Collections & Research

Collections

From Sam's Shirts to the Stormfield Plans

The Mark Twain House & Museum’s collection contains approximately 16,000 artifacts. Obviously, our most important object is the historic home of author Samuel L. Clemens (“Mark Twain”), which has been meticulously restored and designated a National Historic Landmark.

In addition to the restored house, The Mark Twain House & Museum’s collection can be broken up into three major categories: Museum Collection Objects, Archival Collection, and Special Collections.

The Mark Twain House & Museum is a member of the Connecticut League of History Organizations. As such, select items from our collections can be viewed online at https://ctcollections.org/. We are diligently working to add collection items to this web portal for public viewing.

Museum Collection Objects

This subset of the collection includes pieces that originally belonged to the Clemens family or that belonged to the Langdons, the family of Sam’s wife, Olivia Clemens. It also encompasses other period pieces of decorative and fine arts and domestic artifacts; popular culture artifacts that display interpretations of Mark Twain’s image, work and characters; architectural pieces created for the restoration of the house; and material relating to the work and style of the original architects and decorators of the Twain House. Examples of notable pieces in our collection include:

The Clemenses’ famous angel bed.


Samuel Clemens’ last pair of spectacles.


A watercolor painting, named Emmeline.

A birthday present from Sam to Olivia in 1878.


Family textiles

Including two of Sam’s shirts, one of Livy’s nightgowns and a quilt sewn by Twain’s mother-in-law, Olivia Langdon.


The architectural plans for “Stormfield.”

Twain’s last home in Redding, Connecticut.


Examples of glass and furniture made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, textiles by Candace Wheeler, and brass, wood carvings and paintings by Lockwood deForest.

All members of Louis C.Tiffany & Co., Associated Artists, who did the interior design of the house.


The Paige Compositor typesetting machine

This drove the family to the brink of bankruptcy, forcing them to leave their Hartford home.

Archival Collection

The Archival Collection includes documents and photographic images that were made, received or accumulated by Mark Twain and his family, friends and associates, or by The Mark Twain House as an institution. Examples of notable pieces in our collection include:

A love letter written by Sam to Livy on her birthday in 1888.


A note written by Jean Clemens, age 8.

To grandmother, thanking her for the present of a $5 gold piece.


An autochrome of Clemens in his Oxford robes by Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1908.


Photographs of the Clemens daughters performing theatricals.

Including “A Love Chase,” “Prince and the Pauper” and “Hero and Leander” (also starring Twain.)

Special Collections

This subset of the museum’s collection includes library materials that are of great significance or value, such as works by Mark Twain, most notably editions of his writings published during his lifetime; works by his family, friends and associates; and biographical and critical works on Mark Twain and/or his writing. Examples of notable pieces in our collection include:

Salesmen’s prospectus for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


First American editions of almost all Twain’s major writings and many of his secondary works.


A 12-volume set of Mark Twain’s works in Russian.


More than 200 books owned by members of the Clemens family that feature witty, acerbic, sarcastic, and interesting comments made by Samuel Clemens in the margins. The collection includes books by Charles Darwin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Shakespeare.

Donating Artifacts

Our collecting mission focuses on objects, documents, images, and ephemera owned by or related to Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain, his family, friends, and associates, and his various homes, with special focus on the Hartford home. As we are scrupulous about displaying only authentic period items to help interpret the lives of the Clemens family and their servants, the target date for all of these items is 1881-1891.

Donations added to the museum collection through the generosity of individuals help us fulfill our mission as stewards of Mark Twain’s legacy. Our collecting mission focuses on objects and images related to Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, his family, and his contemporaries.

A conversation with our curatorial department can often determine whether your object is appropriate for our collections. For all donation inquiries, please contact Jodi C. DeBruyne, Beatrice Fox Auerbach Director of Collections, at (860) 280-3122, or e-mail jodi.debruyne@marktwainhouse.org.

All acquisitions to the Museum’s permanent collections must be approved by the Collections Committee and then by the Board of Trustees.

Donations to the museum are tax deductible; however, you will need to have the value determined by an independent appraiser. For a list of qualified appraisers, visit the Appraisers Association of America at www.appraisersassoc.org.

Permission to Reproduce

Possession of a reproduction does not imply permission to publish or create multiple copies. Permission to publish images owned by The Mark Twain House must be applied for in writing and is subject to standard fees. Please see our Permission to Reproduce page for more information. 

To request permission to use a photograph or image from our archives contact Mallory Howard, Assistant Curator, at (860) 280-3120, or e-mail mallory.howard@marktwainhouse.org.