Strategic Plan

Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2020


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 2019 annual cycle was a successful one, in no small part the result of the strategic planning decision-making process.  The “Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2019,” made available to the general public on CMTS’s website, helped expedite a number of important accomplishments. Key highlights include:

  • Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS hosted and aided the research of ten 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 Sixth Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium.  At this year’s “Mark Twain and Nature” symposium several of the papers presented at the event will be published in a special issue of the Mark Twain Annual, a peer-reviewed academic journal and official publication of the Mark Twain Circle of America.  Twelve respected scholars from Japan, France, Hawaii, Nevada, California, and other areas of the United States gave talks and offered various critical examinations of the natural world in Twain’s writing.
  • 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.
  • Creation of two interactive maps located on MarkTwainStudies.org, namely a map of 1901 Elmira and a map of Woodlawn Cemetery, the final resting place of Mark Twain, his family, and his in-laws. Both maps highlight notable people and places that shaped Mark Twain and the Langdon family during Twain’s time in Elmira.
  • Digitization of over seventy-five past academic lectures from the years 1986-1999. These lectures are now accessible to the public at no charge at MarkTwainStudies.org.  Many of these lectures come past and present preeminent scholars in the field of Mark Twain Studies, including Lawrence I. Berkove, Louis J. Budd, Victor Doyno, Kerry Driscoll, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Alan Gribben, Susan K. Harris, and Hamlin Hill.
  • Facilitation of the 2019 Mark Twain Summer Teacher Institute.  Forty-six teachers, librarians, and other educators gathered to discuss the challenges of working with students from “Generation Z” and how teaching about Mark Twain’s life and literary works can help meet those challenges. 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.

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
  • Nathaniel Ball, Archivist and Curator of the Elmira College Mark Twain Archive
  • Jan Kather, Photographer and Professor or Media Arts
  • 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
  • Dr. Matt Seybold, Assistant Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies and Editor-in-Chief of MarkTwainStudies.org
  • Nina Skinner, Administrative Assistant for the Center for Mark Twain Studies
  • Dr. Corey Stilts, Provost of Elmira College and Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Steven Webb, Quarry Farm Caretaker

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

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

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 (CMTS) 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 and educators.  The responsibilities of CMTS also 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.

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 sponsorship of academic and creative research fellowships-in-residence; the creation of content for MarkTwainStudies.org, the website of CMTS; and through 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.


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 Mark Twain’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 Clemens 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 Mark Twain 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 Mark Twain 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 a couple 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, Mark Twain summered at Quarry Farm, the home of Susan and Theodore Crane in Elmira.  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.  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.  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, alongside his wife and four children.

Ida Langdon

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.” [1] 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.  Not surprisingly, 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 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.  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; 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

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.

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.

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 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.

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.









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

A1. Enhance and sustain services for the scholarly community

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

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 2019

  • Facilitation of the Sixth Quarry Farm Symposium “Mark Twain and Nature,” co-sponsored by the Mark Twain Annual, the major publication of the Mark Twain Circle of America.  Twelve respected scholars from Japan, France, Hawaii, and other areas of the United States gave talks and offered various critical examinations of the natural world in Twain’s writing.  All the lectures, including the keynote address, were audio-recorded and are available at MarkTwainStudies.org for scholars not able to attend the symposium.  CMTS’s hope is to help create a cohesive body of scholarship that points scholars in new directions concerning Mark Twain’s writings in the natural world, an important, underrepresented theme in Mark Twain studies scholarship.  Symposium and lodging fees were waived for three graduate students as a way of promoting future Mark Twain scholarship.
  • Facilitation or organization of fourteen lectures in as part of the fall and spring “Trouble Begins” Lecture Series, the Park Church Summer Lecture Series, and the Mark Twain Lecture Series for the Chemung County Historical Society.  Many of these lectures were 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.
  • Digitization of over seventy-five past academic lectures from the years 1986-1999. These lectures have been made accessible at MarkTwainStudies.org.  Many of these lectures come from past and present preeminent scholars in the field of Mark Twain Studies, including Lawrence I. Berkove, Louis J. Budd, Victor Doyno, Kerry Driscoll, Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Alan Gribben, Susan K. Harris, and Hamlin Hill. This collection is an important resource and contribution to the historiography of Mark Twain Studies.

