Nathaniel Ball, CMTS’ Archivist, Reveals Rare Photos of Quarry Farm in Upcoming CCHS Talk

The 2018 Mark Twain Lecture Series, hosted by the Chemung County Historical Society and the Center for Mark Twain Studies, continues on Thursday, August 16 at the Chemung Valley Museum (415 East Water St., Elmira).  The lecture begins at 7:00 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

“Through the Lens of the Langdons: Capturing Elmira, 1889-1891” Nathaniel Ball, Elmira College

George Eastman’s invention of the Kodak Series 540 in 1888, whose slogan simply stated, “you push a button, we do the rest,” made representational family photography possible.  The Langdon family as early adopters of this new technology, captured images that enrich the portrayal of Mark Twain’s Elmira – depicting the social life, landmarks, and activities central to the family experience – at a time when innovation had moved photography beyond the professional setting, allowing for an intimate vision to be achieved. This presentation will explore the historic significance of these never before seen photographs and how they fit into the narrative of Samuel Clemens’s life.

Nathaniel Ball, a native of nearby Campbell, New York, returned to the Southern Tier as sole archivist for the voluminous Twain-related collections housed in the Mark Twain Archive 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. Nathaniel joined the faculty in July 2015 after working for Truman State University and the Adirondack Museum. He holds a Masters degree in Library & Information Science from Kent State University.

About Chemung County Historical Society

Founded in 1923, the Chemung County Historical Society is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of the Chemung Valley region. First chartered by New York State in 1947, today CCHS operates two cultural repositories, the Chemung Valley History Museum and the Booth Library. We are the largest general history museum in our region. Open year round, CCHS tells the history of Chemung County through interactive exhibits, educational programming and lectures for visitors of all ages. The Chemung County Historical Society is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and receives funding from the New York State Council on the Arts.

About the Center for Mark Twain Studies
The Elmira College Center for Mark Twain Studies was founded in January 1983 with the gift of Quarry Farm to Elmira College by Jervis Langdon, the great-grand-nephew of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Center offers distinctive programs to foster and support Mark Twain scholarship and to strengthen the teaching of Mark Twain at all academic levels. The Center serves the Elmira College community and regional, national, and international students and scholars of Mark Twain.



Writing Desk in the Quarry Farm Parlor where Twain wrote large portions of “Roughing It”

The Center for Mark Twain Studies offers nine Quarry Farm fellowships for 2018 to any scholar working in the field of Mark Twain Studies at any career stage, giving Fellows the opportunity to work on academic or creative projects at Quarry Farm, the family home of Twain’s sister- and brother-in-law, Susan and Theodore Crane. Twain and his family lived at Quarry Farm for over twenty summers. During this time, in an octagonal study located about one hundred yards from the main house, Mark Twain wrote the majority of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other major works. Fellows are consistently struck by the beauty and quiet of the home and its surroundings, an environment inspiring in its own right and especially conducive to writing and research.

Reflecting the mission of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Quarry Farm Fellowships foster and support scholarship and creative works related to Mark Twain, including, but not limited to, his literature, life, family, associations, influences, reception, and significance. The fellowship selection process aims to assist scholars and artists in producing work of highest distinction and cultivate a diverse community of scholars across backgrounds, specializations, and ranks.

Mark Twain was interested in a myriad of different subjects. The Quarry Farm Fellowships reflect Twain’s insatiable curiosity. Not only are scholars in the field of literature and history encouraged to apply, but applicants from any academic or creative field are eligible for fellowships. While projects focusing on a critical analysis of Twain’s literary corpus are common, projects emerging from cultural studies, media studies, gender studies, environmental science, political science, economics, and the creative arts are also most welcome.

One of the most important literary landmarks in the U.S., Quarry Farm is also a fully functional scholar’s retreat with updated, well-equipped work spaces. Quarry Farm Fellows have access to an extensive 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.  The house is equipped with wireless internet access.

