Strategic Plan 2022-2024

Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies Strategic Plan 2022-2024


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 2021 annual cycle was a successful one, in no small part the result of the strategic planning decision-making process. Key highlights include:

Programming and Outreach

  • Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS hosted and aided the research of ten established and emerging 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 to take advantage of one of the most comprehensive libraries dedicated to Mark Twain Studies located on the premises.
  • Facilitation of the Eighth Annual Quarry Farm Symposium.  At this year’s “Mark Twain and The West: Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Roughing It” symposium several of the papers presented at the three-day 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.
  • The American Vandal released two twelve-episode seasons between October 2020 and June 2021. These episodes have so far been streamed and/or downloaded at least 6,000 times, and most likely much more since CMTS does not have reliable statistics from all the platforms where they are available. One of the episodes from Season 2 was featured in Apple Podcasts year-end “Best of 2021” packaging.
  • Update and expansion of the Mark Twain Exhibit.  With the introduction of instructional posters in the hallway leading up to the exhibit room, the overall space now better informs visitors of the importance of the Langdon family, Quarry Farm, Mark Twain’s experiences in Elmira, and CMTS itself.  The exhibit room has also been revamped with a collection of images, texts, and artifacts focusing on Mark Twain’s relationship with a number of Elmira College faculty, administrators, and trustees.

Physical and Financial Resources

  • Employed an engineering firm to create a plan to improve drainage of the lawn immediately surrounding the Quarry Farm main house and to perform a hydraulic analysis of the Quarry Farm entire roof drainage system.
  • Created a restoration and rehabilitation plan for the Mark Twain Study and implemented a number of the action steps including the installation of more historically accurate steps and railing, the restoration of sections of the roof and lower wood planks, and the removal of non-historic surrounding hedges
  • Employed an interior designer to reorganize the second-floor of the Quarry Farm main house with an emphasis on better workspaces, increased comfort for scholars, and more room for bookshelves.
  • Added custom-built historically sensitive bookshelves to the second-floor of the main house at Quarry Farm, greatly increasing the library’s capacity.
  • Raised monies for the preservation and restoration of the Mark Twain Study, specifically from, but not limited to, the Corning Foundation and the Hilliard Foundation.
  • Received a $10,000 grant from the Preservation of New York State’s “Preserve New York” Program for the acquisition of a historic landscape report for Quarry Farm.

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
  • Sarah Grossman, Director of Communications and Content Strategy at Elmira College
  • Dr. Lawrence Howe, Mark Twain Circle of America Representative and Professor Emeritus of English at Roosevelt University
  • Elise Johnson-Schmidt, Principal Architect and Owner of Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Architects
  • Dr. Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies
  • Dr. Matt Seybold, Associate Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College and Editor-in-Chief of MarkTwainStudies.org
  • Steve Webb, Quarry Farm Caretaker

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

  • Dr. Charles Lindsay, President at Elmira College
  • Dr. Patricia Ireland, Provost at Elmira College

Any questions about the CMTS 2022-2024 Strategic Plan should be directed to Dr. Joseph Lemak ([email protected])

Vision Statement

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

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


Mission Statement

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

Fulfillment of the Mission Statement and CMTS Responsibilities

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

The responsibilities of CMTS include oversight and preservation of two historic landmarks: Quarry Farm, which has been designated a cultural humanities site dedicated to scholars and writers working in Mark Twain Studies, and the Mark Twain Study, now located on the Elmira College campus.  Starting in 1871 and for over twenty consecutive summers, Twain lived at Quarry Farm and worked in his octagonal Study.  It was here that the author wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important works, signifying his most productive and successfully creative time of his life.


Organizational History

The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies is known and respected world-wide as one of the premier sites for the research and study of Mark Twain.  Following a long tradition of associations between Mark Twain, the Langdon family, and Elmira College, CMTS was established in 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College from Samuel Clemens’s great-grandnephew, Jervis Langdon, Jr.

