. Despite the age difference between Charley and the thirty-one-year-old Sam Clemens, the two became friends. One day aboard the Quaker City, Charley Langdon felt compelled by homesickness to show Clemens a miniature portrait of his sister Olivia.

After the Quaker City returned to New York, Charles Langdon introduced Clemens to his father and sister in person. As the story goes, Clemens fell in love with Olivia at that first meeting. Clemens travelled to the West Coast for business soon after, but in August of 1868 followed up on an invitation to visit the Langdon family, arriving in Elmira by train. He was smitten with “Livy,” and, after two botched marriage proposals and hundreds of letters between the couple, Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon were married in Elmira in 1870.

Susan Langdon Crane

 Starting in 1870, at the prime of his creative life, Clemens summered at Quarry Farm, the home of Susan and Theodore Crane in Elmira.  Susan Crane was Olivia’s sister.  Nearly every year, the Clemens family members divided their time between their own home in Hartford, Connecticut, and Quarry Farm.  While 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, creating an environment that was conducive to relaxation and where Twain could concentrate on his writings.  Additionally, Livy could be close to her family.  All three of Twain’s daughters were born in Elmira, two at Quarry Farm.

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 Quarry Farm main house.  In this small structure 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.

Ida Langdon

The Clemens family spent its last summer at Quarry Farm in 1903.  Clemens 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, alongside his wife and four children.  After Twain’s death, the Langdon family took two important steps to help preserve the legacy of Mark Twain.  First, in 1952, Twain’s niece, Dr. Ida Langdon, a professor of English at Elmira College, presented Twain’s Study to Elmira College locating it at the heart of the Elmira College campus where it remains on display for the general public.  It is one of the most well-known literary landmarks in the United States.  Second, 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.”  These words created the 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 and the Chemung County Historical Society.

Jervis Langdon Jr.

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. 

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 cultural humanities site, a building whose sole purpose is to provide inspiration and resources to scholars, writers, and artists working in the field of Mark Twain Studies.  Quarry Farm Fellows have access to twenty-first century workspaces, a nearly complete Mark Twain Studies 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, while at the same time being surrounded by nineteenth century books, furniture, textiles, and painting, almost all of which were present during Twain’s time at Quarry Farm.  Furthermore, Quarry Farm Fellows have access to one of the best collections of secondary scholarly material dedicated to Mark Twain Studies shelved on the premises.

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 curricula, “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 solely for Mark Twain Studies scholars and artists, 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 some of its Twain material in the Mark Twain Archive on the Elmira College campus.  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; secondary source books, articles, and collections related to Mark Twain, his literature, and his circle; 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.

The Center for Mark Twain Studies represents one of four Mark Twain “centers” in the United States that include Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, MO; Twain’s home in Hartford, CT; and the Mark Twain Project in Berkeley, CA.  However, CMTS is unique in its mission to foster and support scholarship and pedagogy related to all aspects of Mark Twain.

[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


Significance of the Quarry Farm Collection

Quarry Farm, on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, remains today much as it did at the time of the donation, containing original 19th century furnishings, artwork, textiles, books, wall finishes, and architectural features and objects that have historic and cultural significance that continue to be unraveled by scholarship.  At the time of the Langdon gift in 1983, Quarry Farm had been owned by four generations of the Langdon family, starting in 1868.  As a result, most of the collection was present when Mark Twain resided at Quarry Farm. The books on the shelves in the library contain marginal notes and markings from Mark Twain with bookplates and inscriptions of the Langdon family, the Crane family, and Ida Langdon, Mark Twain’s niece, who was a longtime professor at Elmira College.  While the collection was established with the original gift, it is not static.  The CMTS continues, on occasion, to receive books bearing the Langdon bookplate or books inscribed by Langdon family members.  Interest in the marginalia and books to which Mark Twain had access has long interested scholars.  A nineteenth century furniture expert, Walter Ritchie, Jr., recently conducted research and produced articles about the furnishings of the Langdon Mansion in downtown Elmira, and established that a number of the Langdon furnishings were moved to Quarry Farm before the home was demolished in 1939.

