PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When it comes to archiving Pittsburgh’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a plan in place.

Did you know the city’s archive department is just three years old? This past spring, city leaders searched records to see how Pittsburgh handled the 1918 flu pandemic. But leaders quickly learned those records didn’t exist.

Tucked deep inside the City-County Building sits the vault, a small room filled with papers. Archivist Nichols Hartley is very young, but his job is rooted in the past.

From tri-fold paper ordinances to council records older than your great grandfather, it’s hard to believe that Hartley is the city’s first on the job.

“When I started, it became apparent that whenever records became inactive and not frequently used in the office, were usually relegated to basements or closets,” said Hartley.

He is joined by assistant Charles Succop, who helps Hartley scan everything they can get their hands on, bringing the city’s records online and helping city employees work from home.

“This is something that’s digitized, and this is something they can access remotely from their office since every employee cannot take home these books,” said Succop.

Some of the books might not make it another 50 to 100 years so in a few months, the books will be online in a city catalog.

Since we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, all the files since March are still considered active files. But once we make it through the pandemic, Hartley and Succop will take all the records and make them accessible virtually.

Meghan Schiller