The purpose of this project is to celebrate Samuel L. Clemens' life in Redding, Connecticut by documenting and showcasing his time here in multiple formats both online and offline. Your donations & site sponsorships will help me dedicate more time to these projects and allow me to get them online sooner.

Tuesday, January 19

Twain-Themed Connecticut Tourism Project

Our Twain-Themed Connecticut Tourism Project is in need of assistance. We need your help to spread the word and help us make this project a reality. This is what we are attempting to do:

We are in the process of uncovering Connecticut towns/cities connected with Mark Twain to celebrate his life and promote future tourism in Connecticut.

April 21, 2010 marks the Centennial of Mark Twain's passing and provides the residents of Connecticut with a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate Twain's life in Connecticut and encourage a re-awakening of interest in Twain related research and tourism here in Connecticut.

About the Mark Twain Centennial Project
Our project involves online and offline exhibits designed to increase awareness of Mark Twain’s time in Connecticut by showcasing the people and places connected to him across the State. This project is timed to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of his passing in 2010.

Offline Component of Our Project
The offline component of our project brings informative exhibits to every Connecticut library, museum and/or public building that would like to be a part of this celebration. These Exhibits will be free to the public and free to the libraries, museums and public places that display them. The exhibits will include information about Twain's life, his work and his friends in Connecticut. Exhibiting locations will be provided with a framed portrait of Twain along with photos and information brochures that showcase his life in Redding and Hartford. A fold out map of Connecticut marking all the Twain Connections that have been made in towns and cities across the State will also be provided in an effort to increase visits to participating libraries, museums and public buildings.

The specific problem our offline Twain Connections exhibits address is the dismal funding environment our local libraries, museums, and historical societies are facing in the current economic downturn. Connecticut has allotted $1 for state tourism marketing in 2010. Our offline exhibits provide a means for Connecticut's libraries, museums, and historical societies to not only increase foot traffic to their buildings, via this historic Twain Centennial, but to also showcase their own offerings and talents to an audience they may otherwise have missed. This is important as the ultimate goal of this project is to make Connecticut a destination for Mark Twain tourism and research in the future. We feel that merging information about Twain with information about the "Friends of Twain" in the many towns and cities that have a Twain Connection is a great way to promote town pride and Connecticut tourism in the future.

Bridgeport's P.T. Barnum Museum would be a perfect example of a museum that would benefit from this "friends of Twain" marketing concept, another is Keeler Tavern in Ridgefield. In the present day people visit Keeler Tavern to learn about a colonial tavern. We hope in the future they'll visit to learn more about Architect Cass Gilbert and his friendship with Mark Twain. By simply collaborating with us to provide the public with a location specific exhibit that sheds light not only on Twain but their local individual as well, these historic and cultural museums/centers can expand their audience and attract future visitors.

To date we have made connections in 55 towns here in Connecticut.

Online Component of Our Project
The online component of our project is to digitize the Mark Twain Library's extensive collection of Samuel L. Clemens' photographs, documents, & personal belongings tied to his time in Redding, Connecticut. The digitization project will transform the Mark Twain Library's static archives into dynamic digital resources that will be added to a new web site which will provide 24/7 online access to documents, photos & information connected with the beloved American author's final years in Connecticut.

"Mark Twain's tenure in Redding, Connecticut, is of tremendous importance to scholarship… You know something is important if people fight over it, and scholars argue over this phase of Twain's creative development constantly…Whatever light can be shed on this final phase of Twain's life is vital to the study of Mark Twain. "

- Steve Courtney
Author, Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain's Closest Friend

The online efforts of this project are essential to the dissemination of our research. Providing 24/7 online access to our primary source artifacts, books, documents and photographs that relate to Twain's final years provides the means for a more personal understanding of his time in Redding, Connecticut to evolve over time. This new online historical resource will allow Twain scholars and enthusiasts to freely share and exchange information on Twain's time in Redding, Connecticut.

Through web site forums and e-mail lists we will encourage interaction amongst our site's visitors to discuss and debate the topics related to his time here. Features, such as maps, web slide shows and geocaching databases will be provided to encourage tourism and gain the interest of young adults.

