Resources for Teachers and Students

Summer Teachers Institute

Every year CMTS holds the Summer Teachers Institute. This two-day workshop is interactive, focusing on how to use Mark Twain’s time and his writings, as well as that of his contemporaries, to address Standards’ targets and create an engaged and inquiry-driven K-12 classroom. The Institute uses both primary and secondary texts, and engages conversations and thoughts from classroom teachers and students from around the country who rely on Mark Twain year after year—some with no controversy and others who are enmeshed in controversy. 

Elmira College is the perfect place to “talk Twain,” since it is the home of the international Center for Mark Twain Studies. The Center has stewardship of Quarry Farm, the summer home of Olivia Langdon Clemens’ family and site of her sister Susan Crane’s home. Quarry Farm also includes the original location of the Study as well as the landmark home where Clemens wrote and first read many of his iconic writings to his family while on the porch at “the Farm.” 

The faculty of the Summer Teachers Institute have created and gathered a number of resources, including short videos, instructional modules, instructional exemplars, and suggested Common Core pairings. All of these are available for use in the classroom.

2023 Theme: “Teaching Mark Twain’s ‘The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg'”

2022 Theme: “Mark Twain Under Assault: What Do We Do Now?”

2021 Theme: “The Journey Motif: Mark Twain and Poetry”

2020 Theme: “The New Normal: The Past Speaking to Our Student’s Present”

2019 Theme: “Mark Twain and Generation Z”

Guidelines for All Elmira Field Trips

The staff of the Center for Mark Twain Studies is happy to accommodate local school field trips all at no cost to the school. The Mark Twain Study and Quarry Farm constitute one of the cornerstones of this region’s cultural and historic legacy. CMTS endeavors to instill an appreciation of the importance of Mark Twain’s legacy in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions to the young people of the area, hopefully instilling in them a sense of pride of their local community. CMTS can accommodate groups comprised of 2nd grade students all the way through to undergraduates at the college level. The maximum size of a group is 40 students.  Contact Director Joseph Lemak ([email protected]) if you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.

Mark Twain Literacy Project

Open to all grade levels.  A special program sponsored by WENY Newschannel 36, the Mark Twain Literary Project brings a collection of Twain’s most memorable books to local classrooms, all at no cost to the school, teacher, or student.  Classrooms who take advantage of this opportunity often complement the Twain-focused lessons in the classroom with a visit to the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit on the Elmira College campus and Quarry Farm. Contact Director Joseph Lemak ([email protected]) if you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity.

2024 Quarry Farm Fireplace Creative Writing Contest

Quarry Farm Fireplace

The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 26

The Center for Mark Twain Studies encourages local elementary school teachers to discuss Mark Twain’s legacy in Elmira and the Southern Tier region of New York State.  2nd grade to 6th grade students from local schools are encouraged take part in this writing contest and submit their creative writing stories.  A “local school” is defined as being no more than 25 miles away from Quarry Farm.  Quarry Farm is the home where Mark Twain lived for over twenty consecutive summers and is the place where Twain penned The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and many other important texts. Three winners from three different schools will be chosen by the CMTS Staff.  Winners will be able to read their stories on the Quarry Farm porch.  Winners will also be able to bring a section of their class or entire classroom (depending on overall size).  The tour of Quarry Farm will conclude with Mark Twain’s favorite dessert: gingerbread, vanilla ice cream and lemonade! Contact Director Joseph Lemak ([email protected]) for more information. Click HERE to view the Quarry Farm Parlor Fireplace tiles.

Mark Twain Studies Resource Pages

CMTS is committed to giving accurate, accessible information related to Mark Twain, his literature, his circle, and his world. These resource pages have been written by Mark Twain scholars, often times experts in the particular field. These are meant to be reliable, efficient resources for teachers, students, enthusiasts, and the general public.





Virtual Tour of Quarry Farm

This virtual tour shows the entirety of Quarry Farm, the Quarry Farm grounds, the Mark Twain Study, and many other locations locations associated with CMTS.  One of the major highlights is the Quarry Farm parlor, Mary Ann Cord’s stove in the Kitchen, and the Porch where Mark Twain set “A True Story, Word For Word As I Heard It.”

Interactive Map of Elmira 1901

This map from the Library of Congress highlights the people and places that made up the Elmira community in Elmira, NY in 1901. The map emphasizes buildings and historical figures that were important to Mark Twain and the Langdon family.

Interactive Map of Woodlawn Cemetery

This online resource shows the final resting place of Mark Twain, his wife, and all his children. It also contains the Langdon family funeral plot, as well as the individual grave sites of important people in Mark Twain’s life, including Mary Ann Cord, John T. Lewis, Thomas K. Beecher, and other Elmira community members.

Mark Twain in Elmira, Second Edition (2013)

In an expanded collection of primary and secondary documents and photos, Mark Twain in Elmira recounts the story of Sam Clemens’ time in Elmira and underscores the importance of Elmira in the development of American literature.  Mark Twain in Elmira (1977) was first compiled by Robert D. Jerome, an Elmira businessman and Mark Twain researcher and collector, and Dr. Herbert A. Wisbey, Jr., and Elmira College Professor of History.  As information about Mark Twain’s life in Elmira grew, Jerome and Wisbey created a list of pieces they proposed for inclusion in a second edition.  This expanded second edition contains those suggestions as well as additional new content and photographs of interest to mark Twain scholars and enthusiasts.  Dr. Barbara Snedecor is the editor of the second edition.

