Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2019
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.
The 2018 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 2018,” made available to the general public on CMTS’s website, helped expedite a number of important accomplishments. Some highlights include
- Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program. CMTS hosted and aided the research of both senior and developing scholars from Israel, the United Kingdom, Japan, and throughout the United States
- Facilitation of the Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age. 12 respected scholars gave talks and explored the intersection of economic history, economic theory, mass media, literature, and Mark Twain Studies
- 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
- Continued development of MarkTwainStudies.org. This official website of CMTS welcomed more that 180,000 digital visitors from around the world. CMTS created content for the website, including audio recordings of lectures, documents and photographs from the Mark Twain Archive, online teaching resources, announcement of Twain-related events across the country, expansion of existing virtual tours, a blog updated weekly from an international community of Twain scholars
- Digitization of finding guides for the entire Mark Twain Archive, now located on MarkTwainStudies.org, along with the Mark Twain Society Bulletin (1978-1997)
- Completion of a major roof repair on the main house at Quarry Farm
- Continued support of the Elmira College Honors Program. CMTS hosted Ron Powers, Pulitzer- and Emmy Award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author, and David Bianculli, TV critic for NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Elmira College Honors students had the opportunity to meet both of these writers and converse with them in an informal, friendly setting
- Initiation of the Quarry Farm Fireplace Writing Contest, encouraging area students in grades 2-6 to explore Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira
- 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 classrooms
- Successful acquisition of grant funding from the Preservation League of New York for a Historic Structure Report for the Mark Twain Study
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
- Matt 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 ([email protected])
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
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 and preservation 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.
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.” 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.
 “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. Although, the bulk of the collection was established with the original gift, it is not static. The Center continues, on occasion, to receive books bearing the Langdon bookplate or books inscribed by Langdon and/or Crane family members. Interest in the marginalia and books to which Mark Twain had access has long interested scholars. A 19th century furniture expert, Walter Ritchie, Jr., recently conducted research and produced articles about the furnishings of the Langdon Mansion in downtown Elmira, and has 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, in some cases, special collections. For many Fellows-in-residence, including independent and emerging scholars, this may be the first time they have had access to such resources. Few scholars at any career stage can under any other circumstances 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 Mark Twain, have found the ideal conditions for writing. Current residents share the same spectacular view of the Chemung River Valley with Mark Twain, his family, and his in-laws. Many scholars believe that this same view helped inspire Mark Twain, watching his young daughters play at Quarry Farm, to write about parts of his own childhood on the Mississippi River. This impression led to the creation of the characters 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-class selection of primary and secondary sources related to 19th century U.S. literature and history while offering them a unique, and at times inspirational, experience 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 as contributors to the 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.
In the past two years alone Quarry Farm has hosted a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, the current President of the National Council of Teachers of English, a Fulbright-winning dramatist, three Presidents of the Mark Twain Circle of America, the biologist who founded the Evolution Institute, one of the founding editors of Logic Magazine, and a host at National Public Radio. CMTS has also, in that same time period, hosted two undergraduates, four graduate students, three contingent faculty members, and five independent scholars, all constituencies which suffer from limited access to archival resources, research funding, and dedicated writing time. In the past two years Quarry Farm has also hosted scholars from France, India, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom, as well as the US and Canada.
Scholars have a tradition of acknowledging Quarry Farm in their publications. 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. In Shelley Fisher Fishkin’s Lighting Out for The Territory: Reflections on Mark Twain & American Culture (1997, Oxford University Press) she 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 2019. All of 2019 fellows-in-residents’ biographies and projects can be found here.
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, strategic planning, grant writing, fundraising, and the preservation and maintenance of the Mark Twain Study and Quarry Farm.
Matt 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.
Mark Twain and John T. Lewis, friend and neighbor, on the Quarry Farm Porch (1903)
Foundation and Corporate Sponsors
(in alphabetical order)
Darby Petrie Fund – The largest restricted fund for CMTS. CMTS draws interest annually. This fund is primarily used to defray the annual salaries of the CMTS staff.
