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John J. Burger Collection

John J. Burger Collection

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Guide to the John J. Burger Collection


New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Special Collections
P.O. Box 800, 5798 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
(607) 547-1470

Profile Description

Creation: This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2014-02-26T16:27-0500

Repository: New York State Historical Association - Research Library
Title: John J. Burger Collection
Dates: 1869-2011
Quantity: 10.5 cubic feet + 1 oversize folder (OVS+)
Funding Source:The processing and cataloging of this collection were made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation for South Central New York, Johnson City, N.Y. The finding aid was made available electronically through a Regional Bibliographic Data Bases (RBDB) grant from the South Central Regional Library Council, Ithaca, N.Y.
Identification: Coll. No. 437
Language: English

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of extensive research material related to the Southern New York Electric Railway and other New York State railroads. It contains mostly photograph albums, along with original records of the Southern New York Railway Company and the Otsego & Herkimer Railroad Company, publications, correspondence, photographic negatives, newspaper clippings, and slides, ca. 1869-2008. This includes notes, drafts, and correspondence of William Reed Gordon, who also did research on the Southern New York Railway Company and corresponded with Burger frequently. In addition, the collection contains more than 1000 postcards of Otsego County, N.Y., particularly Richfield Springs. Also contained is a 513 page typescript draft of John J. Burger's, so far unpublished, "The Leatherstocking Trolley: A Detailed Chronological History of the Southern New York Railway and Its Predecessor Companies." Note that Burger referred to a sizable portion of his research notes as, "Data on the Leatherstocking Route."

Arrangement Note

Series 1. Research Papers. 1901-2008. 3.5 cu. ft. (3.5 boxes)

Series 2. Photograph Albums, Negatives, and Slides. 1869-1981, 2011. 5 cu. ft. (5 boxes)

Series 3. Postcards. 1891-1956. 2 cu. ft. (2.5 boxes)

Biographical/Historical Note

John J. Burger, who put together this collection of New York State railroad material, worked for many years as chief pharmacist at St. Luke's Memorial Hospital Center, Utica, N.Y. His personal obsession in life was digging out the stories behind New York State's railroads and documenting their histories.

Burger's intrigue with railroads was first established at his grandfather's cottage at Canadarago Lake, Otsego County, N.Y., where, as a six-year-old boy, he used to sit by the tracks waiting for the daily freight to go by on the Southern New York Electric Railway. One day in 1941, when a wrecking crew came by tearing up the Oneonta-Mohawk line, he knew that the time he spent watching the freight cars was over. In high school, he began hunting through the library for background information on the railway. This search became a lifelong endeavor as he gathered newspaper articles, postcards, photographs, letters, and other primary sources, not only on the Southern New York Electric Railway, but on other New York State railroads. He compiled this exhaustive collection, including the many scrapbooks of photographs, for over 21 years.

After retiring and moving to Jamaica, N.Y., Burger decided to find a permanent home for his entire collection. In 2012 he donated it to the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, N.Y., where it is now available to railroad enthusiasts and researchers.


Copyright Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of fair use, that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

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