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On Tuesday, February 12, Ms. Slevin’s English 11 Honors class took a field trip to the Bancroft Library on the University of California campus to visit the Mark Twain Papers. The Papers is a collection of thousands of Twain’s letters, manuscripts, and other writings which have been housed at the Bancroft since 1949, and were bequeathed to the university by Twain’s daughter Clara upon her death in 1962. It is the largest collection of any 19th century American writer’s personal papers.
English 11 Honors students are currently reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and visited the archives to enhance their study of the novel. Dr. Robert Hirst, General Editor of the Papers, shared many different original manuscripts with the students, including Twain’s working notes for Huckleberry Finn, several personal letters discussing his work, and early corrected proofs of the novel. These documents gave students insight into both Twain as a person and his writing process. “Getting to see the Mark Twain Papers and hearing (Dr. Hirst) talk about Twain was fun and helped me understand more of the man behind the words,” says Jenny Ly ’14. Cat AhSam ’14 adds, “I liked seeing all of Twain’s handwritten notes on Huck Finn.”
In addition to the Mark Twain Papers, the students were given a tour of the Bancroft Library by Peter Hanff, the library’s Deputy Director. This tour included a current exhibit of Ansel Adams photography, the library reading room, and an early working printing press, which was very impressive to the class.