The collection also contains a number of reference works, first editions, and other rare books which are hard to find outside university libraries and special collections. For many fellows-in-residence, this may be the first time they have had access to such resources. Few scholars at any career stage have the opportunity to peruse such materials at their leisure over the course of several weeks, all without leaving the quiet, private, and picturesque domestic space in which many, starting with Twain himself, have found the ideal conditions for writing.  Current residents share the same spectacular view of the Chemung River Valley as the famous author, his family, and his in-laws.  Many scholars believe that contemplating this view and watching his young daughters play and grow up at Quarry Farm inspired Twain to write about parts of his childhood on the Mississippi River that resulted in the creation Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, America’s most iconic characters of childhood.

The collections at Quarry Farm provide fellows-in-residence the unique opportunity to have full access to a world-selection of primary and secondary sources related to nineteenth century United States literature and history while offering them a unique, and at times inspirational, experiences of living in the same space, and perhaps partaking the same daily routine, as Twain himself.  Between sixteen and twenty scholars are in residence every year, either as Quarry Farm Fellows or contributors to the various CMTS lecture series.  More than half of the residents stay for a period of two weeks or more.  These residents represent a wide range of demographic and disciplinary backgrounds and come from across the country and the globe.

Due to its unique ambiance and ideal writing environment, scholars have a practice of acknowledging Quarry Farm in their publications, often stating that Quarry Farm was as inspirational for them as it was for Twain.  Judith Yaross Lee, author of Twain’s Brand: Humor in Contemporary American Culture (2012, University Press of Mississippi), admits to being at times overwhelmed by “what I found on the shelves in the library at Quarry Farm.” Joseph B. Fulton extends his gratitude when he states “I would like to thank Jervis Langdon, Jr. and his family, whose generosity has done so much for our understanding of Mark Twain” in Mark Twain in the Margins: The Quarry Farm Marginalia and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (2000, University of Alabama Press. Shelley Fisher Fishkin in Lighting Out for The Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain & American Culture (1997, Oxford University Press) calls Quarry Farm a “haven for scholars.”   Paula Harrington and Ronald Jenn point out that “as all scholars know, no better place exists than Clemens’s own family summer home, Quarry Farm in Elmira, New York.  We cannot imagine how we would have completed our book without repeated stays there as fellows-in-residence” in Mark Twain and France (2017, University of Missouri Press). In The Courtship of Mark Twain Olivia Langdon (1996, Cambridge University Press) Susan K. Harris writes that “most important is my debt to Quarry Farm itself.  One of the scholars’ few perks is the occasional chance to actually live in a historical house, and I know that I speak for the Twain community when I say that staying at Quarry Farm has been among the most moving experiences of my life.”

Without a hint of exaggeration, CMTS and Quarry Farm have been acknowledged in scores of book-length publications, most from university presses, along with dozens of peer-reviewed academic articles.  CMTS continues this proud tradition in the present-day with fellows and lecturers already scheduled for 2020.

Testimonials from recent Quarry Farm residents, detailing their time at Quarry Farm and its importance to the scholarly and creative writing community can be found HERE.


Staff Biographies

Dylan Crawford started working for CMTS in 2020.  He came to Elmira College in 2012 when he began his undergraduate degree.  In 2017 he started as a graduate assistant in the Elmira College Information Technology Department as Multimedia and AV Services Specialist.  In 2019 after finishing his Master’s degree, Dylan was hired on full time in the Elmira College IT department as a Client Support Administrator. In 2020 he came the Elmira College IT Manager.

Matthew Goldberg received a B.A. in Anthropology from Muhlenberg College, and went on to archaeological field school through UCLA. After working on several digs, he completed his studies with an M.S. in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University, specializing in vernacular architectural history, interpretation of historic sites and adaptive reuse. He now works for the preservation architecture firm Johnson-Schmidt & Associates in Corning, NY, where he primarily writes historic tax credit applications and national register nominations. In partnership with CMTS, Matthew has been working on the maintenance schedule, emergency plans and historic structure report of the main building and study since 2019.