Notable Goals for 2020

  • Facilitate the Seventh Quarry Farm Symposium, “American Humor and Matters of Empire.” 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 Studies in American Humor, the Journal of the American Humor Studies Association.
  • Organize and digitize select documents at the Park Church (Elmira, NY).  The Park Church was founded in 1846 by a group of abolitionists.  The church community included the Langdon family and minister Thomas. K. Beecher, close friend of Mark Twain.
  • Create a podcast for C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists relating the story of Jervis Langdon’s defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, a federal law that required authorities to return fugitive slaves to their masters, by sheltering runaway slave Julia Barbier, and other historical events concerning Elmira’s radical progressive culture in the latter half of the nineteenth-century.
  • Continue the proactive search for potential applicants for the Quarry Farm Fellowship program and lecturers for the various CMTS lecture series by means of attendance at two specific academic conferences in 2020, namely the biennial conference organized by the C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (April 2020), and the annual conference organized by the American Literature Association (May 2020).
  • Continues efforts to support graduate students and lecturers interested in Mark Twain Studies in 2020 by funding qualified graduate student lecturers at specific academic conferences and venues, including the Seventh Quarry Farm Weekend Symposium and the “Trouble Beings at 5:30” Lecture Series at the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford, Connecticut.

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 108,000 visitors (as of December 15, 2019), MarkTwainStudies.org had another year-over-year traffic increase of more than 25% and, in so doing, reached the levels predicted when the website was proposed in 2015. CMTS reached that goal in less than three years and there is no foreseeable reason why this level of traffic cannot be sustained. For the first year or so, traffic to the site depended heavily on social media virality, as some posts reached thousands of visitors, while others only a few dozen, and daily traffic to the site varied dramatically based on the popularity of recent posts. In the past year, dependence on aggregators like Facebook and Twitter has declined noticeably, which speaks to the long-term sustainability of the site. CMTS has earned a dedicated audience for all content, as well as a consistent stream of fresh visitors who are drawn to the site not only by new materials, but by “evergreen” content. Seven of the top ten most popular pages of 2019 were published prior to this calendar year. For instance, Professor Matt Seybold’s debunking of an apocryphal Twain quote that reappeared at the White House Correspondents Dinner in April was cited by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and several other mainstream outlets.

Notable Successes of 2019

  • The relaunching of a fully-redesigned website with much-improved visuals, a more intuitive organization, and greater capacity for mobile and interactive resources.
  • The release of the first update for Mark Twain Day By Day Online, the exhaustive four volume chronology of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The update included the addition of a prominent search bar associated with each volume, allowing scholars to quickly find keywords and dates throughout the massive resource, and the resolution of a number of spacing and formatting problems.
  • The release of “Mark Twain: Television Star,” a complete collection of appearances of the   character “Mark Twain” on television from 1909 to 2015.  The collection was assembled and curated by David Bianculli, nationally known television critic, professor at Rowan University, and contributor to NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
  • Creation of two interactive maps, namely a map of 1901 Elmira and a map of Woodlawn Cemetery, the final resting place of Mark Twain, his family, and his in-laws. Both maps highlight notable people and places that shaped Mark Twain and the Langdon family during Twain’s time in Elmira.
  • Two most popular posts of 2019 were part of Professor Matt Seybold’s new series, “Mark Twain’s Portfolio,” which were recognized as “Best of the Week by the news outlet Politico and the curation service The Browser.
  • CMTS staff have been consulted by journalists and fact-checkers for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Travel & Leisure, and FactCheck.org.

Notable Goals for 2020

  • Write and produce an episode of the “C19: America in the 19th Century” podcast. The episode, “The Gospel of Revolt: Mark Twain in Elmira,” is the first of several mutually-beneficial collaborations with C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.
  • Establish a relationship with a digital humanities consultant and create a roadmap for the successful attainment of digital humanities grants.
  • Launch a Facebook/Google campaign to increase website visibility and assess results.

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 2019

  • Facilitation of the 2019 Mark Twain Summer Teacher Institute.  Forty-six teachers, librarians, and other educators gathered to discuss the challenges of working with students from “Generation Z” and how teaching about Mark Twain’s life and literary works can help meet those challenges. 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.
  • Collaboration with organizations dedicated to the cultural enrichment of Southern Tier of New York State.  In February 2019, CMTS partnered with the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes in the development and collaboration of “Mark Twain’s Music Box,” a musical production exploring and celebrating Twain’s conflict and   love of both “high grade” classical music and “low grade” popular music.  In December 2019, CMTS partnered again with the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes with a Holiday Concert featuring an orchestral classical music performance, coupled with quotes from Mark Twain about the Christmas season. CMTS also collaborated with the Community Arts of Elmira by hosting a day when artists     working in a variety of media were allowed to walk the grounds of Quarry Farm and create art or write while there.