Mark Twain’s Kid’s Activity Book

For grades K-2.  An activity book created by CMTS, focusing on Mark Twain’s biography and his legacy in Elmira.

Teaching Mark Twain’s ‘The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg’

A number of resources compiled by Jocelyn Chadwick and Matt Seybold dedicated to teaching one of Twain’s seminal shorter works. These resources were created for the 2023 Mark Twain Summer Teachers Institute.

Elmira College Performance of “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It”

In September 2019 members of the Elmira College community organized and performed a revised reading of Mark Twain’s “A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It (1874). The following are thoughts and reactions from faculty and students. CMTS has included the script of the stage reading, a slide show, and a rehearsal video.

Elmira College Performance Celebrating Sam and Livy’s 150th Anniversary

In February 2020 students of Elmira College performed dramatic readings of  from Mark Twain’s imagined “Diaries of Adam and Eve,” Twain’s own recollection of the wedding after Livy’s death, and Ida Langdon’s discerning thoughts about her aunt and uncle. Resources include videos from the night’s performance, as well as the script.

Important Educational Websites for Use in the Classroom

Mark Twain Project Online

University of California, Berkeley

This site applies innovative technology to more than four decades’ worth of archival research by expert editors at the Mark Twain Project. It offers unfettered, intuitive access to reliable texts, accurate and exhaustive notes, and the most recently discovered letters and documents. The site’s ultimate purpose is to produce a digital critical edition, fully annotated, of everything Mark Twain wrote. MTPO offers not only the edited texts of more than 2000 letters and several book-length writings, including Autobiography of Mark Twain, but a catalog of all Clemens-related correspondence known to the Project staff and a variety of digital research resources.

Educational Resources from the Mark Twain House and Museum (Hartford, CT)

Collection of resources includes a virtual tour shows the majestic home of Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) and and his wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens.Samuel and Olivia “Livy” Clemens were married in 1870 and moved to Hartford in 1871. The family first rented a house on Forest Street‚ in the Nook Farm neighborhood‚ from Livy’s friends‚ John and Isabella Beecher Hooker‚ and later purchased land on Farmington Avenue. In 1873‚ they engaged New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their house.  Mark Twain and his family enjoyed what the author would later call the happiest and most productive years of his life in their Hartford home. Financial problems forced Sam and Livy to move the family to Europe in 1891. Though he would complain about other places the family lived compared to the Hartford house (”How ugly‚ tasteless‚ repulsive are all the domestic interiors I have ever seen in Europe compared with the perfect taste of this ground floor”)‚ the family would never live in Hartford again.

Global Huck

Global Huck: A Crowdsourcing-based Approach to Data Collection. In this project, scholars aim to collect the various translations of the same text, in this case Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in, if possible, all the languages of the world, in order to measure and understand the transformations that affect its migration across borders and languages.

Mark Twain’s Memory-Builder

A board game invented by Twain and patented in 1885 is supposed to help players remember the dates of important historical events. The TimeOnline project at University of Oregon has created a web-based version of the game for up to four players. The game is quite adaptable. Players can be limited to a single century or region, or they can play an open-ended version.

Lesson Plans Related to Mark Twain and His Literature

Lesson Plans from the Mark Twain House and Museum in Hartford , CT

For Middle and High school Students.  For the past several years, The Mark Twain House & Museum has been the host of National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Teacher Workshops at which educators from across the nation have written lesson plans to assist their colleagues in teaching the life and works of Mark Twain.  The site contains a selection of these lesson plans that have been updated to specifically reference their connections to the new Common Core Standards as well as edited to conform to the “Understanding by Design” (UBD) format for curricular units commonly used by educators today.

Lesson Plans from the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, MO

The Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum has developed lesson plans to go along with some of Mark Twain’s books and short stories. The plans were developed during teacher workshops held at the Hannibal museum beginning in the summer of 2006. The lesson plans are organized by books/stories and by the concept that is emphasized in the lesson.  Lesson plan groups included are The Adventures of Tom SawyerAdventures of Huckleberry FinnThe Prince and the PauperA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s CourtFollowing the Equator.

The Mark Twain Statue in the Gannett-Tripp Library on the Elmira College campus


Hal Holbrook in “Mark Twain Tonight!”

In this YouTube clip, Hal Holbrook performs from his famous one-man show.  In this section, Holbrook as Twain expounds upon Man, “the reasoning animal.”  Inarguably, the best impersonation of Twain.

Mark Twain’s Journey to Jerusalem: Dreamland

“Mark Twain’s Journey to Jerusalem: Dreamland”, narrated by Martin Sheen, retraces Twain’s steps as he traveled the Holy Land, highlighting his letters that were turned into his best-selling book “The Innocents Abroad”.

