Since 2004 I have been collaborating with the poet and writer Lytle Shaw In our ongoing project as Co-editors of the Chadwick Family Papers. As such we prepare informational events and educational displays that introduce the public to the always remarkable, and sometimes shocking, history of the Chadwick Family (a prominent and ancient family of sea captains, dandies, amateur historians and armor collectors on both sides of the Atlantic. Though Shaw and I have considerable leeway with the family papers, artifacts, and works of art, the Chadwicks remain anxious about the family’s place in history, a condition that has only been aggravated by their recent financial troubles. For this reason we’re obliged to make room in our work for the contributions of the family’s own amateur historians and to respond to the Chadwicks’ rather exacting editorial suggestions. Our editorship is in this sense a collaboration not merely between Shaw and myself, but between us and the Chadwicks. The editorship has taken several forms over the last few years from small chapbooks and tabletop displays, to room sized installations. Occasionally, (some would say unfortunately) presentations are given by actual members of the Chadwick family which have taken the form of endless bus and walking tours, and tiresome powerpoint lectures.
And yet the richness of the family’s archive far outweighs the administrative dilemmas and complex matters of etiquette sometimes involved in bringing it before the public.