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

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

The professional significance of this voyage was matched by a personal one.  On board the Quaker City, Clemens met Charles Langdon, the brother of Clemens’ future wife. The Langdons were a wealthy Elmira, New York family, and the eighteen-year-old “Charley” Langdon had been sent by his father Jervis to the Mediterranean in order to gain worldly perspective. Despite the age difference between Charley and the thirty-one-year-old Sam Clemens, the two became friends. One day aboard the Quaker City, Charley Langdon felt compelled by homesickness to show Clemens a miniature portrait of his sister Olivia.

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

Susan Langdon Crane

Starting in 1870, at the prime of his creative life, Clemens summered at Quarry Farm, the home of Olivia’s sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Theodore Crane in Elmira.  Nearly every year until 1891, the Clemens family members divided their time between their own home in Hartford, Connecticut, and Quarry Farm.  While life in Hartford was happy, hectic, and very social, in Elmira, life was slower.  At Quarry Farm the family was more isolated and away from distractions, creating an environment that was conducive to relaxation and where Twain could concentrate on his writings.  Additionally, Livy could be close to her family.  All three of Twain’s daughters were born in Elmira, two at Quarry Farm.

In 1874, after Mark Twain had already successfully published his best sellers, The Innocents Abroad (1869) and Roughing It (1872), Susan and Theodore Crane surprised him with a small octagonal study.  The Study was built on a secluded high knoll, one hundred yards from the Quarry Farm main house.  In this small structure Mark Twain wrote many of his best works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), A Tramp Abroad (1880), The Prince and The Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889).  A number of important short stories and essays were also inspired and composed at Quarry Farm, including “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It,” a short story recounting the life of ex-slave Mary Ann Cord, who was the housekeeper at Quarry Farm.

Ida Langdon

 The Clemens family spent its last summer at Quarry Farm in 1903.  Clemens spent the rest of his life abroad and in various places in the United States until his death on April 21, 1910.  He was buried in the Langdon plot in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery, alongside his wife and four children.  After Twain’s death, the Langdon family took two important steps to help preserve the legacy of Mark Twain.  First, in 1952, Twain’s niece, Dr. Ida Langdon, a professor of English at Elmira College, presented Twain’s Study to Elmira College locating it at the heart of the Elmira College campus where it remains on display for the general public.  It is one of the most well-known literary landmarks in the United States.  Second, in 1983, Jervis Langdon, Jr., the great-grandnephew of Twain, donated Quarry Farm to Elmira College.  In a document entitled “The Four Party Agreement,” Jervis Langdon, Jr. bequeathed Quarry Farm to Elmira College with two basic purposes: first, “to assure that Quarry Farm, as a residence, will be properly maintained and preserved, and the grounds included in the donation will be cared for and protected, including the trees, lawns, shrubbery, flowers, and wild life;” and second, “to have the residence at Quarry Farm available as a center for the study of Mark Twain and as a temporary home for such members of the faculty of the College, visiting scholars, and graduate students as may be designated, from time to time, by the President of the College, because of their interest in Mark Twain, his works, his philosophy, and the environment in which he lived.”  These words created the Center for Mark Twain Studies.  While Jervis Langdon, Jr. and Elmira College constituted the two primary members of “The Four Party Agreement,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Chemung County Historical Society rounded out the other two.  It became the responsibility of these two secondary organizations to assure that Elmira College carry out Jervis Langdon, Jr.’s intentions.  As a result, Elmira College must submit an annual preservation report to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Chemung County Historical Society.

Jervis Langdon Jr.

Jervis Langdon Jr.’s gift of Quarry Farm included the contents of the main house with many nineteenth-century association pieces of furniture and other treasures, such as the books in the Quarry Farm library that often reflect the reading habits of an erudite family.  Of particular interest are the books from the Langdon and Crane collections that were read by Mark Twain.  Numerous annotations, often dated and written in pencil by Mark Twain, have been discovered in the margins of many of these books. 