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, strategic planning, grant writing, fundraising, and the preservation and maintenance of the Mark Twain Study and Quarry Farm.

Charles Mitchell started his career at Elmira College in August 1993.  Over the years he has taught a wide variety of courses in American history and culture, including courses in environmental history, landscape art, and photography, and the social and cultural history of American art and visual culture.  He has published a book on the legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and essays on a variety of topics, including Shakespeare’s responsibility for the most numerous invasive species in the United States.  He lectures regularly on topics relating to public parks, landscape tourism, and the paradoxes and ironies of American attitudes toward nature.  In 2019 he joined the staff of the Center for Mark Twain Studies.

Matt Seybold joined the Elmira College 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.  Upon hiring, Matt made the creation of a digital presence for the Center for Mark Twain Studies his highest priority and, with support from Director Lemak and Dr. Mitchell, oversaw the design and launch of MarkTwainStudies.org in October 2016.  He sees the website as a repository for an evolving range of Twain-related resources, as well as a broader, more democratic means of serving CMTS’ unique mission.

Nina Skinner joined Elmira College in 1999 as an administrative assistant for the Elmira College faculty and CMTS.  In 2007 she was promoted to the Elmira College Finance Office.  Then in 2018, she transferred to the Office of Teacher Education.  In 2019, she returned to CMTS, splitting time between the Office of Teacher Education and 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.  Steve is the direct supervisor of the groundskeepers and cleaning staff at Quarry Farm, as well as the CMTS on-site project manager for all Quarry Farm preservation projects.  He serves as the direct liaison of CMTS to all Quarry Farm residents.









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


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.


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. Preserve the historical infrastructure of Quarry Farm, the Study, the Exhibit, and the Archives
  3. Improve the Quarry Farm experience for all residents
  4. Enhance and sustain the services and materials offered by the Mark Twain Archive to the academic community
  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. 

At the heart of CMTS’ service to scholars is the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS funds national and international scholars to engage in scholarly pursuits at Quarry Farm.  CMTS makes a concerted effort to include graduate students and scholars with new doctoral degrees to ensure the robust future of Mark Twain Studies, ensuring the continuation and rejuvenation of Mark Twain as a central figure in American literature and the field of the Humanities.

Notable Successes of 2020

  • Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS hosted and aided the research of five senior and developing scholars and writers from a variety of academic disciplines.  All of these fellows-in-residence had the opportunity to live and work at Quarry Farm for two weeks to a month and take advantage of one of the best libraries dedicated to Mark Twain Studies located on the premises.
  • Facilitation of the Seventh Quarry Farm Symposium.  At this year’s “American Humor and Matters of Empire” symposium several of the papers presented at the virtual two-day event will be published in a special issue of Studies in American Humor, a peer-reviewed academic journal and official publication of the American Humor Studies Association.  The symposium asked eleven scholars working in many disciplinary, historical, and media specialties to engage how imperialism has shaped American comic expression.
  • Facilitation of eleven online lectures as part of the fall and spring “Trouble Begins” Lecture Series and the Park Church Summer Lecture Series.  All of these lectures were video and/or audio-recorded and made accessible on MarkTwainStudies.org.  CMTS tries to strike a healthy balance between lectures from established, senior scholars and new voices in Mark Twain Studies, including senior scholars who do not identify as “Mark Twain scholars,” early  career scholars, and graduate students.

Notable Goals for 2021

  • Facilitate the Eighth Quarry Farm Symposium, “150th Anniversary of Roughing It.” While Twain and the West has been the subject of numerous studies since the early twentieth century, this symposium seeks to explore what in recent years has become somewhat forgotten territory in Twain’s fictive and nonfictive writings. 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 The Mark Twain Annual, the journal of the Mark Twain Circle of America.
  • Begin the process of organizing “Elmira 2022: The Ninth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies,” a quadrennial conference recognized as the largest gathering of Mark Twain Studies scholars in the world.  The CMTS staff have asked respected Mark Twain Studies scholars Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford University) and Tracy Wuster (University of Texas, Austin) to assume the role of co-chairs.  Both scholars have agreed.
  • Explore feasibility of creating a workshop for advanced graduate students working in Mark Twain Studies at Quarry Farm in collaboration with the Mark Twain Circle of America.

