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For several months this winter, local photographer Phillip Michael “Mr. Phab” Whitley photographed Franklin County women who have made historical contributions to the local community.

Partnering with local genealogist Pam Anderson, Whitley created a gallery of portraits and written bios recognizing local women who have achieved “female first” status.

That gallery and the women’s stories are part of a fundraising public art exhibit at Coyle Free Library opening Friday. The exhibit shines a light on Women’s History Month in March, according to organizers.

“I wanted to create something that focuses on and celebrates the achievements of women in Franklin County as female leaders making a positive impact on the community,” Whitley said.

The project includes community leaders such as Chambersburg Borough Council President Alice Elia and former Franklin Commissioner Cheryl Plummer, as well as leaders in the almost every segment of local society.

Womens History Month exhibit
Alice Elia is Chambersburg Borough Council’s first female president. (Mr. Phab Photo courtesy Phillip Michael Whitley)

It features women who have all been glass ceiling breakers, carving their names into local history as the “first female” to achieve, be elected, or create something. Their “firsts” include heading government bodies, businesses, non-profits. They include leaders in the arts, music, theater and religion.

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Friday Reception Opens Exhibit

Whitley’s photo exhibit, accompanied by Anderson’s biographical sketches, opens Friday at Coyle Free Library and runs through March 31.

A 5:30 p.m. reception gives the public an opportunity to meet Whitley, Anderson and the women featured in the photographs.

Whitley hopes those who view the exhibit will be inspired as he was getting to know the women as he photographed them.

“I hope they see local women working wonders,” he said. “But most importantly, I hope seeing this kind of positive local representation creates a confidence and sense of pride for women of all ages who call Franklin County home.”

The exhibit highlights Women’s History Month in March. It is also a fundraiser for the Franklin County Library System and Healthy Community Partnership’s Go Girls Go program.

Donations supporting the exhibit will go toward books for the program’s participants and their mentors, as well as an ongoing “girl power” program at the county’s libraries.

Mr. Phab photos courtesy Phillip Michael Whitley

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Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on April 4th.
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