Honoring Jervis Langdon, Jr’s vision, Quarry Farm offers fellowships-in-residence to scholars pursuing research or writing in the field of Mark Twain Studies.  As one of the most important literary landmarks in American history, Quarry Farm is cultural humanities site, a building whose sole purpose is to provide inspiration and resources to scholars, writers, and artists working in the field of Mark Twain Studies.  Quarry Farm Fellows have access to twenty-first century workspaces, a nearly complete Mark Twain Studies reference collection on the premises, including the complete Oxford Mark Twain facsimile edition and Mark Twain Project publications as well as up-to-date secondary and reference works dedicated to Mark Twain Studies, while at the same time being surrounded by nineteenth century books, furniture, textiles, and painting, almost all of which were present during Twain’s time at Quarry Farm.  Furthermore, Quarry Farm Fellows have access to one of the best collections of secondary scholarly material dedicated to Mark Twain Studies shelved on the premises.

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

Finally, CMTS houses some of its Twain material in the Mark Twain Archive on the Elmira College campus.  The Mark Twain Archive affords scholars the uniquely rewarding experience of ready access to a collection of primary and secondary sources on Twain.  In addition to various editions of Twain’s works, the Mark Twain Archive collection includes photographs; books from Twain’s personal library and the library at Quarry Farm; secondary source books, articles, and collections related to Mark Twain, his literature, and his circle; and microfilm letters and manuscripts from the Mark Twain collections at the Bancroft library in Berkeley, the Mark Twain Memorial in Hartford, Vassar College, and the Huntington Library.  Through the generosity of donors over the years, the collection has also a fine collection of Mark Twain titles in over a dozen 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 also includes a collection of decorative art such as 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 project 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 when Mark Twain resided at Quarry Farm, 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. 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, Sam Clemens’s niece.  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., has recently published his research 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.  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.

The collections at Quarry Farm provide fellows-in-residence 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 Quarry Farm’s unique ambiance and ideal writing environment, scholars have made a practice of acknowledging their residencies 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 2022.  All biographies and projects of the Class of 2022 Quarry Farm Fellows, and past classes of Fellows, can be found at MarkTwainStudies.org.

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

Joseph Lemak became the Director of CMTS in January 2016. He also holds the title of Assistant Professor of History at Elmira College and teaches a number of European history courses every year.  He served Elmira College in various roles for over twenty years, most recently as Director of the Academic Writing Program and the Writing Center.  Joe holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He organizes the Quarry Farm Fellowships, all CMTS lecture series, the annual symposia, the quadrennial International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, and the Summer Teacher Institute.  Joe oversees all financial and budgetary matters, fund raising, grant writing, strategic planning, and the preservation and maintenance efforts of the Mark Twain Study and Quarry Farm.

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

Matt Seybold joined the Elmira College in July 2015.  He earned his Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine in 2012 after which he worked at The University of Alabama. He teaches courses on all periods of American Literature, as well as interdisciplinary courses on mass media and economics.  Upon hiring, Matt made the creation of a digital presence for the Center for Mark Twain Studies his highest priority and, with support from Director Lemak and Dr. Mitchell, oversaw the design and launch of MarkTwainStudies.org in October 2016.  He sees the website as a repository for an evolving range of Twain-related resources, as well as a broader, more democratic means of serving CMTS’ unique mission.

Kathy Solometo works part-time as the Administrative Assistant for the Center for Mark Twain Studies.  She came to Elmira College in 2005 after an early retirement from the corporate world.  Kathy graduated from Central City Business Institute and continued her education with course in Business and Marketing at Elmira College.  She has worked in various positions at Elmira College including full-time work with CMTS from 2008-2012.  She entered full retirement but in 2020 decided she would like to rejoin the workforce and preferred to work for CMTS.

Steve Webb has been the resident caretaker at Quarry Farm since the winter of 2013.  Steve is an experienced landscaper and repairman with an Associate degree in Environmental Science from Finger Lakes Community College, as well as a talented composer and musician.  Steve is the direct supervisor of the groundskeepers and cleaning staff at Quarry Farm, as well as the CMTS on-site project manager for all Quarry Farm preservation projects.  He serves as the direct liaison of CMTS to all Quarry Farm residents.









