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Security Microfilm Storage Program

About the Program


The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) operates the Local Government Security Microfilm Storage Program. The program began in 1987 and stores approximately 200,000 rolls of microfilm for state, county and local governments and school districts. PHMC works through the Records Division of the Pennsylvania State Archives (PSA) to provide this service.

  • Goal: to provide safe, cost-efficient storage for permanently valuable records on microfilm in a properly monitored temperature and humidity controlled environment.
  • Location: the private records center is leased from Iron Mountain at its underground facility in Pennsylvania and some microfilm is stored at the State Archives Building in Harrisburg.
  • Cost: a one-time fee of $5.00 per roll of film.
  • Contact: for additional information or to receive an informational packet please email our Local Government Section or call (717) 783-7330.


Parameters of the Program

  1. Though the storage program is basically restricted to microfilm copies of records scheduled for permanent retention in the County and Municipal Records Schedules, the PHMC will consider storing other film based on their genealogical or historical value.
  2. Diazo and vesicular film copies cannot be accepted for storage since they do not meet standards for permanent records. Only wet processed silver halide film in roll form can be used as a security copy. Film in cartridges cannot be accepted. The PHMC reserves the right not to accept film unsuitable for storage.
  3. Legal custody of the film remains with the transferring office, and the transferring official has the right to withdraw the microfilm from the program at any time. There are costs associated with the removal of the film that will be the responsibility of the records official.
  4. Access to the film will be totally restricted in that only the transferring office can authorize use of the film. No microfilm or copies of any kind will be made by the PHMC without written permission from the transferring office.


Responsibilities of the PHMC

  1. Store the security microfilm at a private PHMC-leased records center or at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg, PA.
  2. Assumes the entire annual rental charge for the records center.
  3. Verify the transfer of each roll upon arrival at the State Archives and return signed copies of the transfer forms to acknowledge their receipt.
  4. PHMC staff will verify that each roll is silver halide film suitable for permanent storage and will do random sampling to check film quality and condition.
  5. Should the PHMC find it necessary for any reason to terminate the Local Government Security Microfilm Storage Program, the PHMC will assume responsibility for returning the film to the transferring official or turning the film over to Iron Mountain staff under instruction received from the official.



Participating county, municipal, and judicial officials shall:

  1. Pay a one-time handling and accessioning fee of $5.00 per roll to help cover the costs of the initial inspection and handling of the film. A limited number of reels may be sent each year. No annual storage fee will be assessed to transferring officials.
  2. Pay the costs for reference services such as the temporary return of microfilm to the official, the refiling of film, or the duplication of security and user copies at the storage site. PHMC staff will directly handle all reference requests. A 10% PHMC administrative fee is assessed on all service requests.
  3. Properly box, label, and ship film, along with a records transfer list to the State Archives. Acid-free or plastic boxes, labels and shipping lists must conform to Program guidelines and permanency standards approved by the County and Local Government Records Committees. [The PHMC does offer preparation services at a rate of $15.00 per hour which includes arranging the film in series order, preparing transmittal and receipt forms, re-housing and labeling microfilm when necessary. Acid free or plastic boxes must be supplied by the participating official.]
  4. Be responsible for paying the prevailing handling and accessioning fee should they wish to return withdrawn film to the program. The temporary removal of film for reference or duplication purposes does not constitute withdrawal from the program.
  5. Be responsible for the cost of rectifying any technical problems found as a result of any periodic PHMC inspection of the microfilm.


Sources for Microfilm Boxes

Conservation Resources International, Inc.
5532 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22151
(800) 634-6932
(703) 321-7730

The Hollinger Corporation
9401 Northeast Dr.
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
(800) 634-0491

University Products, Inc.
517 Main Street
Holyoke, MA 01041-0101
(800) 628-1912


Specifications for Microfilm Boxes

Boxes for 35 mm roll microfilm

  • lignin-free
  • minimum pH: 8.5
  • approximate size: 3 3/4" x 1 9/16"

Boxes for 16 mm roll microfilm

  • lignin-free
  • minimum pH: 8.5
  • approximate size: 3 3/4" x 3 3/4" x 3/4"