There are several ways to do that,
But in your case, I believe the best would be having a page somewhere
and include the "protected" files.

Alternativelly look into the Chapter 17. of PHP Documentation: HTTP
authentication with PHP


Maxim Maletsky
Founder, Chief Developer   // where PHP Begins

I have one directory that is protected with an .htaccess file on my
where I store all member content. What I want to do is have a page where
members can log in, and after they have entered there user name and
I what the php script to authenticate them against the .htaccess file.
they are authenticated I would like to keep track of that as one of
session variables, so that they do not have to re-authenticate when they
to access content in the protected directory. Essentially what I am
to do is give them access to the .htaccess protected based from a
form". Instead of requiring that they get the standard user name and
password pop up window that one gets when you try to access a directory
is password protected on Apache. 

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