“The Adventures of Mark Twain”

The Adventures of Mark Twain is a 1985 American stop motion claymation fantasy film directed by Will Vinton and starring James Whitmore. It received a limited theatrical release in May 1985. The film features a series of vignettes extracted from several of Mark Twain’s works, built around a plot that features Twain’s attempts to keep his “appointment” with Halley’s Comet, with particular attention to Twain’s later works. Nationally known TV critic Mark Dawidziak presented a paper on Will Vinton’s animated groundbreaking work at Elmira 2013: The Seventh International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies.

“The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg”

A 1980 film about a stranger who descends on the small town of Hadleyburg to teach its deceitful residents a lesson. Inspired by writer Mark Twain’s short story. Directed by Ralp Rosenblum; Teleplay by Mark Harris. Starring Robert Preston, Tom Aldredge, Fred Gwynne, and Henry Fonda.

“The Mysterious Stranger”

First aired on PBS in 1982. Directed by Peter H. Hunt; teleplay by Julian Mitchell. Starring Chris Makepeace, Bernhard Wicki, and Herbert Fux.

“The War Prayer”

Animated YouTube Clip of Twain’s “War Prayer” (1905). Directed by Markos Kounalakis. Featured at Animation Film Screening at OSA Archivum in Budapest, Hungary to commemorate UN Human Rights Day, December 9, 2010.

“The War Prayer”

In this YouTube Clip, Twain’s “War Prayer” (1905) takes place in present day, during Sunday services at a church in Any Town, USA. This short film is directed by Michael Goorjian and stars Jeremy Sisto.

The Edge Ensemble Presents “The Diaries of Adam and Eve”

The Edge Ensemble presents “The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” based on Mark Twain’s novel. This is the Edge Ensemble’s first video production as we strive to keep the creative arts alive during a time when live performances are not possible. Filmed at Granite Lake in Munsonville, New Hampshire, “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” is a romantic comedy about the first marriage and the first differences between men and women as far back as Eden. A romantic comedy with an unexpected emotional punch, “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” was directed by Kim Dupuis from a script adapted from Twain by Catherine Behrens.

Huckleberry Finn and the N-Word”

A Youtube clip featuring a 60 Minutes story concerning a Southern publisher’s sanitized edition of “Huckleberry Finn” that replaces the N-word with “slave” over 200 times. This becomes the focal point for a debate on the use of the controversial word in American society. Byron Pitts reports. Published on June 12, 2011.

“Born to Trouble: Adventures of Huck Finn

A YouTube Clip. PBS’s Culture Shock produced this 90-minute documentary on the heated debate surrounding Twain’s famous book. The program features a dramatic retelling of the novel’s plot, compelling interviews, and historical artifacts to ask the questions: “Why does this universally admired book offend so many? How do we distinguish between a critique of a social problem and the perpetuation of the problem? Does the required reading of prior generations have relevance for today’s students?” Clip is not the best quality.

Sharing Mark Twain with Elementary Age Readers

Compiled by Michelle Halperin, Fourth Grade Teacher in the Elmira City School District

  • Anderson, William, River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain. Harper Collins, 2003.
  • Brown, Don. American Boy. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.
  • Burleigh, Robert and Barry Blitt, The Adventures of Mark Twain by huckleberry Finn. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011
  • Camfield, Gregg, ed. Stories for Young People: Mark Twain. Sterling Publishing Company, 2005.
  • Harness, Cheryl, Mark Twain and the Queen of the Mississippi. Simon and Shuster Books for Young Readers, 1998.
  • Kerley Barbara, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Suzy). Illustrated by Edwin Fotherington. Scholastic, 2010.
  • Maltbie, P.I., Bambino and Mr. Twain. Charlesbridge, 2012.
  • Mason, Miriam, Mark Twain Young Writer. Illustrated by Henry S. Gillett. Alladin Paperbacks – Simon & Schuster, 1991.
  • Prince, April Jones. Who Was Mark Twain? Grosset & Dunlap, 2004.
  • Sabin, Louis, Young Mark Twain. Troll Associates, 2004.
  • Sellas, George, Lance Tooks, Rick Geary, and Kevin Atkinson. Graphic Classics: Tom Sawyer Abroad, The Mysterious Stranger & More Tales by Mark Twain. Eureka Productions, 2007.

Books Dedicated to Teaching Mark Twain in the Classroom

  • Aller Susan, Mark Twain: A & E Biography. Lerner Publications, 2001.
  • Evans, John D., A Tom Sawyer Companion: An Autobiographical Guided Tour with Mark Twain. University Press of America, 1993.
  • Gilding, Thomas, Mark Twain & Me, Mikey T. and other Stories. Mark Twain Entertainment, 1996.
  • de Koster, Katie (ed.) Readings on Mark Twain. Greenhaven Press, 1998.
  • de Koster, Katie (ed.) Readings on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Greenhaven Press, 1999.
  • de Koster, Katie (ed.) Readings on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Greenhaven Press, 1999.
  • Leonard, James S., ed. Making Mark Twain Work in the Classroom. Duke University Press, 1999.
  • Rasmussen, R. Kent, Mark Twain for Kids: His Life and Times. Chicago Review Press, 2004.