Elmira College – Elmira 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 Studies – The 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 TV – A 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 Foundation – Annual 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 Funds – Small 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.
Reflecting its vision and mission statement, the Center for Mark Twain Studies has established the following strategic goals:
- Enhance and sustain service to all constituents of CMTS
- Scholarly community
- Internet community
- Local and regional community
- Elmira College community
- Increase the quality and quantity of scholarly production associated with Quarry Farm
- Enhance and sustain the services and materials offered by the Mark Twain Archive to the academic community
- Preserve the historical infrastructure of Quarry Farm, the Study, the Exhibit, and the Archives
- 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.
In 2018, CMTS successfully held the Fifth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “American Literary History and Economics in the New Gilded Age.” The majority of the symposium took place at Quarry Farm where 11 papers were delivered. After all individual presenters were finished, a round-table discussion concluded the academic events. Afterward, all attendees enjoyed at cocktail hour on the Quarry Farm Porch, followed by dinner in the Barn. CMTS is pleased to point out that a number of the talks, including the keynote address, were audio-recorded and made available on MarkTwainStudies.org for scholars who could not attend. CMTS also funded three graduate students to attend this symposium, waiving their symposium fees and paying for their lodging.
At the same time, the new website and the relatively new academic emphasis on digital humanities offers fresh, innovative ways to serve the Mark Twain Studies scholarly community. CMTS has recently made available David Fears’s important and enormous reference work, Mark Twain Day by Day online in a searchable format on MarkTwainStudies.org. 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. In 2019, CMTS will continue to update and improve this online reference work.
Another highlight for 2019 will be the Sixth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “Mark Twain and Nature.” 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 Symposium will offer various critical examinations of the natural world in Twain’s writing: as nature writing similar to the ecocritical discourse of Thoreau, Dillard, and Abbey; as exploration of the aesthetic nexus between art and nature; as commentary on animal welfare; and as analysis of the intersection between nature and culture. Moreover, papers cut across all periods of Twain’s writing life and will further the claim of Twain as a forerunner to mid-20th to early 21st century writers such as Krutch, Cuppy, Abbey, Kingsolver, Quammen, and Gessner who offer comic responses to nature as well as recognize the intrinsically humorous place of humanity in nature.
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 Sixth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium in 2018 and the Hannibal Quadrennial Conference in 2019.
- Tactic #A1.1 – Facilitate the Sixth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “Mark Twain and Nature
- Tactic #A1.2 – Secure theme and chair for the 2020 Seventh Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium
- Tactic #A1.3 – Explore the idea of creating the Mark Twain Iconography database
- Tactic #A1.4 – Improve the Mark Twain Day by Day searchable database
- Tactic #A1.5 – Fund qualified graduate students to the Hannibal Mark Twain Conference and the Quarry Farm Symposium
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #A1.6 – Continue the Quarry Farm Fellowship Program
- Tactic #A1.7 – 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
During the first calendar years following its launch, MarkTwainStudies.org attracted 69,925 visitors. As of December 7, we have already surpassed that number by a wide margin, with 87,485. Moreover, we have been averaging more than 9,000 visitors per month for the past five months, a pace with, if maintained, will assure an even bigger year in 2019. Our continually improving traffic has been aided by contributions from an international roster of Twain scholars, recognition from several mainstream media outlets, and a growing community of regular readers, both in and out of academia.
In March, Jocelyn Chadwick, Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and current President of the National Council of Teachers of English, utilized MTS.org to publicize her recent national multi-media examination of Huckleberry Finn’s prescience for contemporary students, as well as to respond to the removal of the novel from Duluth Public Schools. These essays generated significant traffic both to the website and via social media, as well as an invitation from Duluth teachers for Dr. Chadwick to speak locally on the topic. In September, we published Matt Seybold’s speech from the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Twain’s first visit to Elmira, at which we kicked off the Quarry Farm Preservation Campaign. The speech, which highlights Elmira’s proud history, is one of several posts which was shared by national media outlets and social media influencers. It is one of twenty pages which were visited more than 1,000 times so far in 2018.