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


Foundation and Corporate Sponsors 

(in alphabetical order)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Strategic Goals

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

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

A1. Enhance and sustain services for the scholarly community

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

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

Notable Successes of 2021

  • Continuation of the Quarry Farm Fellowship program.  CMTS hosted and aided the research of ten established and emerging 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 most comprehensive libraries dedicated to Mark Twain Studies located on the premises.
  • Facilitation of the Eighth Annual Quarry Farm Symposium.  At this year’s “Mark Twain and The West: Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Roughing It” symposium several of the papers presented at the three-day 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.  The symposium asked sixteen scholars working in many disciplinary, historical, and media specialties to re-engage with Roughing It and examine Twain’s relationship to all aspects of the American West. All talks were video recorded and made available to the general public on the CMTS YouTube Channel and MarkTwainStudies.org.  CMTS had the opportunity to fund one graduate student who presented at symposium.
  • Facilitation of eleven online lectures as part of the fall and spring “Trouble Begins” Lecture Series and the Park Church Summer Lecture Series.  All of these lectures were video recorded and made accessible on the CMTS YouTube Channel and MarkTwainStudies.org.  CMTS tries to strike a healthy balance between lectures from established, senior scholars and new voices in Mark Twain Studies, including senior scholars who do not identify as “Mark Twain scholars,” early career scholars, and graduate students.

Notable Goals for 2022

  • Facilitate Elmira 2022: The Ninth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, a quadrennial conference recognized as the largest gathering of Mark Twain Studies scholars in the world. CMTS has acquired respected Mark Twain Studies scholars Shelley Fisher Fishkin (Stanford University) and Tracy Wuster (University of Texas, Austin) as co-chairs for the conference.  In addition to scholarly presentations, the conference will have events that provide contexts for Mark Twain and his life in Elmira, and will also feature a keynote speech by Jimmy Santiago Baca, an award-winning writer for whom Twain has been an important influence.
  • Facilitate the Ninth Quarry Farm Symposium, “Abolition Studies.” The symposium seeks to take an intentionally transhistorical approach to the field of abolition studies through panels and discussions that attend to the long duree of abolitionist thought, activism, and organizing from the 19th to the 21st centuries.  The symposium keynote address will be delivered by Sarah Haley (University of California, Los Angeles), author of No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (2016).
  • Facilitate “From Seminar Paper to Publishable Article: A Workshop for Graduate Students and Recent PhDs” a writing and research institute for advanced graduate students and recent PhDs working in Mark Twain Studies at Quarry Farm in collaboration with the Mark Twain Circle of America.  The workshop will take place immediately after Elmira 2022: The Ninth International Conference on the State of Mark   Twain Studies. Participants selected for the workshop who choose to attend the quadrennial conference will have their conference fees, lodging, and food waived.

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.  In the past twelve months (from August 2020 to July 2021), MarkTwainStudies.org has hosted over 216,000 visitors, a full 96% increase over the preceding twelve-month period. Since launching in 2016, the site has accumulated hundreds of pages of resources potentially relevant to teachers and students at all levels.

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

Recently the focus of the MTS.org has shifted somewhat to a greater emphasis on digital resources, digital editions, and digital archives. While the blog will always remain part of what drives traffic to the site, CMTS is interested in digitizing Twain-related resources that are not widely available to scholars and the general public. Mark  Twain Day By Day is the most exhaustive example of the kind of resources, but CMTS has also retained rights to editions of shorter, more obscure works like Drinking With TwainFrederick Douglass’s Emancipation Day speech, and Susan Crane’s correspondence with Underground Railroad historian, Wilbur Siebert. This past year CMTS also retained the rights to Charles Neider’s Mark Twain & The Russians: An Exchange of Views with the aim of publishing a digital edition in 2022. More Twain-related primary and secondary sources will be entering the public domain in coming years, and even living scholars may be interested in getting wider circulation for out-of-print works. CMTS should make an effort to publish 1-2 major projects of this sort each year. 

