Queer Places:
The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
Old Saint Andrew's Parish Church Cemetery Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA

Edward Milby Burton (June 5, 1898 - August 27, 1977) was a member of the Horace Walpole Society, elected in 1956 and honorary member since 1973. He was director of the Charleston Museum for 40 years and maintained that institution's high standards at a time when few other such facilities existed for preserving evidences of an earlier way of life. Burton's greatest contribution may have been in the encouragement he gave to artists and naturalists. He was the author of "South Carolina Silversmiths," a pamphlet on birds In his native state, and "Siege of Charleston," about the Union blockade of the city in the Civil War, and edited the monumental book, "South Carolina Bird Life." Burton's scientific accomplishments included discovery of a fish in the Philliplnes that was named for him, the "Diaphus Burtoni."

He was the son of Aline Roussel and Elliott Burton and married Sally Morris Pinckney ( 1896–1989)

When in Match 1931, Laura Bragg requested a five-year leave of absence from the The Charleston Museum to go to Pittsfield, MA, to supervise the rejuvenation of the Berkshire Museum, she noted that "the members of the staff had requested that no director from the north be brought in," and they suggested that one of the truster, Edward Milby Burton, a Charleston insurance broker and outdoorsman, be made acting director until her return. An active member of the board since January of 1930, Burton had spearheaded the drive to purchase the Wayne bird collection from Wayne's widow and, along with five other members of the board, had signed a note at a local bank for a loan to finance the acquisition. The board granted Bragg leave without salary (she was to be well paid by the Berkshire people) and agreed to the recommendation for her temporary replacement. E. Milby Burton was named as acting director and assumed his duties on 1 July 1931. In retrospect, it seems strange that the board would have granted Bragg such a lengthy leave of absence, especially soon after her involvement with the Valentine Museum, but she had served the museum well for nearly twenty-two years and the trustees appreciated her contributions, only two of them opposing her request. In January 1932, with Bragg still in Massachusetts, the board apparently decided that her continued absence would be inconsistent with the welfare of the museum, and Milby Burton was appointed as its director. Perhaps as a well-meaning attempt to ease the change, Laura Bragg was given the title of honorary director.

Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, Milky Burton had been brought to Charleston when he was two months old. The son of a successful Charleston lumberman, Burton received an early introduction to science and culture from his mother, who was born in the United States of French parents and had an appreciation for the arts and gracious living. While still a youngster, he was tutored in German and French and journeyed abroad with his mother. She introduced him to museums but insisted that he be more than just a casual visitor. As he once told a newspaper reporter, "I could go through them as fast as I wanted; Mother didn't care how quickly I got through, but when I came out the door I had to describe every outstanding thing in the place. If I missed one picture, I had to turn around and go back, even if my feet did hurt. I think that then I unconsciously acquired the general interest in museum work that I have had since I was knee high to a duck". His mother's insistence on thoroughness doubtless instilled the high regard for careful, disciplined observation that was evident in the scholarly works that he produced during his career at the Charleston Museum.

He was a member of the Preservation Society, the St. Cecilia Society, and the Carolina Plantation Society.


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