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

The main goal of MarkTwainStudies.org is to directly serve CMTS’ core constituency, the Mark Twain scholarly community; however, the website is also meant to be a resource for students, teachers, and enthusiasts.  With more than 170,00 visitors in 2020, MarkTwainStudies.org posted a year-over-year traffic increase of more than 50%. No doubt this traffic increase was accelerated by increased digital programming from CMTS and increased digital consumption from its audience during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now nearly 4.5 years into operation, MTS.org has never had an annual traffic increase of less than 30%. Simply projecting the final quarter of 2020 over a full year would yield another 30% rise. In other words, we have yet to find the upper-bound of the site’s sustainable appeal.  The success of the Quarry Farm virtual tour and both the “1901 Elmira” and “Woodlawn Cemetery” interactive maps have been noted by a large number of users from a wide-range of different constituencies. 

The primary challenge for the website moving forward is simply efficiently delegating limited manpower. Since the first year of operations, CMTS has never had a shortage of contributors or potential outreach, design, archive, and publicity projects. The amount of time and energy dedicated to social media, search engine optimization, and other publicity work has been negligible compared to other cultural humanities organizations, many of whom have a staff member primarily committed to such work. In 2021, CMTS would like to make some progress on this front, recognizing that merely sustaining the output of MarkTwainStudies.org in the past two years is enough to occupy all the time Dr. Seybold and Dr. Lemak have to spare.

Notable Successes of 2020

  • Acquisition of the digital rights of David Fears’s seminal reference work Mark Twain Day by Day, allowing CTMS to begin the process of modernizing the delivery of the current online version found on MarkTwainStudies.org.  This will make the online version more accessible and useful to key audiences.  Since this important reference work is not physically available at most libraries, this project will have a profound effect on the everyday research methodology for Twain scholars and enthusiasts.
  • Launch of CMTS’ own podcast, “The American Vandal Podcast.”  The ten-episode inaugural season features interviews, panel discussions, lectures, and narrative episodes.  It is a venue not only for discussing new research on Twain, but also the many disciplines he has influenced.  For example, the inaugural season has touched on a wide variety of topics, including stand-up comedy, humor-writing, Civil War history, and Gothic storytelling.
  • During 2020, CMTS staff were consulted by journalists and fact-checker for The New York Times, Washington Post, WNYC Public Radio, The Buffalo News, and several other national, regional, and local publications and organizations. Primarily through MTS.org, CMTS is now widely recognized as an authoritative voice in Twain Studies.

Notable Goals for 2021

  • Continue producing episodes of “The American Vandal Podcast,” with an emphasis on diversity of topics, participant specializations, participant backgrounds, and participant career rank.
  • Establish a relationship with a digital humanities consultant and create a roadmap for the successful attainment of digital humanities grants related to Mark Twain Day by Day.
  • Launch a Facebook/Google campaign to increase website visibility and assess results.
  • Create a CMTS Instagram Account.
  • Begin the “Mark Twain 150 Years Ago Today” Project.  Since CMTS now has the digital rights to Mark Twain Day by Day, CMTS staff members will create regular posts on social media detailing where Mark Twain was and what he was doing 150 years in the past on that specific day.

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

At the center of CMTS’ service to the local and regional community is the Mark Twain Study Ambassador Program.  From Memorial Day to Labor Day, docents lead tours of the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit, both located in the heart of the Elmira College campus.  These guided tours focus on the history and legacy of Mark Twain in Elmira and the importance of the Langdon family.  The tours are open to the general public at no cost.  Thousands of visitors come to the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit every year, creating an important focus of tourism for the local Chamber of Commerce and city of Elmira. 

