Nebraska museum seeks to identify 80,000 donated photos

March 23, 2019

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) — Among the thousands of photos donated to the Lincoln County Historical Museum by Don Milroy, family photos of Dale and Lori Easton were found.

Milroy, the former owner of Brown-Harano Photography Studio, closed up shop last year. A collection of about 700 boxes and more than 80,000 photographs is now in the process of being identified, the North Platte Telegraph reported.

“Bill McGahan used to be the principal at our school, and he sent us an email saying that we had family pictures at the historical museum,” Lori Easton said. “It was exciting.”

Her brother Dan Christensen was a priest and the photos McGahan told them about were of an important occasion.

“One (package of photos) is my brother’s ordination,” Easton said. “He has since passed.”

Dale Easton said he saw the name of a close relative on the museum website.

“I saw one of my uncles from 1960-something,” Dale Easton said. “His immediate family grew up around the Sioux City area, so you never know, we’ll see what it looks like.”

Milroy was at the museum on a recent Wednesday checking up on the progress of the project.

“I’m hoping they make a million dollars,” Milroy said of the museum, which is offering the photos to people for donations.

He said when he still had the studio, at least once a month somebody asked him to look for old photos. Donating the photos was not something Milroy said he envisioned, but his wife, Angie, who died in 2017, had other ideas.

“My wife, like six years ago before she passed away, was doing hair for some lady whose husband worked out (at the museum),” Milroy said. ”(Angie) and I talked about it and she asked, ‘What are you going to do with all those negatives.’ (I said) probably dump them in the trash.”

His wife said “you can’t do that” and told Milroy about donating to the museum.

“It was maybe two or three more years before I was ready to do it,” Milroy said. “So my granddaughter came back from Kansas to help me.”

He moved the boxes and boxes of photos downstairs at the studio in historic downtown North Platte so museum curator Jim Griffin could see them.

“When Jim came in, he said, ‘My God, I didn’t know you had that many,’” Milroy said.

Names of photographs that have been identified are listed on the museum website at lincolncountymuseum.org. McGahan, a museum board member, said it is updated regularly.

“The biggest issue is getting people out here and letting them know what we have,” McGahan said.

Not only are there photos of folks from the North Platte area, but McGahan said they are from all over the country.

“He’s got pictures from South Dakota to Kansas, New York, California,” McGahan said. “I looked on these envelopes and it says so-and-so from Van Nuys, California.”

The museum is offering the photos and negatives for a donation, which is what Milroy intended with the project.

McGahan and Griffin both said they can’t look for specific photos because there are just too many. But they encourage folks to look at the website to see what has been discovered so far.

“If they don’t see a name on the website, then we have not discovered it yet,” Griffin said.

Meanwhile, the Eastons enjoyed seeing the photos they came to pick up while the work of filing the photos continued in the background.


Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, http://www.nptelegraph.com