Notable Goals for 2020

Students wind up their field trip to Quarry Farm.
  • 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.
  • Facilitate an event celebrating the 150th wedding anniversary of Mark Twain and Olivia Langdon.  This event will be open to the general public at no cost.
  • 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 as the opportunity arises.

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


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 2019

EC Actors Matthieu Marchal ’20 (left), Alex Garey ’19 (middle) and Sarah Kaschalk ’17 (right) during rehearsal of Waiting for Susy

Notable Goals for 2020

  • Create a more pronounced presence during Mountain Day.  Instituted in 1918, students, faculty, and administrators enjoyed a picnic lunch and hiked to Quarry Farm. CMTS will revive the hike to Quarry Farm for all interested members of the Elmira College community.    
  • Facilitate an event celebrating the 150th wedding anniversary of Mark Twain and Olivia Langdon.  This event will be open to the Elmira College community, and will most likely involve a theatrical reading of one of Twain’s works, directed and performed by Elmira College students.
  • Organize and digitize select documents at the Park Church (Elmira, NY).  This process will involve selected undergraduates in its assessment and digitization of documents, providing EC students with quality experience in archival research and collections assessment.
  • Continue its existing service to Elmira College, namely its CMTS intern program, creative arts and writing contests, and support of the EC Honors program.

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

At the heart of CMTS’ mission is oversight of Quarry Farm and the Quarry Farm Fellowships.  Quarry Farm is unique. As a cultural humanities site, it is a literary landmark and a living, occupied house with the sole purpose of inspiring and helping produce scholarship related to the life, literature, and era of Mark Twain.  The occupants of Quarry Farm are the Mark Twain Studies 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.  Every year, CMTS sponsors ten Quarry Farm Fellows-in residence and hosts at least an additional ten to twelve additional scholars for various lectures, academic events, and workshops. Consideration is paid to gender and ethnicity of applicants in order to create a diverse group of fellows-in-residence. New scholars who are about to or have just successfully completed their doctoral requirements are strongly encouraged to apply.  An additional goal is to improve the scholarly work amenities, both direct (primary and secondary source materials, lights, desks, chairs, computers) and indirect (kitchen amenities and sleeping amenities). 

Notable Successes of 2019

  • Increase of internet speed and reliability by upgrading internet service and installing two additional routers throughout the Quarry Farm main house.
  • Creation of a large workspace in the Library.
  • Acquisition of recently published books pertaining to Mark Twain Studies.

Notable Goals for 2020

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

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 its records available 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.  

Notable Successes of 2019

Notable Goals of 2020

  • Digitization of Ernest Koppe’s diary, a longtime caretaker at Quarry Farm.
  • Assessment and digitization of select documents from the Park Church Archive.
  • Creation of an “Archivist Statement” for incoming Quarry Farm Fellows-in-residence, informing them of the resources and services available in the Mark Twain Archive.

Bim standing by Susan Crane as she prepares to throw ball for dogs, Osmon and Bruce, at Quarry Farm (1895) James B. Pond Photograph Series, 115.

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

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

In 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), after a multi-day inspection, 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 middle of implementing a multi-year, multi-phased project called Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements 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
  • Phase IV (2021) – CMTS starts the installation of the environmental control systems

Notable Successes of 2019

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.
  • Participation in the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation’s (FAIC) “Collections Assessment Program” (CAP).  This program sponsored two nationally-respected preservation specialists to come to Quarry Farm for three days and give recommendations to help improve the preservation of the main house and the collections within it.  Michael Henry, a preservation engineer, focused on the main house; and Wendy Jessup, a curator, focused on the collections (books, furniture, textiles, et cetera).  This report will be used directly in 2020 to help improve Quarry Farm preservation strategies and will also be used to help win future preservation grants in 2020 and 2021.  This helps fulfill Phase II of the Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections.
  • Major renovation of the kitchen in the Caretaker’s Apartment.
  • Completion of medium and lower-level priority preservation projects, including the removal of two dying trees, repair of the Maid’s Cottage porch, general painting of sections of Quarry Farm exterior, and replacement of rotted flashing on the Quarry Farm roof.