Additionally, CMTS facilitates the spring and fall “Trouble Begins” lecture series, the “Park Church Summer Lectures” series, resulting in ten to twelve high-quality talks from both emerging and established Mark Twain Studies scholars to the general public for free.  CMTS also helps organize and fund the Chemung County Historical Society’s Mark Twain lecture series. Furthermore, CMTS hosts 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. 

Notable Successes of 2020

Steve Webb (left) leading a Quarry Farm field trip
  • Facilitation of the 2020 Mark Twain Summer Teacher Institute.  Over seventy-five teachers, librarians, and other educators gathered online to discuss the challenges of working with students how teaching about Mark Twain’s life and literary works can help meet those challenges in a two-day event. The theme of the 2020 workshop was “The New Normal: The Past Speaking to Our Students’ Present.” The Institute was led by Jocelyn Chadwick, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, author of numerous books on literature and education, as well as a recent president of the National Council of Teachers of English.
  • Celebration of Samuel Clemens and Olivia Langdon’s 150th wedding anniversary.  CMTS invited the general public for a 2020 celebration of the happy occasion, with dramatic readings from Mark Twain’s “Diaries of Adam and Eve,” Twain’s own recollection of the wedding after his wife’s death and Ida Langdon’s discerning    thoughts about her aunt and uncle.

Notable Goals for 2021

  • Open newly updated Mark Twain Exhibit.  The new exhibit will better showcase the Langdon family, Quarry Farm, Mark Twain’s experiences in Elmira, and CMTS itself.
  • Continue existing programs which serve the local and regional community, namely the school field trips to Quarry Farm, the Mark Twain Literary Project, the Summer Teachers Institute, and the Trouble Begins, Park Church, and Chemung County Historical Society Mark Twain lecture series. 
  • Continue the proactive search for collaboration with local cultural organizations like the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes, the Arnot Art Museum, and the Community Arts of Elmira as the opportunity arises.

A4. Enhance and sustain services for the Elmira College community

CMTS is dedicated to teaching Elmira College students about the legacy of Mark Twain and the Langdon family and their relationship to the city of Elmira and Elmira College.  As a result, CMTS has created a number of successful programs that interact with the Elmira College community in a number of meaningful, educational ways, by sponsoring annual writing and creative art contests, assisting in bringing visiting scholars to speak to students in the EC Honors program, and creating opportunities to engage with the student body as the occasions arise. 

Notable Successes of 2020

Notable Goals for 2021

Elijah Jorden ’23 as “Adam” (background) and Marissa Woodley ’23 as “Eve” (foreground)
  • Employ Elmira College student to manage the “Mark Twain 150 Years Ago Today Project.” Since CMTS now has the digital rights to Mark Twain Day by Day, an Elmira College student worker will create a daily post on Instagram detailing where Mark Twain was and what he was doing 150 years in the past on that specific day.
  • Create a more pronounced presence during Mountain Day.  Instituted in 1918, Elmira  College students, faculty, and administrators established the tradition of hiking to Quarry Farm from the Elmira College campus. CMTS will revive this tradition for all interested members of the Elmira College community. 
  • Explore the possibility of staging theatrical reading of original Mark Twain-inspired one-act plays with the students of Hannah Hammond’s, Assistant Professor of Theater, courses.           
  • Continue its existing service to Elmira College, namely its employment of student workers, creative arts and writing contests, and support of the EC Honors program.

B. 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 addition to typical annual preservation, maintenance, repairs, nationally respected preservation architects and engineers Elise Johnson-Schmidt (Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Corning, NY), Michael C. Henry (Watson & Henry Associates, Bridgeton, NJ and University of Pennsylvania), and Wendy Jessup (Wendy Jessup & Associates, Arlington, VA) have established that established that fire suppression, temperature, and humidity control are vital to the long-term preservation of the main house at Quarry Farm and the building’s collections, with fire suppression as the most urgent priority. In light of this, CMTS has created and is in the final stages of implementing a multi-year, multi-phased project called Fire Suppression Master Plan for Quarry Farm and Its Collections. The roadmap for this plan is as follows:

