Jeff Fry: Dedicated to preserving Poway’s history
By Emily Sorensen
Jeff Fry may have started out as a handyman, but he ended up as president — of the Poway Historical Society, that is.
“I’d done several construction projects for them,” said Fry of his introduction to the Poway Historical Society, “I put together some shelves and desks, and helped assemble to schoolroom. Handyman work.”
A longtime fan of history, Fry’s interest was peaked, and in 2009, when former board member Cecilia Burr mentioned the board of directors had an opening, Fry joined.
Now the president of the society, Fry has dedicated himself to the preservation of Poway’s history through the society’s museum, located in Old Poway Park. “I see the importance of preserving this,” said Fry. “It’s important to share it with the people.”
Prior to his involvement in the Poway Historical Society, Fry was involved in the construction business, though he said that has slowed down as he’s gotten more involved in the society. Fry’s family moved to Poway in 1960, when he was 7 years old. “All my memories of growing up are in Poway,” said Fry. “It kind of runs through the roots.”
One of the biggest projects Fry and the other volunteers of the Poway Historical Society have participated in these last few years is the upgrading of the society’s archives to true archival standards. In 2008, the City of Poway hired a professional archivist to evaluate the archives at the Poway Historical Museum, which the society maintains using volunteer labor. After determining that the archival methods used by the museum were not up to par, the city budgeted the historical society a three-year program to transfer all photos, documents and artifacts to archival standards. “Previously, collections were kept hodge-podge in cabinets, which can cause damage to the photos,” said Fry.
“The city has been very generous and helpful,” said Fry, “and the historical society volunteers put in a lot of man-hours. It’s been a labor of love.”
Now almost finished, all photos and documents have been transferred to acid-free paper and bindings to protect from damaged, and stored in acid-free archival boxes. Artifacts have been stored in protective wrappings, and Fry and the society have worked to improve their cataloguing. “It’s pretty impressive,” said Fry of the changes. “It’s brought us up to archival standards.”
Fry has also been working with other volunteers to begin transferring historical information into a digital format, which, when finished, will allow anyone online to search for information of Poway history without needed to come down and sort through stacks of newspapers and documents.
It has, and continues to be, a lot of work, but for Fry, it is all worth it. “The history of every place is important,” said Fry. “People want to revisit these times in history. They want to research old neighbors and family ancestors.”
More than just for his own interest, Fry wants to preserve Poway’s history for all the residents. “Everyone I’ve ever talked to has had some interest in history, especially about the place where they grew up,” said Fry, of the museum’s importance. “It’s an important service to the public.”
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