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Girl Scout brings Murrysville history into digital age

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Annmarie Miller, 13, is digitizing old photos for the Murrysville Historical Preservation Society as part of a community service project for the Girl Scouts. The photos will be displayed on the historical society's website. Miller is flanked by historical society members Carl Patty, Carol Intrieri and Charles Hall.

A local Girl Scout is tackling a project to make decades of Murrysville history available online and is working with the Murrysville Historical Preservation Society to help digitize old photos of the community.

Annmarie Miller, a Franklin Regional Middle School student with a passion for history, is taking on the photo-digitization project with an eye toward earning the Girl Scout Silver Award. To be considered for the Silver Award, a Scout must perform a at least 50 hours of work on a project that benefits the community.

The Murrysville Historical Preservation Society plans to redesign its website to feature the images Annmarie is scanning. Chuck Hall, a member of the historical group, came up with the idea for the project.

“I've known her for several years,” said Hall, one of Annmarie's mentors for the project. “I came up with the suggestion, and she took it from there.”

“Digitizing photos was an easy solution because we are doing a website, and the photos are right there,” Annmarie said. “I am getting advice and photos from my mentors, but besides that, I am working alone.”

Hall is helping to guide the process.

“My role is to collect the photos I have and to sit down and decide which ones are appropriate to include on the website,” he said. “We go through some photos, then enhance them on the computer and crop them together. Then, she works independently from home with scanning.”

In addition to scanning the photos, Annmarie, of Murrysville, is writing captions for each of them so the images can be categorized easily when uploaded to the website, said her mother, Jill Miller.

Members of the community are encouraged to donate old photos to the group.

“The photos are stored in acid free boxes within acid free sleeves,” said Joan Kearns, the former vice president of the historical society. “All historical documents are well kept in boxes in dry temperature controlled environments.”

Though the sleeves and boxes help preserve the images, they don't allow for wide circulation of the pictures. The scanning project will make the historic images available to a wider audience.

“It is definitely important to digitize old photos,” Hall said.

“To preserve the photos in some form and make them available to the community at large is important; having them on the website is the easiest way.”

The project has piqued Annmarie's interest in local history.

“The photos have made me want to go to the places in the photos and see how it has and hasn't changed,” she said.

She said she also has become aware of the need to preserve history, particularly “what we have left of the beginning of Murrysville.”

One image stands out among the many Annmarie, 13, has seen.

“I do have a favorite photo, and that is of the old railroad station,” she said.

The website will be relaunched when the project is completed.

Jacqueline Dell is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2311 or jdell@tribweb.com.

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