Bumpkin Island Historical Society

As part of the 2010 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment, produced by the Berwick Research Institute in Boston Harbor, I claimed the picnic table at the top of the spit as the site for the archives and primary activities of the Bumpkin Island History Society (BIHS). I spent the first days on the island creating and organizing the archive’s materials, including artifacts, pamphlets of Bumpkin Island research, facsimiles of historical documents and photographs, and archival material from the 2008 and 2009 encampments, thanks to artist contributions. BIHS was intended to provide a research resource for visitors of a historical bent and other encampment artists with a need for historical information, as well as reaching out to a wider range of Bumpkin by presenting historical material in a dynamic, creative way and by encouraging everyone on the island to take part in shaping the archive by collecting or contributing information.
This took the form of:
• 2×3” cards with evocative phrases or facts that dangled from paths all over the island, allowing wanderers to encounter history unexpectedly and process it privately
• a temporary 3-D visual graph of the population of the island, using piles of periwinkle shells instead of numbers
• small sculpture naming historical residents of Bumpkin whose history has not been recorded
In addition to receiving information, visitors contributed their own knowledge of Bumpkin through writing and sound recording. Visitors to BIHS also asked questions, joined the society, argued, got bored, got interested, wrote, told stories, speculated, and spent leisurely periods reading and looking at the archive’s materials.