Fellows will be assured of their privacy since they will be the sole occupants of main house during their stay.  Immediate family members may accompany Quarry Farm Fellows, but this must be pre-arranged with the Director. Fellows have access to a fully equipped kitchen and shared laundry. Linens are provided. The pantry and refrigerator will be stocked with supplies upon the Fellow’s arrival. A full-time Caretaker is on the premises in an apartment adjacent to, but separate from the main house, and is available to assist Fellows throughout their residency.

In addition, Fellows are welcome to use the Mark Twain Archive located in the Gannett-Tripp Library on Elmira College’s nearby campus. The Archive houses an exhaustive assemblage of biography, criticism, and reference sources; microfilm of material related to Elmira from the collections of the Mark Twain Project, the Mark Twain House, Vassar College, and the Huntington Library; and a library of photographs. The Archive also holds the association volumes from Quarry Farm, containing Mark Twain’s marginalia, the Antenne Collection of books from Mark Twain’s personal library, and the John S. Tuckey Collection of more than two hundred and fifty scholarly titles. The Collection is updated continuously.

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

Nine Quarry Farm Fellowships will be offered in 2018:

  • Three one-month residencies, including housing at Quarry Farm and a $1500 honorarium for each residency
  • Six two-week residencies, including housing at Quarry Farm and a $1000 honorarium for each residency
  • At least one month-long and two two-week fellowships will be reserved for graduate students, contingent faculty, and faculty three or fewer years removed from completion of their Ph.D.


  1. Fellowships require fellows to be in residence for a majority of their fellowship.
  2. Fellows are expected to work on their proposed scholarly or creative projects while they are in residency.
  3. Fellows must provide a short summary (maximum 500 words) of what they accomplished during their residency and an evaluation of the resources they used at Quarry Farm and in the Archives within 30 days of leaving Quarry Farm.
  4. CMTS encourages Quarry Farm Fellows, especially those who plan to apply for future residencies, to provide updates on the progress of their research, including publications, exhibitions, performances, and scholarly presentations. Such updates assist CMTS in fulfilling its mission of service to Mark Twain Studies, as well as helping us assess the fellowship process.

Application Process

Applications must be submitted to [email protected] or to Dr. Joseph Lemak, the Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, at [email protected]. Applications for 2018 will be accepted until November 30, 2017.  Applicants are notified when applications are received, and are notified of the fellowship competition outcome by January 31, 2018.

Application Content

  1. Contact and biographical information about the applicant
  2. A curriculum vitae of no more than 10 pages
  3. A cover letter of no more than 1500 words describing the research project, its scholarly significance, progress to date, and the candidate’s professional background relevant to the
  4. One letter of reference from an official “sponsor.” This person should directly know the candidate and the candidate’s work (preferably the primary advisor for a graduate student or a mentor figure for early career scholars). Senior scholars with a significant history of relevant publication and an ongoing relationship with the Center for Mark Twain Studies may waive the reference letter if desired. Sponsors who wish to submit their letter of reference via email should send them to [email protected] or [email protected].   Reference letters must be received at the Center by the application deadline. Consideration of letters received after that date cannot be guaranteed.

Application Criteria

Fellows will be chosen by a seven person selection committee after an initial screening process by the staff of the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Applications will be judged based on the following factors:

  1. The project’s potential value to Mark Twain Studies and associated fields.
  2. The clarity, relevance, and current status of the specific project being proposed.

Quarry Farm Fellowship Selection Committee

  • Nathaniel Ball, Archivist of the Mark Twain Archives, Elmira College
  • Jocelyn Chadwick, President, National Council of Teachers of English; Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities; Professor of English, and Director of American Studies, Stanford University
  • Judith Yaross Lee, Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies & Charles E. Zumkehr Professor of Rhetoric, Ohio University
  • Joseph Lemak, Director of the Center for Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College
  • Andrew Levy, Full Professor, Edna Cooper Chair in English, Butler University
  • Matthew Seybold, Assistant Professor of American Literature and Mark Twain Studies, Elmira College

Quarry Farm Fellowship Application (PDF VERSION)