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Burstin’ with joy as Milo Burston collection is completed

Courtesy Photos Above is Milo Burston hard at work taking a photo. His collection was completed recently after 14 years of work organizing and identifying photos by members of the Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society, with the help of the community. The collection belongs to the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan.

Fourteen years ago the Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society began a commitment to archive the negatives and photos of professional photographer Milo Burston. Burston was a member of the society and had been very instrumental in getting most of the glass plates of photographer Van Nocker to the society to organize and preserve.

Once the glass plates were archived they were donated to the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan. Members of the society began to encourage Burston to consider donating his collection to the museum with the promise that society members would organize and archive them. Due to the decline in his vision, Burston decided to do just that.

Grant monies from the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, combined with money from the society allowed them to obtain supplies to begin the process in 2005. In the start up years, Burston assisted in the process, viewing negatives through a greatly magnified lens. The museum purchased a special program and Janet Romas and Diane Laseck worked for three years on inputting each item archived into the the database on the computer, then computer problems arose and all was lost including the back up disc. For a number of years members simply recorded and archived the collection until 2015 when Edie Kelley and Rene Kendziorski picked up the task of imputing the photos and negatives into a database.

Burston’s collection contained a few negatives which he may have acquired from his father or a predecessor as some of the negatives were dated as early as 1924, which was long before Burston could hold a camera. There were photos of old photos as well as negatives of historic buildings of Alpena and surrounding counties. Also noted were many family, graduation, passport and business portraits. There were photographs of churches, weddings and others too numerous to mention. After all, Burston was in business for nearly 50 years in this Northeastern Michigan region.

Over the years many members of the society participated in the project, including Dorothy Blizzard, Evelyn Robarge, Laseck and RoseMarie Guthrie, who all assumed leadership roles at various times continuing the effort. Many members have enjoyed working on this project including Mary Ackerman, Sandy Cordes, Joy Christensen, Guthrie, Ann Karrow, Kelley, Kendziorski, Pat McKenzie, Romas, Vicki Snyder, Mary Steinke and Jim Szczkowski.

Pictured above, from left to right, are Northeast Michigan Genealogical Society members Ann Karrow, Vicki Snyder, Edie Kelley, and Rene Kendziorski, in this picture taken by society member RoseMarie Guthrie.

All in all, this 14-year project has come to an end and those who worked on it feel sure it will add greatly to the pictorial history of this Northeastern Michigan area and its people.

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