Volunteers salvaging documents damaged in Dauphin Historical Society building fire


DAUPHIN, Pa. (WHTM) — Members of the Dauphin-Middle Paxton community are coming together to salvage their history after a fire destroyed the historical society building last weekend.

Much of what remains is either burned, has smoke damage, or is still wet from crews fighting the fire.

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The documents in that building represent more than 200 years of history and community members say it’s impossible to overstate how much could be lost.

It’s a tedious process going through old documents and photos covered in black soot.

“Look how the pages all melted together,” Kathy Fisher, museum manager, said.

The Dauphin-Middle Paxton historical Society had just celebrated Dauphin Borough’s 250th anniversary before a fire devastated the place. Members have spent the last 25 years preserving history.

“It’s unbelievable the amount of paperwork and articles, things that people worked on, research that was done, it’s just hard to believe that that’s all–a lot of it’s gone,” Joan Megonnell, a charter member of the historical society, said.

Some records can be found online and reprinted.

“Some of it but not all of it, unfortunately,” Fisher said.

That’s why about 20 people showed up to help Fisher take apart binders of family trees, the house history project, death certificates, and more.

Artifacts filled a two-story building but now all that’s left, fits into a corner in a handful of boxes.

“They’re going to reproduce everything but we’re just putting it in the order that it was in the book to kind of help facilitate getting the books back together,” volunteer Beth Romero said.

“Everyone in the community has come out in some fashion to help us because they want to see us rebuild and that is our goal. It won’t ever be the same but we can still make it good again,” Fisher said.

“It’s not a mortal blow but it’s a blow to us, you know. We’ll come back. We will,” Megonnell said.

The work of sifting through the documents isn’t over.

The historical society is asking for volunteers to help again Monday morning starting at 9 a.m. at the Dauphin Home Association building.

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