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Hometown historians: Kirby, Kendall honored for making Stafford's past a part of the future
Two new honorees join Stafford's Keepers of the Knowledge program.

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Date published: 7/18/2001

BARBARA KIRBY and Mary Cary Kendall will be making some history of their own tomorrow instead of following their usual pursuit, which is to research, restore and preserve Stafford's heritage.

Kirby and Kendall are the two newest members of the Stafford County Historical Society's "Keepers of the Knowledge" program.

They will be honored at the Society's monthly meeting tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers at the Administration Center.

Kirby and Kendall will be presented plaques recognizing their "dedication, special witness and enduring contributions" as vital links in "recording and understanding our local, regional and national history."

Society member Steve Gambaro is the motivating force behind the Keepers program. It is based on the American Indian concept of having elders of the tribe provide younger generations with oral histories of lasting value.

The Society's long-term goal is to display photographs of the Keepers, along with taped interviews and transcripts, at a Stafford County Museum when one is established.

Four longtime county residents--George L. Gordon Jr., Dr. H. Stewart Jones, Marion Brooks Robinson and D.P. Newton--were the first class of Keepers honored last July.

"I was quite surprised and very humbled" by the selection, said Kirby. "When Steve [Gambaro] called to tell me, I just said, 'You've got
to be kidding.'"

As a volunteer archivist at the courthouse, Kirby probably is more familiar with information contained in Stafford's old records than just about anyone in county government.

Wearing white gloves to keep oils and acid on the skin from damaging the documents, Kirby has spent hundreds of hours during the past 10 years reorganizing and indexing county documents.

"Working with the records is fascinating," said Kirby. "You get to see the whole life of Stafford County passing before your eyes.

"And one thing you learn is that human nature doesn't change--just the names change."

Kirby is a native of Oklahoma City and is retired from a job as a research assistant. She migrated to Stafford from Prince William County about 12 years ago. And now, she rates as an expert on everything from land and tax records to old cemeteries.

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