"The face of the water, in time, became a wonderful book--a book that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell every day." - Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi


About this Project

Mark Twain made the Mississippi Valley in the nineteenth century an integral part of American historical memory and mythology in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and Life on the Mississippi (1883). This web site provides a fully searchable and indexed digital library of primary source materials. In addition to Twain's celebrated Mississippi works themselves, collected text materials include his known correspondence from the period that he trained and served as a river pilot (from the collections of the Mark Twain's Papers Project at the University of California, Berkeley), as well as steamboat passengers' travel narratives and accounts and descriptions of individual cities, plantations, and other notable sites along the Mississippi, drawn from the collections of Northern Illinois University Libraries, The Newberry Library, the St. Louis Mercantile Library, and Tulane University Libraries. These materials feature contemporary discussions of major issues that Twain raised in his Mississippi River works, including race and slavery; western settlement and conflicts with Native Americans; the emergence of a new American economic order replacing Twain's world of villages and steamboats with railroads and factories; the development of genteel culture and westerners' reactions to and interpretations of it; and America's sectional crisis, Civil War, and Reconstruction.
The project website also features several types of multimedia resources. These include nineteenth-century image materials, as well as present-day sound recordings of songs pertaining to the river, made from period sheet music.
In addition to primary source materials, the project has gathered original interpretive essays and interviews with leading scholars in the field, providing users with an opportunity to compare Twain's and other nineteenth century accounts with concise summaries of the scholarly literature.

Copyright and Terms of Use

Certain portions of the materials on this site are protected under copyright laws. These materials have been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, but may not be used for any commercial purpose. Permission to make a single copy of any material on this website through print, photocopying, or downloading to a computer terminal is granted without the need to seek prior consent, on the express condition that you properly cite the source in all copies.

To cite sources you should include all applicable and available information available regarding:

  1. Name of author, editor, compiler, arranger, translator, creator
  2. Title of song, section, poem, short work, letter within a larger book or journal
  3. Title of larger book or journal
  4. Name of editor, compiler, or translator, arranger
  5. Publication information for the print version (publisher location, publisher and date)
  6. Mark Twain's Mississippi Project
  7. Name of owning institution
  8. Date you accessed the source
  9. Direct link to the webpage or digitized item

For other uses of materials from the site (for example, commercial products, publication, broadcast, mirroring, reuse on a website, or anything else that does not fall under concepts relating to "fair use") you are required to seek permission from the appropriate source in advance. Contact information is given below. When requesting permission, please be prepared to refer specifically to the information you intend to use and provide details regarding your planned use.

Those inquiring about these uses should contact Drew VandeCreek.

Project Team

Drew VandeCreek, Project Director

Tara Dirst, Technical Coordinator (2005-2007)

Anitha Paruchuri, Web Developer (2005-2011)

Stacey Erdman, Digital Collections Curator

Nathan Books, Web Developer

Matthew Short, Metadata Librarian

Charles Larry, Graphic Designer

Maria Dimanshtein, Graphic Designer (2013)

Chris Freiler, Curriculum Developer

Scholarly Contributors

Gregg Camfield, University of California at Merced

Shelly Fisher Fishkin, Stanford University

Bob Hirst, University of California, Berkeley

Peter J. Kastor, Washington University

O. Vernon Burton, Clemson University

Troy Smith, Tennessee Tech University

Simon Appleford, Creighton University

Marcus Leshock, WGN TV

Project Partners

Primary source materials featured on this site are derived from the collections of Northern Illinois University's Library, The Newberry Library, The St. Louis Mercantile Liibrary at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Tulane University Libraries.

The Mark Twain's Mississippi Project was generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.