Mary K. Burk Collection
Western Collection: Burk, M. (Box)
A rural school teacher and administrator, dairy farmer, neighborhood chronicler, and tireless supporter of the grange movement in northwestern Washington State, Mary Katherine Burke was born on November 13, 1898, in the log house of her family's pioneer farm. Her father, Martin Burk, immigrated to the U. S. from Germany in 1880 and, in 1886, established a homestead in the Sunrise district of Whatcom County near the town of Lynden, close to the Canadian border. In 1894, in Attica, New York, he married Marie Annette Mayer of Buffalo whose parents also immigrated from Germany. The third of five children born to Martin and Marie Burk, Mary K. Burk attended the one-room Sunrise Grade School through 8th grade, followed by Lynden High School, from which she graduated in 1916. In 1918 (pictured), she received an elementary teaching diploma from the Washington State Normal School at Bellingham (now Western Washington University).
During the next 23 years, Mary K. Burk taught and served as principal in several rural Whatcom County schools including the North Star, Haynie Grange, and Sunshine schools. Leaving the teaching profession to care for her parents, she began a 40 year career as a dairy farmer, independently managing a herd of Jersey cows. In 1920, she began submitting columns to the Lynden Tribune concerning happenings in the Sunrise/Delta area, an activity that she continued for the next 57 years. She also contributed articles to the Bellingham Herald, the Ferndale Record, and the Blaine Journal. Much of her reporting focused on the Delta Grange, organized in 1926, which she served as secretary from 1929 to 1972. She also wrote about weddings, anniversaries, and the various gatherings and activities of her family, friends, and neighbors. In 1973, she received the Gold Sheaf pin recognizing 50 years of continuous service to the grange. She was also a 50-year member of the Rebekah Lodge of Custer, Wash., a participant in activities of the Clam Diggers Association of descendants of county pioneers and the Whatcom County Old Settlers' Association, and a supporter of agricultural cooperatives such as the Western Farmers Association and Northwest Dairymen's Association. Mary K. Burk, known to her extended family as "Aunt May," died in Bellingham, Wash., on June 7, 1979, at the age of 80.
Scope and Content Note
The Mary K. Burk Collection consists of a small group of Burk family history materials, including land records; copies of newspaper articles written by, presumably written by, or naming Mary K. Burk; copies of newspaper articles collected by Mary K. Burk concerning her family, acquaintances, and local interests, in particular the Delta Grange; personal financial materials such as bank account pass books, real estate tax records, and income tax materials; correspondence; and personal memorabilia including goods and services receipts, World War II ration coupons, and travel souvenirs. The collection also includes a number of undated photographs of individuals, most unidentified, presumed to be acquaintances of Mary K. Burk or her family, as well as two scrapbooks, primarily of newspaper articles, maintained by Mary K. Burk. The materials in the collection span the years 1927-1983.
Notes on Arrangement
The collection is organized into numbered folders contained in two boxes and one box containing two scrapbooks. The arrangement is by Special Collections.
The Mary K. Burk Collection is the gift of René Casebeer and Valla L. Burk Leide on behalf of the Burk family, October 2003.
Some of the materials in this collection may be under copyright.
1/1 Burk family history materials
1/2 Land records
1/3 Newspaper articles bylined Mary K. Burk (1965-1977 and undated); newspaper articles (1962-1975 and undated),
presumably by Mary K. Burk
1/4 Newspaper articles about or naming Mary K. Burk (1966-1976 and undated)
1/5 Newspaper obituaries (1961-1975 and undated)
1/6 Miscellaneous newspaper clippings collected and some possibly authored by Mary K. Burk (1958-1977 and undated)
1/7 Insurance documents (1927-1978)
1/8 Real estate tax documents (1943-1983)
1/9 Federal income tax documents (1939-1949)
1/10 Contracts (1932-1961)
2/1 Personal correspondence
2/2 Personal memorabilia: good and services receipts, World War II ration coupons, travel souvenirs
2/3 Bank account passbooks and check record books (1919-1977)
2/4 Photographs: identified
2/5 Photographs: unidentified
2/6 Photographs: unidentified
3 Scrapbooks (2): clippings concerning the Delta Grange; various newspaper clippings by or about Mary K. Burk and about local topics and individuals