Of the goals laid out when the website was proposed in 2015, the only which has not been reached is an escalation of MarkTwainStudies.org to the first page of Google results for “mark twain.” The site has continued to climb slowly, but in 2019 we plan to make our first foray into SEO marketing to try to realize this goal.
More importantly, in January we will launch a redesigned website. CMTS staff has already seen the Beta version. The front-page includes drone video high above Quarry Farm, more attractive and intuitive menus, cleaner images, more comprehensive and interactive virtual tours, and easier access to digital versions of materials from the Mark Twain Archive, Trouble Begins Lecture Series, and, most notably, the digital edition of David Fears’s Mark Twain Day By Day, the chronology of Mark Twain’s life. The print version of MTDBD, five enormous volumes, is already a much-used reference for Twain scholars, but due to its size, expense, and small print run, is accessible only through academic libraries and rare private collections. By putting it online (with Mr. Fears’s permission), we will be able to democratize access and increase the ability of students, teachers, emerging and independent scholars, and casual Twain enthusiasts to explore the details of Twain’s life. The volumes are coded in fully-searchable HTML. We expect MTDBD to immediately become the most-used digital reference in Mark Twain Studies outside of U.C. Berkeley’s Mark Twain Project. The primary focus of 2019 will be troubleshooting the new site and database, while maintaining the high quality of content on the blog and in the audio archive.
With the re-launch of MarkTwainStudies.org and the first, BETA digital version of MTDBD on-line, CMTS will spend 2019 fixing small errors and improving the website’s functionality and appearance. In 2020, CMTS will start writing grants from digital humanities programs to help digitize portions of the collections in the Mark Twain Archive and at Quarry Farm and improve the functionality of MTDBD.
- Tactic #A2.1 – Redesign and launch updated website with Mark Twain Day by Day
- Tactic #A2.2 – Trouble shoot redesigned website
- Tactic #A2.3 – Create form for submitting suggestions to Mark Twain Day by Day
- Tactic #A2.4 – Create interactive maps of Mark Twain’s Elmira and Woodlawn Cemetery
- Tactic #A2.5 – Update and expand basic information content concerning Mark Twain in Elmira, especially high traffic “Quarry Farm” and “Olivia Clemens” page
- Tactic #A2.6 – Incorporate Mark Twain Archive databases into website
- Tactic #A2.7– Find at least one grant related to the digital humanities, applicable to CMTS, for the 2020 grant cycle
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.
One of the new projects that began in 2018 was the Quarry Farm Fireplace Writing Contest. Area students in grades 2-6 were encouraged to explore Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira by creating short stories inspired by the tiles adorning the Quarry Farm Parlor fireplace. The tiles depict fables written by the Ancient Greek story-teller Aesop. Four winners from four different schools were chosen by the CMTS staff. The winning students were given the opportunity to have a personal tour of Quarry Farm with a small group from their class, a privilege usually reserved only for scholars. The winners had the opportunity to read their story next to the Quarry Farm parlor. Feedback from all participants was overwhelmingly positive. CMTS plans to hold this for next year.
In 2019, Matt Seybold, Assistant professor of American literature and Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College, will take charge of the Summer Teachers’ Institute, an annual workshop with the purpose of bringing Mark Twain Studies more effectively into local classrooms. CMTS has enlisted Dr. Jocelyn Chadwick, Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education and president of the National Council for Teachers of English to co-chair this year’s Institute.
Furthermore, CMTS will continue to create resources for teachers and students on MarkTwainStudies.org.