Notable Successes of 2021

  • Progress made with Mark Twain Day by Day Online project.  In 2020 CMTS acquired the digital rights to the seminal reference work Mark Twain Day by Day.  CMTS has hired 6Floors Consulting, a digital humanities consulting firm (Sharon Leon, Ph.D., principal and director of public projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media), to help with the process of modernizing the delivery of the current online version found on MarkTwainStudies.org, including technical consultation and strategies for grant writing. The overall goal is to make the online version more accessible and useful to key audiences.  Since this important reference work is not physically available at most libraries, the project will have a profound effect on the everyday research methodology for Twain scholars and enthusiasts. 
  • The American Vandal released two twelve-episode seasons between October 2020 and June 2021. These episodes have so far been streamed and/or downloaded at least 6,000 times, and most likely much more since CMTS does not have reliable statistics from all the platforms where they are available. The podcast often involves scholars from outside the traditional Twain Studies community and clearly reaches an audience who may not have previously engaged with CMTS programming. Episodes about HBO’s Lovecraft Country and Exterminate All The Brutes facilitated direct engagement between scholars and creators. One of the episodes from Season 2 of The American Vandal was featured in Apple Podcasts year-end “Best of 2021” packaging.
  • An online observance of Emancipation Day, a celebration of the history and ongoing project of abolition. On the original Emancipation Day – August 3rd, 1880 – the Black community of the Southern Tier, potentially as many as 15,000 strong, gathered in Elmira. The event was scheduled to coincide with the anniversary of the adoption of the British Abolition Act in the West Indies, and the festivities included religious services, banquets, picnics, military balls, and a parade in Elmira where the keynote speaker, Frederick Douglass, addressed the crowd for two hours. With help from several local and national archives, CMTS was able to reconstruct Douglass’s speech from that day, which is now available for free at MarkTwainStudies.org along with digital editions of the documents the reconstruction is based upon. CMTS also produced supplementary resources about how the event was organized locally, covered in the local press, and, of course, the likely presence in the audience of Mark Twain.
  • Video recorded 29 lectures and paper presentations. All of these are available on CMTS YouTube Channel and The “Trouble Begins” Archive.

Notable Goals for 2022

  • CMTS’ partnership with Mark Twain Circle now includes a commitment from that organization to solicit and edit scholarly blogposts for MarkTwainStudies.org. MTC provided only one such post in 2021, but have already delivered three for publication in 2022. Our hope is that they will eventually provide 6-12 well- researched and carefully-composed articles each year, in addition to those solicited and written by CMTS staff. 
  • Season 3 of The American Vandal Podcast marked a shift in format. Going forward, each season will be a miniseries (usually between 2 and 5 episodes). These episodes will be thematically-linked, and some series will be hosted and produced by guest scholars. Two such series are in production for 2022, one on Twain’s relationship with Native Americans and another on the philosophical school of Afropessimism. CMTS will continue to produce 2-3 series a year as well.
  • Explore how the Elmira College IT department can assist CMTS with MarkTwainStudies.org and Mark Twain Day by Day Online.

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

Steve Webb (left) leading a Quarry Farm field trip

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, often times filled with Quarry Farm residents. 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 Summer Teachers Institute, a two-day workshop for local teachers interested in bringing Mark Twain Studies more effectively into their classroom; and 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 2021

  • Update and expansion of the Mark Twain Exhibit.  With the introduction of instructional posters in the hallway leading up to the exhibit room, the overall space now better informs visitors of the importance of the Langdon family, Quarry Farm, Mark Twain’s experiences in Elmira, and CMTS itself.  The exhibit room has also been revamped with a collection of images, texts, and artifacts focusing on Mark Twain’s relationship with a number of Elmira College faculty, administrators, and trustees.

