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Abstract

As the part-time Archivist and Curator of the Massachusetts General Hospital, I am occasionally free to moonlight as a consultant for other organizations in need of advice about what to do with their historical records. For several years I have served as Consulting Archivist for the Wakefield Charitable Trust, an educational foundation that administers the buildings, grounds, and fortune bequeathed by Mary M. B. Wakefield, the heiress of a venerable Brahmin family. Mrs. Wakefield lived on a twenty-one-acre estate (now known as the Wakefield Estate and Arboretum) in a semi-rural part of Milton, a Boston suburb. In younger years she was a talented landscape architect and an advocate for environmental causes. She died at an advanced age in 2004 after years of illness accompanied by mental confusion. Her will stipulated that her property (buildings and grounds, as well as investment income) should be used for some worthwhile educational purpose. The terms were not clearly defined, but it was known that she wanted the estate’s gardens and arboretum maintained for public enjoyment.

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