Outreach Programs

Looking for a fun and informative event for your library, book club, or historical society?

The Mark Twain House & Museum can bring you distinctive, entertaining, and interactive virtual presentations on Mark Twain’s life, work, interests, and era. If you are looking for a program on literature, history, culture and/or social justice, we can provide a presentation that is sure to delight and educate. Depending on resources and topic, we can also develop new programs specifically for your group.

All of our outreach programs can be delivered in person or virtually. Book your program today by calling 860-280-3130 or emailing Grace Belanger.

NEW: We offer four different programs on Christmas in the Clemens family. Click here to learn more and schedule a little Gilded Age Christmas this season.

Email Grace Belanger

Seventeen Summers in a Garden

Although his most famous works were set along the Mississippi River of his childhood, Mark Twain composed those novels while living in Nook Farm, a neighborhood of Hartford full of celebrated literary figures. This program explores what it was like in this vibrant community of authors and activists, whose residents included not only Twain, but also novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, travel writer and journalist Charles Dudley Warner, Civil War hero and senator Joseph Hawley, and female suffrage campaigner Isabella Beecher Hooker. It also considers the ways Twain’s decades in Connecticut shaped his writing, family, and social life.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

How To Reform A Conscience

Mark Twain described Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as “a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat.” This hour-long program considers how Twain came to recognize the way his own conscience was “deformed” with regards to racism and white supremacy, and explores the ways he successfully – and not-so-successfully – worked to reform it. Note: While this program is an excellent companion to reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, participants do not need to have read the book to fully engage with and learn from this program.

75 minutes ⋅ $150

The Character of the Place

When Sam Clemens first visited Hartford in 1868, he deemed it “the best built and the handsomest town I have ever seen.” But Hartford was more than just a pretty place–it was the richest city in the United States at the time. “Hartford dollars have a place in half the great moneyed enterprises of the Union,” Clemens noted, and his neighbor Harriet Beecher Stowe called it “fat, rich, and cosy.” This program explores the social, cultural, and economic dynamics of the Gilded Age through the city where Clemens helped coin the term itself, as well as the ways the city shaped his career and personal life.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

Mark Twain, Cosmic Traveler

From a young age, Mark Twain was a travelling man. Whether it was travelling in a steamboat up the Mississippi, crossing the American desert in a stagecoach, or one of his countless trips across the Atlantic; it’s hard to imagine a place he did not go. This program will discuss many (but not all) of the trips he took over his life as well as a few that he did not. We will explore where he went, why he went, and how he got there. We will also delve into Twain’s vivid imagination and discuss some of the Universe’s most sought after travel destinations. His birth under Halley’s Comet triggered a fascination with outer space as well as the proposed methods of travel therein.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

Mark Twain and the American Presidents

Mark Twain’s frank observations about American culture in the Gilded Age often ring true today. Corruption, national identity, the power of big business, and America’s global role were just as contested then as they are now. His funny, insightful observations about the presidents of his day apply readily to the modern presidency.

60 minutes ⋅ $200

Mark Twain in the Margins

Mark Twain had a lifelong habit of writing in the margins of the books he read – and it did not always matter whether the book actually belonged to him. He commented acerbically on the authors and their work – “by an ass” was a favorite phrase – and made other, longer comments that tell us about the man and his thoughts. His marginalia are his “conversations” with the books he was reading, and there are many examples of this in the library collection of The Mark Twain House & Museum.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

A Clemens Family Christmas At Home

“. . . how could any one individual buy, wrap up, and expedite so many presents for one single day in the year as my mother did? . . . The work began weeks before the holy day. Even so, there seemed always to be a rush at the end.”

For Sam and Livy Clemens, the best Christmases were the ones they celebrated at home in Hartford with their three daughters. Learn more about their Christmas traditions, including selecting (or making) the perfect gift and hanging the children’s stockings under the supervision of Apollinaris the cat.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

Christmas Charity In The Gilded Age

“Great baskets with the feet of turkeys protruding below blankets of flowers and fruit.”

As Clara Clemens recalled years later, one of the most important Christmas traditions for the Clemens family was assembling and delivering baskets of food and gifts to poor families in Hartford. This program explores the family’s charitable efforts in historic context: increasing prosperity for some, increasing poverty for many more, and a society torn over what to do about it.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

Clemens Christmases Abroad & Apart

“Livy my darling, I sent you a cable telegram from here last night to say ‘Merry Christmas!'”

While the family loved to celebrate Christmas together in their Hartford home, that wasn’t always possible. In this program, you’ll learn how they celebrated as a family while traveling abroad and how they celebrated even when family members were separated by oceans and continents.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

Decking the Halls & Trimming the Trees

“Xmas was invented to knock out the health & strength accumulated in the previous 11 months & shorten people’s lives 10 per cent a year – it does its work & accomplishes its mission with fiendish certainty.”

While Sam Clemens may have joked about finding Christmas preparations a bit tiring, his daughter Clara fondly remembered the “royal preparations for Christmastide” each year in their Hartford home. This program explores how every member of the household helped to get the home ready for Christmas, as well as the meals they ate, the stories they read, and the games they played.

60 minutes ⋅ $150

We will also develop new programs to match your community's interests.

Are you interested in Twain, or nineteenth-century American history or literature more broadly, but want to learn about something not on the list? Custom programs are potentially available. Depending on the amount of research needed, it may be possible to develop a new program for you. The fee is based on the amount of time needed for preparation.

Book your program today!

To reserve a Mark Twain House & Museum educational program, call Grace Belanger at 860- 280-3130 or email grace.belanger@marktwainhouse.org. We will schedule these programs on a mutually agreeable date. They are generally available year-round during the day or early evening (Eastern Time).