Volunteer celebrates history with job

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 15, 2004

Cindy Stoudenmire’s eyes light up when she talks about the Spencer rifle that killed a Yankee during the Civil War or the way Selma men pulled Senator Edmund Pettus in a buggy, without horses, when he returned from Washington.

While knowing information like this isn’t the bulk of her work at the Smitherman Building, it is what keeps her going.

“I like history, I like to know the little things behind what people do,” she said. “History is made by ordinary people that made mistakes, that have a sense of humor, that do strange things. That’s what I want to find out about.”

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Stoudenmire has been working at the Vaughan-Smitherman for a several months now. It’s already the best job she could ever ask for.

She’s responsible for everything that make a museum successful: cataloguing exhibits, promoting the building, raising funds, expanding the museums offers, and, in the case of the Vaughan-Smitherman, she’s responsible for taking care of all the bookings as well.

“It’s available for wedding receptions, birthdays, whatever anybody wants to do,” Stoudenmire said.

Still, it’s Stoudenmire’s love of history that keeps here involved in the museum.

“If you find out what we did, what your ancestors did, what the people that lived in your house before you did, then it’s something to be proud of, for everybody,” she said.

While knowing all about the first black U.S. Representative elected, Benjamin Sterling Turner, may not seem important to the future of Selma, Stoudenmire believes it is.

“He actually introduced a bill to pardon all the Confederate Generals,” she said. “Even though he was born a slave, he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder.”

Stoudenmire believes there’s something to be learned from history.

“Everybody in town needs to work toward making Selma (better),” she said. “Those that don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it and that’s pretty much true. We should take what they (our ancestors) did and build on it.”

The Vaughan-Smitherman Historic Building is located at the end of Alabama Street. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Tuesday through Saturday. For booking information or to donate an artifact, call the museum during business hours at 334-874-2174