- Tactic #A3.1 – Revamp the Mark Twain Summer Teachers’ Institute with Matthew Seybold as lead curriculum organizer
- Tactic #A3.2 – Create interactive maps of Mark Twain’s Elmira and Woodlawn Cemetery
- Tactic #A3.3 – Update and expand basic information content concerning Mark Twain in Elmira on MarkTwainStudies.org, especially high traffic “Quarry Farm” and “Olivia Clemens” pages
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #A3.4 – Facilitate the Spring and Fall “Trouble Begins” lecture series and the Park Church Summer Lecture Series
- Tactic #A3.5 – Continue to host school field trips to Quarry Farm and Study
- Tactic #A3.6 – Continue to the Mark Twain Literacy Project
- Tactic #A3.7 – Facilitate the 2019 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
Two years ago, CMTS adopted a “grassroots” approach to providing opportunities to interact with CMTS, in hopes of creating and fostering a student culture which finds CMTS as a valuable resource for EC students’ liberal arts education and career goals. It appears this approach has been successful.
CMTS helped bolster the Elmira College Honors Program by organizing opportunities for students to interact with Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize- and Emmy Award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author and David Bianculli, TV Critic for NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Both of these writers gave lectures on the Elmira College campus on a topics related to Mark Twain Studies and also met with a small group of honors students to talk about their current projects. Powers discussed his recent book No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America; while Bianculli led an intimate round-table discussion about the current state of television with a group of EC students and faculty.
The 2018 “Mark Twain Essay” Prize was awarded to Hannah Smith with Dominique Del Calzo ’18 chosen runner-up. The contest is open to any student at Elmira College from any discipline. A panel of judges, consisting of Elmira College faculty and administrators, chooses the best essay related to some facet of Mark Twain Studies. The winner of the Mark Twain Essay Contest has her/his name added to a growing list of names memorialized on the pedestal of the Mark Twain statue, located in the entrance to McGraw Hall.
For the second year CMTS sponsored the “Portraying Mark Twain” Art Competition for all Elmira College students. The judges, comprised of ten EC faculty and staff, had the difficult task of selecting five final images from fifty submissions that represented Mark Twain, his literature, or aspects of his life in Elmira and Quarry Farm. Winning entries will be featured in future publications of Elmira College and CMTS, providing students the opportunity to have their work displayed in a public setting. The 2018 winners were Sabrina Didas ’20, Alicia Gassner ’19, EmilyAnn LaClair ’19, Tsuyoshi Kaji ’19, and Carissa Neary ’19.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, CMTS created the position of student intern. The staff of CMTS is proud to point out that our interns have done quite well after leaving Elmira College. Diandra Alvarado ’17 landed an internship with Oxford Academic in New York City upon graduation and has since become a Managing Editorial Assistant with Penguin Random House, the largest publisher in the world. Emily Van Allen ’18 was admitted to St. John’s University for graduate school, where she will pursue her dream of becoming an academic librarian.
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #A4.1 – Continue the visiting scholars program in service of the EC Honors Program
- 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
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.
In 2018, CMTS asked each Quarry Farm resident to complete an anonymous on-line survey focusing on their research and living experiences. While the results were overwhelmingly positive, two problems repeatedly surfaced among the responses: slow internet speed and need for more writing spaces. CMTS will address both of these issues in the Winter 2019.
- Tactic #B.1 – Facilitate the Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium “Mark Twain and Nature”
- Tactic #B.2 – Increase the internet speed at Quarry Farm
- Tactic #B.3 – Add a large writing space in the first floor of the Quarry Farm library
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
- Tactic #B.6 – Aquire recent books related to Mark Twain Studies for the Quarry Farm collection
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.
The goal for 2018 was to find a vehicle for scholars and researchers to access the finding aids and digital images that have been created over the last three years. A website was created on the library homepage at: http://libguides.elmira.edu/ home/mark-twain-home for this purpose. Today, visiting fellows and outside researchers can view our collections remotely.