Notable Goals for 2020

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)
  • Complete Historical Structure Report for the Mark Twain Study.
  • Explore feasibility and possibly apply to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) “Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections” grant program in order to fund a “Replacement Reserve Study.”  A Replacement Reserve Study is a powerful tool for planning for the  stewardship and health of the physical assets of Quarry Farm; the Study will inform the institutional budgeting and funding needed for Quarry Farm.  This action step was recommended by the 2019 Quarry Farm CAP Report.
  • Seek out other historic preservation grants to help fulfill Phase III of the Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections.
  • Acquire funding for a Quarry Farm Historic Landscape Report via the Preservation League of New York State’s “Preserve New York” grant program. A Historic Landscape Report documents the history, significance, and treatment of a historic landscape, namely the view of the Chemung River Valley from the Quarry Farm Porch and the original site of the Mark Twain Study.  This report evaluates the history and integrity of the landscape, including any changes to its geographical context and offers suggestions for its preservation and maintenance.
  • Create plan to improve drainage of the yard immediately surrounding the Quarry Farm main house for implementation in 2021.
  • Engage a Fire Protection Engineer to evaluate the feasibility of fire protection system. This action step was recommended by the 2019 Quarry Farm CAP Report.
  • Acquire and install a home electrical generator for Quarry Farm. Due to its rural location, Quarry Farm experiences occasional unexpected power blackouts.  The purchase and installation of residential backup generator will ensure a continuous flow of power and will bring more security and comfort to the scholars-in-residence and help avoid potential damage to the main house due to system failures. This action step was recommended by the 2019 Quarry Farm CAP Report.
  • Acquire a commercial grade zero-turn lawnmower for Quarry Farm. The main house of Quarry Farm is surrounded by almost 7 acres of lawn.  CMTS prides itself on maintaining a picturesque surrounding for the scholars-in-residence and the attendees of the “Trouble Begins” lectures.  Frequent mowing and maintaining of the lawn help keep the lawn healthy and eliminates pests from the grass.  It also ensures that various pieces of debris are picked up cleared on a frequent basis. Regular mowing ensures stronger grass, even growth, creation of mulch, and fast recovery from inclement weather and diseases.
  • Paint Barn at Quarry Farm. The Barn at Quarry Farm was converted to a public speaking space more than twenty years ago.  Most of the talks for the “Trouble Begins” lecture series occur here.  As a result, the Barn is the most public space on the grounds at Quarry Farm since the general public is not allowed inside the main house.  The Barn has not had a fresh layer of paint in over fifteen years.  A fresh             layer of paint will serve a strong line of defense against weather, insects, and other types of damage.
  • Create and implement “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. This action step was recommended by the 2019 Quarry Farm CAP Report.
  • Create a sustained campaign to catalog documentation of the original design, construction, and alteration of the house, and for subsequent repairs of the building. Documentation includes specifications, contracts, correspondences, and contractor submittals. This action step was recommended by the 2019 Quarry Farm CAP Report.
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 2019

  • Implementation of the “Quarry Farm Legacy Preservation Campaign.” The campaign was   solely for the purpose of raising funds for a fire-suppression system at Quarry Farm and helped fulfill Phase II of the Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections (See Strategic Goal D). CMTS is happy to report that over $135,000 was raised for this capital campaign.
  • Acquisition of $7,800 from the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation’s (FAIC) for participation in its “Collections Assessment Program.”  FAIC sponsored two preservation specialists to come to Quarry Farm and make recommendations for the preservation of the main house and the collections within it.

Notable Goals of 2020

  • Explore feasibility and possibly complete grant application from the National Endowment for the Humanities “Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections” program as part of Phase III of the Master Plan for Interior Environmental Improvements for Quarry Farm and Its Collections (See Strategic Goal D).
  • Complete grant application from the Preservation of New York State’s “Preserve New York” Program for the acquisition of a historic landscape report.
  • Explore the feasibility of creating a Quarry Farm Preservation Endowment, led by a board of directors made up of Elmira College Trustees, Mark Twain Studies scholars, local business leaders, and other persons of interest. 
  • Create and implement the “Stewards of Quarry Farm Club.”  Admission to this elite group will be a one-time donation of $5,000.  Benefit to this organization will be 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.
  • Create resources aimed at increasing grant writing success. CMTS will 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.  Related to this, CMTS will also execute a survey of all Mark Twain Studies related publications since the CMTS’ inception and tabulate and document all mentions of CMTS and other related entities and person in the books of Mark Twain Studies scholars.
  • Petition the Provost of Elmira College for a Graduate Assistant.  If successful, part of the responsibilities of this position will be assisting the Director in grant writing.

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