Notable Goals for 2022

  • Help organize an exhibit at the Chemung Valley History Museum focusing on a reconstruction of specific rooms of the Langdon mansion.  Once a central landmark for Elmira, the Langdon mansion was demolished in 1938. Many items of furniture from the Langdon mansion are currently at Quarry Farm and will be will be used in the exhibit.  The exhibit will correspond with sesquicentennial anniversary of the Mark Twain Study.
  • Facilitate an in-person Summer Teachers Institute at Elmira College and Quarry Farm.
  • Incorporate a member of the Elmira College Center for Academic and Professional Excellence as lead organizer of the Mark Twain Study Ambassador Program.  This much needed help has been approved by the Elmira College Provost.
  • Explore and organize events for the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Mark Twain Study in 2023.

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, hosting 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 2021

  • Continuation of the annual “Portraying Mark Twain Art Contest” and Mark Twain Essay   Contest. Each student was awarded a monetary prize ranging from $75-$250 for their artistic and writing skills.
  • An information session focusing on the legacy of Mark Twain in Elmira and the history of the CMTS was incorporated into the Elmira College freshman orientation program.
  • Visiting scholars attended the EC English class “Mark Twain and His Literature;” while students in the EC Fine Arts painting classes visited Quarry Farm for inspiration.
  • Elmira College Students in the Honors Program were given a guided tour of Quarry Farm.

Notable Goals for 2022

  • Assist students in the EC History class “Museum Studies” with their efforts to create a display focusing on some aspect of Mark Twain in Elmira to be displayed in the   Quarry Farm Barn.
  • Create incentive for EC community to participate in Quarry Farm Mountain Day Hike
  • Continue its existing service to Elmira College, namely its employment of student workers, creative arts and writing contests, and support of the EC Honors program.

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

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

In addition to typical annual preservation, maintenance, repairs, nationally respected preservation architects and engineers Elise Johnson-Schmidt (Johnson-Schmidt & Associates, Corning, NY), Michael C. Henry (Watson & Henry Associates, Bridgeton, NJ and University of Pennsylvania), and Wendy Jessup (Wendy Jessup & Associates, Arlington, VA) have established that established that fire suppression and 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.

CMTS’s other important historic structure, the Mark Twain Study, is approaching its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2024.  The landmark anniversary of one of the most important and iconic structures in American literature will be an important event for CMTS, Elmira College, the city of Elmira, and the surrounding region. It is imperative that the structure be in top form as it is recognized and celebrated.

In late 2021, CMTS experienced a substantial setback with funding for the installation of high-pressure mist fire suppression system at Quarry Farm.  This setback is concerning since fire has been established as the top threat to Quarry Farm.  As a result, CMTS needs to alter its long-term planning of Quarry Farm’s restoration preservation.  Going forward, CMTS will carry out the following:

  1. CMTS will install an early warning fire alarm system.  While this is not an ideal situation,   an early warning fire alarm system will alert the Caretaker, Quarry Farm residents, and the local fire department and help minimize any damage caused by a fire.
  2. CMTS will complete all the projects started in 2021 and planned for 2022.  CMTS is still under contract and/or still in process with four projects from 2021.  All of the 2022 projects directly deal with excess moisture and precipitation, the second biggest preservation concern to Quarry Farm.
  3. After 2022, CMTS scale back its proactive preservation/restoration approach to Quarry Farm and focus much more on raising funds for the high-pressure mist fire suppression system. Since fire is the biggest threat to Quarry Farm, no other large-scale preservation/restoration projects should be undertaken until the sufficient funds (an estimated $400,000) have been raised.

Notable Successes of 2021

Quarry Farm
  • Employed a civil engineering firm to create a plan to improve drainage of the lawn immediately surrounding the Quarry Farm main house.
  • Employed an engineering firm to perform a hydraulic analysis of the Quarry Farm entire roof drainage system.
  • Repaired a number of leaks in the Quarry Farm roof.
  • Created a restoration and rehabilitation plan for the Mark Twain Study and implemented a number of the action steps including the installation of more historically accurate steps and railing, the restoration of sections of the roof and lower wood planks, and the removal of non-historic surrounding hedges
  • Employed Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture, LLC to provide a cultural landscape report for Quarry Farm. The document will provide a site history of the Quarry Farm landscape, detail existing conditions, and provide a strategy for long-term planning concerning the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of the Quarry Farm property.