Is it of Interest?
Presently there is a lack of accessible information on Samuel L. Clemens' years in Redding. Clemens' life and works in Hartford, Connecticut are well documented. The Mark Twain House serves as an outstanding resource to those who seek information and wish to experience how he lived in this period of his life. Conversely, Clemens' years in Redding, Connecticut have not been properly documented, and as a result there are many questions, conflicting theories and opinions with regard to what really happened in Redding that need to be answered. This project's immediate objective is to digitize anything and everything relating to Clemens' time in Redding, making it readily available to those that seek it. We also seek to unravel some mysteries relating to Samuel L. Clemens' final years. It was a very short time period but a very eventful one that from all indications is a topic that many find enthralling. In the course of our research to determine the significance of this project's impact, we've yet to received a response that wasn't positive or enthusiastic.

"Yes, it's of interest. I've had occasion to look into Twain's time at Stormfield and found it frustrating that so little information was available. The work you describe will be of real use."

- Cal Pritner
Author of Mark Twain and Me Unlearning Racism

"As a member of the Twain Forum and as a lifelong Connecticut resident, I can tell you that your work to digitize the collections relating to Clemens' time in Redding are of tremendous interest to me. I encourage you to proceed with this venture."

- Alain D. Munkittrick

Impact of this Project
The long term goal of this project is to make Connecticut a destination for Mark Twain tourism and research. With 55 Connecticut towns and cities now connected to Mark Twain, and many of these connections relating to existing museums and/or public buildings there is very little effort required to bring this plan to fruition.

By connecting 55 Connecticut towns and cities to Mark Twain:

 We increase the chances of a significant Mark Twain Conference/Convention being held here in Connecticut. Hartford would be the host city with our Twain Connections providing plenty of sight seeing opportunities for conference attendees.

 We increase the foot traffic to Connecticut museums, libraries, and public buildings.

 We provide a tourism program that can be expanded upon in the future. i.e. If the Twain Tourism angle works we could expand the idea to showcase 'Connecticut's Greatest Residents'.

 We raise Redding, Twain's final home, to the level and status of the other Mark Twain Sites- Hartford, Hannibal, Buffalo, Berkeley, Elmira.

The Plans We Have to Disseminate Information to the Public About Our Project
From a marketing standpoint, the timing of this project is favorable as 2010 marks a number of 100 year Mark Twain related anniversaries and celebrations. Connecticut has already recognized our efforts and proclaimed April 21, 2010 as Mark Twain Day, and a nationwide Mark Twain Day effort is currently being led by the State of Missouri. We have been disseminating information to the public about our project for well over two years. Through our sites, blogs and social networks we have a very strong internet presence in place, offline our efforts have been featured in newspapers, magazines, and television interviews.

The offline and online projects will be tied together via an aggressive cross marketing campaign. Our new web site will be explained and promoted in all of our 2010 exhibit materials and maps, we will also explain our online project during slideshow presentations that will be made at all of our host locations. Conversely, our offline exhibits will be showcased on the web site.

Planning and Progress

1. Our request to make April 21, 2010 Mark Twain Day in Connecticut has been approved by Governor Rell. This proclamation provides the perfect kick-off to our 2010 exhibits across the State.

2. We are making connections daily using a number of online and offline resources. We are also actively marketing our idea across the State via newspaper articles and television interviews. We have submitted requests for assistance from local historical societies and historians. State librarians have also been made aware of our project and have been asked to participate. To date we've been amazed by the number of people and towns connected (55) to his life and we cannot wait to make others aware of these connections, people and their own individual accomplishments. Feedback on the project has been very positive.

3. Exhibit materials:

 The artwork has been created but needs to be printed and framed.
 Destination Map, Photos, information brochures still need to be compiled and printed.
 We are in discussions with to create a custom GPS driven iPhone app of these locations
 We are in discussions with ConneCTions History Tours of Darien to help promote the locations that have strong connections to Mark Twain and can provide enhanced experiences to visitors.

4. Funding. Sponsorships and donations are essential to the success of the project. We are currently sending out funding inquires and proposals. All donations are tax-deductible and our sponsors will be prominently featured in all of our offline and online exhibits.

5. Project Prototype. We're using Illinois' Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition as prototype, especially in the brochure aspect of the project.

