John McWilliams has taken the torch from Howard Frame, so to speak.

“I am actually,” said McWilliams, who's the Porterville Historical Museum's archivist. “It's interesting.”

McWilliams is essentially doing what Frame did basically during the first half of the 20th century: Collect and preserve Porterville's historical photos.

So McWilliams is helping to lead the Porterville Historical Museum's mission to preserve Porterville's and Southeaster Tulare County's antique and vintage photos.

That's what Frame, who was a Porterville businessman, did during his time. McWilliams has spent the last two years securing and organizing what is a vast collection from Frame of original photographs of Porterville.

And of course, well-known Porterville historian Jeff Edwards, recently donated his collection which is enormous. And McWilliams has donated his collected.

Sadly, the Porterville Public Library's collection was destroyed by the February 10, 2020 fire that destroyed the library. The library was in the process of transferring its collection to the museum when the fire happened.

So the museum has purchased multiple fire proof filing cabinets to store the historic photos. McWilliams posted on Facebook about his effort to preserve historic photos for the museum this past weekend. “We are in a race against time to find more original images for the collection,” stated McWilliams on his Facebook page.

On the Facebook post, McWilliams asked for help from anyone who has or knows how historic photos can be obtained. And McWilliams added on his Facebook post financial assistance is needed for the project, including digitizing.

Thanks to donations from Stan Edwards and Bank of the Sierra, the museum now has the funds necessary to digitize the dozens of boxes filled with photos donated by Edwards.

“We've had a lot of community support the past year,” McWilliams said. All things considered despite the COVID-19 pandemic, McWilliams added “were actually doing very well” about the museum. Community members and businesses have made numerous donations over the past year to keep the museum going.

McWilliams added he has been able to preserve microfilm for the museum of the Porterville Recorder that basically goes all the way back to its beginning in 1908. “Which is important for our history,” he said.

Historian David Hawley has also been among those who have played a major role in the preservation effort. He has launched a Go Fund Me page to help with the preservation effort as well.

The goal in the Go Fund Me effort is to raise $5,000. Those who would like to donate can go here: https://gofund.me/ed055f82

Those who would like to help with the preservation effort can also contact McWilliams, (559) 310-7270 or 3rjohn@gmail.com.

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