Notable Goals for 2022

Samuel Clemens Looking out from the study window, Quarry Farm, East Hill, Elmira New York.
Mark Twain looking out of the Study at Quarry Farm (1903)
  • Install a fire alarm in the main house of Quarry Farm, paying close attention to preserving historic integrity.
  • Improve the drainage around the main house of Quarry Farm with a series of grade changes and French drains.
  • Restore and/or replace the entire Quarry Farm roof gutter system with special attention of improving its capacity.
  • Acquire a cultural landscape report from Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture, LLC.
  • Restore and/or replace the wallpaper in the Crane and Twain bedrooms at Quarry Farm
  • Repair the main chimney at Quarry Farm.
  • Continue restoring the Mark Twain Study in preparation for the 2024 sesquicentennial anniversary with special emphasis on repainting the entire structure and restoring the windows.

C. Improve the Quarry Farm experience for all residents

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

Notable Successes of 2021

  • Employed an interior designer to reorganize the second-floor of the Quarry Farm main house with an emphasis on better workspaces, increased comfort for scholars, and more room for bookshelves.
  • Added custom-built historically sensitive bookshelves to the second-floor of the main house at Quarry Farm, greatly increasing the library’s capacity.
  • Converted the spare bedroom on the second floor into a workspace.
  • Continued to acquire recently published books pertaining to Mark Twain Studies.

Notable Goals for 2022

  • Employ Walter Ritchie, Jr., 19th century furniture expert, to identify, catalog, and describe the fifteen most important interior furnishings at Quarry Farm
  • Based on Walter Ritchie, Jr.’s assessment, create a virtual QR tour of Quarry Farm for all Quarry Farm residents.
  • Purchase new workspace and lounge furniture for the second-floor at Quarry Farm.
  • Improve lighting in the first-floor library.
  • Purchase new printer for second-floor library.

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

The Mark Twain Archive, located in the Gannett-Tripp Library on the Elmira College campus, is dedicated to supporting scholarship and pedagogy related to Mark Twain.  The Mark Twain Archive serves as a repository of primary and secondary source materials related to Mark Twain and Mark Twain scholarship with particular focus on Mark Twain’s association with Elmira and his Elmira circle of family and friends.  The Mark Twain Archive collects, appraises, organizes, describes, preserves and makes its records available to advance scholarship in the field of Mark Twain Studies and provides research support and instructional services to the Mark Twain Studies community.

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

Notable Successes of 2021

  • Enrolled staff members of the Elmira College Gannett-Tripp Library, specifically Katy Galvin, Technical Services Manager, and Laura Kane, Access Services Manager, to fulfill the needs of the scholars at Quarry Farm by maintaining the collections and   locating archival materials in answer to specific research questions.
  • Created an archival repository for all paperwork associated with the restoration and preservation of Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Study.
  • Added two collections to the Quarry Farm library, namely a collection of modern literary criticism and the complete works of William Dean Howells.

Notable Goals of 2022

  • Explore ways to acquire a dedicated archivist for the Mark Twain Archive.

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 2021

  • Raised $15,000 for the preservation and restoration of the Mark Twain Study from the Corning Foundation and the Hilliard Foundation.
  • Awarded a $10,000 grant from the Preservation of New York State’s “Preserve New York”  Program for the acquisition of a historic landscape report for Quarry Farm.
  • Facilitated the first annual Stewards of Quarry Farm appreciation event.

Notable Goals of 2022

  • Continue the capital campaign to fund preservation improvements of the Mark Twain Study.
  • Initiate the capital campaign to fund a high-pressure mist fire suppression system at Quarry Farm.
  • Create a “donor appreciation” plaque for Quarry Farm and the Mark Twain Exhibit.

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