  • Phase I (2018) – CMTS acquires a historical structure report for Quarry Farm from Johnson-Schmidt & Associates. (COMPLETED)
  • Phase II (2019) – CMTS enlists the services of a team of qualified preservation professionals to assess the needs of Quarry Farm and its collection and prepare environmental plans based on their assessments; this is coupled with an aggressive capital campaign to help raise funds from the local and scholarly community, named the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign.” (COMPLETED)
  • Phase III (2020) – CMTS prepares and applies for preservation planning and/or implementation grants to make up any remaining funds not raised from the capital campaign. (COMPLETED)
  • Phase IV (2021) – CMTS starts the installation of the environmental control systems.

Notable Successes of 2020

Quarry Farm
  • Completion of a Historic Structure Report of Quarry Farm by Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, historic preservation architects.  This report will be a primary planning document for decision-making regarding Quarry Farm’s preservation and related maintenance decisions.  It prioritizes work to be completed, estimates costs, discusses philosophical issues related to its preservation; lists long-term priorities that should be considered for preserving the main house; includes a set of base drawings for the design of recommended future work; compiles the main building’s architectural history and significance as it relates to the individuals who built, altered and occupied it; illustrates existing conditions, and proposes current and future outlines for work.  It will be used as a major resource for further research and investigation by Mark Twain Studies scholars and others. This helps fulfill Phase II of the Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections.
  • Consulted with internationally renowned fire suppression engineer Nick Artim (Principal, Heritage Protection Group).  Mr. Artim has previously consulted on and created   plans for fire suppression systems for such well-known historic structures such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and theNational Galleries of Scotland.  Mr. Artim visited Quarry Farm twice in 2020 and designed a comprehensive fire suppression system.  He will be present when the actual system is installed in 2021.
  • Acquired a commercial grade zero-turn lawnmower for Quarry Farm.
  • Painted and refurbished exterior of the Quarry Farm Barn.  The Barn exterior was painted in a deep red with white trim, following as closely as possible to historic pictures of the Barn.  Large sections of the exterior of the Barn were repaired, along with improving the drainage in important sections.
  • Created and implemented the “Preservation Responsibilities for all Quarry Farm Residents” Contract.  This document will help inform Quarry Farm residents of the preservation needs of the main house and encourage them to be active stewards while they are in residence.
  • Created a comprehensive Disaster Response Plan for Quarry Farm.
  • Developed a formal Quarry Farm Housekeeping Plan for Quarry Farm that provides instruction for cleaning the historically-furnished first floor spaces at Quarry Farm, with schedules and a list of acceptable cleaning materials and methods.

Notable Goals for 2021

Samuel Clemens Looking out from the study window, Quarry Farm, East Hill, Elmira New York.
Mark Twain looking out of the Study at Quarry Farm (1903)
  • Install fire suppression system and fire alarm in the main house of Quarry Farm, paying close attention to preserving historic integrity.
  • Consult a civil engineering firm and create plan to improve drainage of the lawn immediately surrounding the Quarry Farm main house and execute those recommendations.
  • Engage an engineer to perform a hydraulic analysis in the entire roof drainage system at Quarry Farm and execute those recommendations.
  • Fix the buckling on the roof of the Mark Twain Study.
  • Create restoration and rehabilitation action plan for the Mark Twain Study, with consultation with Johnson-Schmidt & Associates and Elmira College’s Buildings & Grounds Department.

C. Improve the Quarry Farm experience for all residents

At the heart of CMTS’ mission is the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program.  When the family Langdon family bequeathed Quarry Farm to Elmira College, the Langdons insisted on restrictions dependent on the gift that Quarry Farm would only be used as a retreat for scholars and writers working in Mark Twain Studies and other related fields.  Because of their far-seeing vision, Quarry Farm is not a historic home open to the general public, but a cultural humanities site singularly dedicated to the promotion and support of Mark Twain Studies scholars.  In order to better fulfill its mission and stay true to its long-term vision of becoming one of the best academic centers in the county, Quarry Farm must be a productive and comfortable workspace for scholars and writers, without compromising its historic integrity.  It is essential that CMTS constantly strive to improve the scholarly work amenities, both direct (primary and secondary source materials, lights, desks, chairs, computers) and indirect (kitchen and sleeping amenities). 