There are three major digitization projects slated for completion for 2019: Mark Twain’s marginalia from the books at Quarry Farm, marginalia from Katy Leary’s collection of books from Mark Twain’s library at Stormfield, CT, and Charley Langdon’s Family Photograph Collection. The scans and photographs from the first two projects were completed over the last year. Due to equipment limitations and the desire to maintain the condition of the volumes, the photographs were of unacceptable quality to add to New York Heritage. The image capturing setup has been modified and a new set of images will be completed over the following year. The third project, the Charley Langdon family photograph collection is the largest, containing 540 images. This project, because of the time and limited skill set required, is destined to be a student project. These three projects will be priorities for the coming year.
- Tactic #C.1 – Digitize Mark Twain’s marginalia from the books at Quarry Farm and make accessible on MarkTwainStudies.org
- Tactic #C.2 – Digitize marginalia from Katy Leary’s collection of books from Mark Twain’s library in Stormfield, CT. and make accessible on MarkTwainStudies.org
- Tactic #C.3 – Digitize Charley Langdon’s family photographs and make accessible on MarkTwainStudies.org
- Tactic #C.4 – Update Mark Twain Exhibit in Cowles Hall
- Tactic #C.5 – Identify storage area for transferring large items from the current exhibit
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #C.6 – 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.
CMTS has made great strides in the maintenance and long-term preservation of Quarry Farm in 2018. Evans Roofing Company began an extensive repair of the roof where a perennial leak around a chimney has occurred. Numerous small-scale efforts at fixing this leak have been attempted for more than seven years. The large-scale project includes the removal of the existing shingles and roofing; the installation of an ice and water shield over the entire area in question; the installation of lifetime architectural shingles; the installation of custom-made flashing; and mason work for the chimney itself. The total cost of this repair was over $20,000.
In addition, CMTS has continued to thoroughly maintain the property and the buildings of Quarry Farm. The Caretaker at Quarry Farm replaced the toilet, sink, faucets, and shower drain in the bathroom next to Quarry Farm. Additionally, The Caretaker cleared out a large group of scrub trees and stumps on the southern border of the property.
The Curator at Quarry Farm has created a furniture policy for all Quarry Farm residents and has created policies for the entire Quarry Farm collections, including all the 19th century books, textiles, furniture, and paintings.
Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Architects (Corning, N.Y.), an architectural firm specializing in historic preservation, is currently in the process of in creating a historical structure reports for both Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Study. Both of these documents will be completed in 2019. In 2018, CMTS was awarded grants from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation ($45,150) and the Preservation League of New York State ($2,800) for the completion of historic structures reports. The historical structure reports are fundamental to guiding future work, but is also a detailed summary of each structure’s history, conditions, and a prioritized evaluation for work to be undertaken to preserve their historic integrity. Johnson-Schmidt & Associates have already determined several important projects that need to be undertaken. In addition to typical preservation maintenance, repairs, and future interpretation of the site, it is clear 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. Because all three of these are related systems that impact one another and are typically installed in a similar fashion, it was determined that there is no project more important to the preservation of Quarry Farm and the collections that define Mark Twain’s summers at Quarry Farm, and so many of the literary treasures that he wrote while living at Quarry Farm with his family surrounding him.
In light of this, CMTS has begun the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign” in order to raise funds for environmental and fire suppression systems at Quarry Farm. This fundraising is part of a multi-year, multi-phased project called Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections. The plan for this project is as follows:
- Phase I (2018) – CMTS acquires a historical structure report for Quarry Farm from Johnson-Schmidt & Associates
- Phase II (2019) – CMTS will enlist 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 will be coupled with an aggressive capital campaign to help raise funds from the local and scholarly community, named the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign”
- Phase III (2020) – CMTS will prepare and apply for preservation implementation grants to make up any remaining funds not raised from the capital campaign
- Phase IV (2021) – CMTS will start the installation of the environmental control systems
Major projects for 2019 include updates to the Caretaker’s Apartment, the removal of two dying Australian pine trees, the purchase of a generator in case of power failure, and the possible purchase of a new lawnmower.
