Al Burgert and first car on
Davis Islands : Tampa, Fla., 1925.
The Burgert family's impact on commercial photography began in 1899, when S.P. Burgert and Son first opened a photographic studio in Tampa. By 1918, the Burgert Brothers Commercial Photography Studio, with brothers Jean and Al Burgert at the helm, was firmly established in Tampa providing commercial photography services to the West Coast region of Florida. The firm continued in operation until 1963. During this time, the brothers took over 80,000 photographs for their clients. Burgert Brothers photographs appeared in Life and National Geographic magazines, as well as local newspapers, advertisements, promotional brochures and displays for stores and offices. The distinctive handwritten Burgert Brothers logo on the lower corner of the photographs became a hallmark of photographic excellence, reflecting both the quality of the Burgert's work and their business integrity.
After the Burgert Brothers Studio closed, their photographs and negatives were stored in a tin-roofed garage in South Tampa. Many negatives were destroyed by heat, humidity and rain. The Friends of the Library, recognizing the historic significance of the photographic images, purchased the collection for the Library so the the Burgerts' photographs would be accessible to library customers.
To forestall further damage, the Library began the task of transferring the nitrate and celluose acetate images to modern safety film. Aids by grants received in 1988 and 1992 from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission, and funds from the Library System's budget, the Library has preserved nearly 15,000 of the endangered 8" x 10" images.
Today the negatives are preserved in a climate-controlled vault in the John F. Germany Public Library. In addition to duplicating the fragile negatives, the Library has made reference prints for public examination.