Have you ever noticed the two display cases on the second floor of the Media-Upper Providence Free Library? Well then, you’ve had your first encounter with the Media Historic Archives Commission (MHAC).
The commission is the custodian for photographs, slides, film, newspaper articles, electronic recording tapes or materials, historic notes, memorabilia, artifacts, and archeological findings that relate to the borough and neighboring communities. It was started by lifelong Media resident Frank Lees in 1987.
The display at the library is just a small representation of the vast collection maintained by MHAC. “We have thousands of items in the archives,” said Adam Levine, chair of MHAC. “More than 3,000 of our photographs can be viewed in the online collection at http://www.mediahistoricarchives.org, and we hope to get other things up on the website soon.”
The archives are accessible by appointment and managed by five volunteer commissioners appointed by Borough Council. Besides Levine, other commission members are Pat Lemly, Kathy LoRusso, Walt Cressler, and Stephanie Gaboriault.
“Most of the inquiries we get come from people who want to learn more about their properties or find genealogical information about family members who may have lived in this area,” said Levine. “We also get a fair number of donations of Media material, which we’re always grateful for.” Anyone with inquiries, or information about possible donations, can contact MHAC at email@example.com. “We’ll take anything, no matter how dirty or worthless you think it is, as long it’s related to Media and the vicinity,” Levine said.
In 2016, the Borough Council approved the purchase of a new computer and two scanners for MHAC, and paid for new shelving and furnishings for the archive’s space in the new library. “This equipment allowed us to scan many of the photographs in our collection, which are now available in a searchable database on the MHAC website,” Levine said. These include more than 1,800 glass negatives taken by Media photographer Stephen H. Appleton between 1888 and 1909, scanned and cataloged by Levine, and the Frank Lees collection, which was scanned and cataloged by MHAC volunteer Chris Welc. The next collection to go online will consist of more than 800 photos taken around 1950 by Media photographer Franklin Zimmerman, the negatives of which were scanned and cataloged by volunteer Addie Ciannella.