- Tactic #D.1 – Complete the Quarry Farm and Mark Twain Study Historic Structure Reports via Johnson-Schmidt & Associates
- Tactic #D.2 – Continue the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign”
- Tactic #D.3 – Create annually updated maintenance plan and schedule for Quarry Farm
- Tactic #D.4 – Create disaster plan for Quarry Farm
- Tactic #D.5 – Write grants to enlist the services of qualified professionals to asses the needs of Quarry Farm and its collection and to prepare environmental improvement plans
- Tactic #D.6 – Update Caretaker’s Apartment
- Tactic #D.7 – Purchase and install a home generator
- Tactic #D.8 – Remove two dying Australian Pine trees near driveway
- Tactic #D.9 – Finish a number of smaller jobs including fixing gutters and doors on Maid’s Cottage, converting second floor sewing room into a furniture storage area, and fixing plaster in second floor unused bathroom,
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #D.10 – Continue to evaluate and address daily preservation and maintenance concerns for all historical infrastructure under CMTS supervision
- Tactic #D.11 – Submit annual Quarry Farm Conditions Report to Chemung County Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Tactic #D.12 – 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. 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, the continued improvements to 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 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.
In 2018, CMTS launched the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign.” The campaign is solely for the purpose of raising funds for the improvement of environmental control systems in Quarry Farm. Up-to-date environmental systems within Quarry Farm will significantly improve the long-term health of Quarry Farm, so that CMTS can continue fulling the goals of the Langdon family’s gift for generations to come.
Another 2018 bright spot was that the Preservation League of New York State awarded CMTS $2,800 for the completion of a historical structures report for the Mark Twain Study, located on the Elmira College campus. Johnson-Schmidt & Associates (Corning, NY) have been commissioned to complete this report. The document will be an important long-term guide for the preservation of the Mark Twain Study, one of the most important buildings in the American literature.
In 2019, CMTS will focus its grant-writing efforts on two major grants. First, CMTS will apply for the National Endowment for the Humanities “Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections” grant. Funding from the grant will allow CMTS to hire an established team of preservation professionals, including historic preservation architects, a conservator, a preservation engineer, to facilitate an extensive assessment of the collections and main house at Quarry Farm, with the purpose of improving the environmental management and fire protection systems. CMTS will seek out funding from the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust and the Collections Assessment Program, sponsored by the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.
With the re-launch of MarkTwainStudies.org and the first, BETA digital version of Mark Twain Day by Day on-line, CMTS will spend 2019 fixing small errors and improving the website’s functionality and appearance. In 2020, CMTS will start writing grants from digital humanities programs to help digitize portions of the collections in the Mark Twain Archive and at Quarry Farm and improve the functionality of Mark Twain Day by Day.
Lastly in 2019, CMTS will petition the Provost at Elmira College for a Graduate Assistant. If successful, part of the responsibilities of this position will be assisting the Director in grant writing, hopefully increasing the capability for grant writing.
- Tactic #E.1 – Continue the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign” throughout 2019
- Tactic #E.2 – Write and submit grant for the John Ben Snow Memorial Fund program, specifically for the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign”
- Tactic #E.3 – Write and submit application for the National Endowment for the Humanities “Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections” grant
- Tactic #E.4 – Write and submit application for the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works’s “Collections Assessment for Preservation” grant
- Tactic #E.5 – Find at least one grant related to digital humanities, applicable to CMTS, for the 2020 grant cycle
- Tactic #E.6 – Petition Elmira College Provost for a CMTS Graduate Assistant
Annual Customary Operations
- Tactic #E.7 – Complete annual report to the Mark Twain Foundation
- Tactic #E.8 – Complete the Dear Friends Annual Appeal
- Tactic #E.9 – 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