6. Project information is shared with the public daily via updates posted at our project blog: We are also sharing updates via e-mail through the Mark Twain Forum, Connecticut History Forum and Connecticut Librarian Forum. We are also promoting it via Twitter:

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Mark Twain Library Director, Heather Morgan

Portrait Artist, Susan Durkee

Redding historian, Brent M. Colley

We are in deep need of funding for our 2010 Mark Twain Centennial Project. As Twain once said:

"Necessity is the Mother of Taking Chances."

So, I'm giving Mark Twain T-Shirts a try. We get $4.00 for each Mark Twain T-Shirt sold.

My personal favorites are the ones in Braille, which are in reference to the relationship between Mark Twain and Helen Keller.

Thank you to Gene at for the plug! Visit his Twitter account for daily quotes and Twain wisdom:

Thursday, January 14

Connecticut Twain Connection #55

Fort Trumbull, New London, Connecticut

Short Story "A Curious Experience" begins: This is the story which the Major told me, as nearly as I can recall it:--

In the winter of 1862-3, I was commandant of Fort Trumbull, at New London, Conn. Maybe our life there was not so brisk as life at "the front"; still it was brisk enough, in its way -- one`s brains did n`t cake together there for lack of something to keep them stirring. For one thing, all the Northern atmosphere at that time was thick with mysterious rumors -- rumors to the effect that rebel spies were flitting everywhere, and getting ready to blow up our Northern forts, burn our hotels, send infected clothing into our towns, and all that sort of thing. You remember it. All this had a tendency to keep us awake, and knock the traditional dulness out of garrison life. Besides, ours was a recruiting station -- which is the same as saying we had n`t any time to waste in dozing, or dreaming, or fooling around. Why, with all our watchfulness, fifty per cent. of a day`s recruits would leak out of our hands and give us the slip the same night. The bounties were so prodigious that a recruit could pay a sentinel three or four hundred dollars to let him escape, and still have enough of his bounty-money left to constitute a fortune for a poor man. Yes, as I said before, our life was not drowsy.

View all 55 Connecticut Twain Connections here:

Friday, January 8

Blog Tag...Twain is it!

Talk of Our Town: Ridgefield CT has a neat little game called "Blog Tag" in the works... it's a fantastic interactive idea and seeing it's pushing 2pm Friday and I can't concentrate anyway I'll accept the challenge.

The rules are simple. First, on your own blog, tell 10 things about yourself, in the spirit of sharing and, well, self-promotion! Then you tag 5 blogs or websites that inspire your blog!

Here it goes:

1. I'm 39 years old, grew up in Redding, Connecticut, married (Christine), two kids (Liam and Emma), one dog (Bailey) and we all live up in Sharon, Connecticut now.

2. In real-life, I'm a web developer who specializes in online promotion and search engine rank improvement.

3. In my spare time, I work with a number of non-profit groups and lead walking tours, slide shows and speaking engagements that showcase a wide range of historic interests.

4. Since January of 2008, I have been working to uncover Connecticut's Mark Twain 'Connections' in towns and cities across the State to encourage a re-awakening of interest in Twain related research and tourism here in Connecticut. 54 towns and cities to-date.

5. My first site was launched in 1998. I started the site to share what I was finding out about Redding, Connecticut and make it easier for others to learn about Redding's amazing past.

6. It was because of that I learned HTML and Graphic Design and three years later launched my own web services company.

7. In 2006, was averaging 15,000 page views a year. I wanted to improve those numbers so I switched web hosting companies and began a search optimization campaign using site traffic statistics and online search trends for guidance. In 2009, had over 480,000 page views, averaging over 40,000 page views a month. Now I help others do the same.

8. I love the Historical Fiction Novel My Brother Sam is Dead. In my opinion is it the best historical fiction novel focused on our area...ever. I use it to teach kids from all over the Country about the early stages of the Revolutionary War.

9. I am addicted to Twitter and it bothers me.

10. Never tell me I can't do something, I will.

The 5 Blogs that I visit often and inspire me are:

The Mark Twain LibraryRedding's public library that Mark Twain himself founded and funded. Their history archives are amazing and their online database resources are pretty sweet too! I've made 85% of my Mark Twain Connections via this amazing database of letters. If you haven't been to the Mark Twain House in Hartford in a while...Go! Many great upgrades and exhibits. The home of the Mark Twain Forum, a great Listserv service for Twainiacs. Twain quotes, newspaper collections and related resources. This is the sources of all sources for Twain.

Tag, you’re it!

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