Notable Successes of 2020

  • Improved workspace lighting in the Library and the second-floor of the main house.
  • Added a large American Humor book collection to the Quarry Farm library.
  • Continued to acquire recently published books pertaining to Mark Twain Studies.

Notable Goals for 2021

  • Employ an interior designer or architect to reorganize the second floor of the Quarry Farm main house with an emphasis on better workspaces, increased comfort for scholars, and more room for bookshelves.
  • Employ woodworker to create bookshelves for the second floor of the main house.
  • Update historic Langdon family photos in the main house.

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

The Mark Twain Archive, located in the Gannett-Tripp Library on the Elmira College campus, 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 its records available to advance scholarship in the field of Mark Twain Studies and provides research support and instructional services to the Mark Twain Studies community.

In early 2020 Elmira College declared financial exigency and laid off a number of positions throughout the organization, including the archivist of Elmira College and CMTS.  This sudden loss of a valuable staff member has lessened the services offered by the Mark Twain Archive to the academic community and forced CMTS to dramatically diminish expectations for strategic advancement in this particular area.  Until CMTS acquires a full-time (or part-time) archivist, the only sustainable goal for the Mark Twain Archive is to preserve and maintain the existing collection.  Any consideration of growing the collection or expanding its accessibility through digitization efforts must also be delayed.  While the Mark Twain Archives was open to the general public in the past, the collections will now only be accessible to Quarry Farm residents or individuals with explicit permission from the Director.  The acquisition of a dedicated CMTS archivist is the foremost priority in this strategic area.

Notable Successes of 2020

  • Created an “Archive Statement” for incoming Quarry Farm Fellows-in-residence, informing them of the resources and services available in the Mark Twain Archive.
  • Added the Michael Kiskis Papers to the Archive.  The bulk of this collection contains Michael Kiskis’s research as a Mark Twain Studies scholar while teaching at Elmira College, including scholarly articles, lectures, and academic presentations.  The collection further includes Kiskis’s work as a student.

Notable Goals of 2021

  • Explore ways to acquire a dedicated archivist for the Mark Twain Archive.
  • Finish cataloging all books on the second floor of Quarry Farm, including the Michael Kiskis Collection.

19th century chair in the Library at Quarry Farm, originally located in the Langdon Mansion and rumored to be one of Twain’s favorite smoking places

 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.  CMTS is honored to state that the Mark Twain Foundation is the largest and most consistent source of income for CMTS. However, with large projects looming such as large-scale Quarry Farm preservation projects and continued improvements to MarkTwainStudies.org, while still preserving the Quarry Farm Fellowships and all the other customary annual programming (lectures, field trips, symposia, workshop for teachers, et cetera), CMTS will have to inspire its donation base and aggressively seek out and apply for historic preservation and digital humanities grants.  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. 

Notable Successes of 2020

  • Created and implemented the “Stewards of Quarry Farm Club.”  Admission to this elite group is a one-time donation of $5,000.  Benefits of organization include an annual exclusive event, consisting of a social event on the Porch at Quarry Farm, followed by a lecture by a Mark Twain Studies scholar.
  • Created resources aimed at increasing grant writing success. CMTS asked and will continue to ask specific Quarry Farm residents to write about their experience at and the importance of Quarry Farm.  These “testimonials” will be posted on MarkTwainStudies.org and used as direct evidence for fulfilling its mission to support and promote Mark Twain Studies. 

Notable Goals of 2021

  • Complete grant application from the Preservation of New York State’s “Preserve New York” Program for the acquisition of a historic landscape report.
  • Start a capital campaign to fund preservation improvements of the Mark Twain Study.

A hardcopy of the “Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan” can be obtained by sending a request to Dr. Joseph Lemak ([email protected])

Mark Twain’s grave at Woodlawn Cemetery, Elmira, New York