Resources for the Study of Alexandria History
- A visual timeline of Alexandria History can be seen in the Torpedo Factory Arcade, on the waterfront at the base of King Street.
- Discovering the Decades, created in honor of the City's 25Oth Birthday in 1999, places Alexandria's history in a wider perspective.
- Travelers’ Accounts of the Alexandria Waterfront provides additional information and is also organized by decade.
- This Day in History lists daily events in Alexandria's history.
Out of the Attic is published each week in the Alexandria Times newspaper. Sort the Out of Attic Archives by date, or search for locations, people, or topics of special interest.
Studying Alexandria History discusses resources for studying Alexandria's History and some focus areas the Office of Historic Alexandria's research.
- Conducting your own Historic Research. Do you have questions about the history of your property, genealogy, or local history? The Alexandria Library's Local History/Special Collections division is the best place to start your research. We provide a list of additional resources available in and around Alexandria.
- A Brief History of Alexandria.
The African American Community
- General History
- Early Free Black Neighborhoods
- The Civil War
- Black Neighborhoods after the Civil War
- Immune Regiments in the Spanish American War
- Lynchings and the Equal Justice Initiative
- Education and the Parker Grey School
- Civil Rights: Samuel Tucker and American's First Sit-Down Strike
- The Ramsey Homes and Public Housing
Archaeology and Alexandria's First People
Archaeologists recovered evidence of prehistoric toolmaking on the following Alexandria sites:
- Adams, Robert
M. Preliminary Archaeological Investigation of the Stonegate
Development (Parcel C) West Braddock Road, City of Alexandria, Virginia.
International Archaeological Consultants, Rawlins, Wyoming, 1996.
- Adams, Robert
Archaeological Investigation of the Undeveloped Upland Terraces in Mark Center,
City of Alexandria, Virginia. International
Archaeological Consultants, Rawlins, Wyoming, 1994. Public Summary
- Adams, Robert
Archaeological Investigations of Two Storm Drain Corridors at the Stonegate
Development, Alexandria, Virginia. International
Archaeological Consultants, Rawlins, Wyoming, 1993.
- Adams, Robert
M. [et al.] Archaeological Investigations of the Stonegate
Development (Including Sites 44AX31, AX166 and 167), City of Alexandria,
Virginia. International Archaeological Consultants, Rawlins, Wyoming,
1993. Appendices A-C. Appendices D-M. Public Summary
- Pappas, Madeleine,
Janice G. Artemel and Elizabeth A. Crowell. Alexandria Federal Courthouse Phase I Historical
Archaeological Investigation, Alexandria, Virginia.
Engineering-Science, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1991. Public Summary
- Parson, Kimberly and Caleb Christopher. Phase II Archaeological Investigation of Sites 44AX127 and 44AX128,
Witter Street Recreation Complex, Alexandria, Virginia. URS Corporation,
Florence, New Jersey, 2004.
- Petraglia, Michael
D., Catharine B. Toulmin and Madeleine Pappas. An Archaeological Survey at the Alexandria Business
Center, Alexandria, Virginia. Engineering-Science, Washington,
D.C., 1993. Public Summary
- Pfanstiehl, Cynthia,
Elizabeth A. Crowell, Eugene Goodman, Donald Hull, Edith Baird and Ray Wood. Winkler Tract Phase I and II Archaeological
Investigations. Engineering-Science, Inc., Washington, D.C.,
- Gardner, William M.,
Kimberly A. Snyder, and Tammy Bryant. Phase III Data Recovery Excavations of the Prehistoric
Component of 44AX177 and 44AX176, Stonegate Development, Parcel C, City of
Alexandria, Virginia. Thunderbird Archeological Associates,
Inc., Woodstock, Virginia, 1995. Public Summary
- Gardner, William M., Kimberly A. Snyder, Tammy Bryant and Gwen
J. Hurst. Phase II, Archeological Investigations of an Historic Area Within
44AX177, City of Alexandria, Virginia. Thunderbird
Archeological Associates, Inc., Woodstock, Virginia, 1995.
- Ferland, Sara C.,
Mike Klein and Emily A. Lindtveit. Cultural Resources Investigations of the 4-acre Mark Center
VI Parcel (Area A) and One Acre o the 6-Acre Mark Center Buildings 2A, 2B and 3
Parcel (Area B) within the Mark Center Complex on Seminary Road in the City of
Alexandria, Virginia. Cultural Resources, Inc., Fredericksburg,
Virginia, 2009. Public Summary
- Koski-Karrell, Daniel.Background Study
and Archaeological Evaluation for the First Addition to Colonial Park
Development Project at the Mount Ida House, 2404 Russell Road, Alexandria,
Virginia. Karell Archaeological Services, Arlington, Virginia, 1993.
- Sipe, Boyd, with Francine W. Bromberg, Steven Shephard, Pamela
J. Cressey, and Eric Larsen. The Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial,
City of Alexandria, Virginia. Archaeological Data Recovery at Site 44AX0179.
Thunderbird Archaeology, a division of Wetland Studies, Gainesville, VA and
Alexandria Archaeology, Office of Historic Alexandria, 2014. (Contact Alexandria Archaeology Museum to view report.)
- Walker, Mark K.,
Madeleine Pappas, John Bedell, Janice Artemel and Heidy Fogel. Archaeological Investigations at the Alexandria Federal
Courthouse Site (44AX164), Alexandria, Virginia. Engineering
Science, Chartered, 1993. Public Summary
- Ziegler, Danica L. and Thomas W. Bodor. Archeological
and Historical Investigations at the Bryan Property, 2826 King Street,
Alexandria, Virginia. Greenhorne &
O'Mara, Inc., Fairfax, Virginia, 1998.
Early Alexandria: The Colonial and Federal Periods
Archaeological Site Reports
Selected listings from the Alexandria Archaeology Bibliography.
- Adams, Robert M. The Archaeological Investigation of the Former Preston Plantation and Alexandria Canal at Potomac Yard . Alexandria, Virginia. International Archaeological Consultants, Hayes, Virginia, 1996. The former location of the Alexander family’s Preston plantation and cemetery, dating to the early 1700s.
- Artemel, Janice G. Elizabeth Crowell, Donald A. Hull and Dennis Knepper - A Phase IIA Archaeological Study, Old Ford Plant Site, Alexandria, Virginia. Appendices. Engineering-Science, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1988. Testing uncovered large buried timbers associated with the 18th-century wharf.
- Engineering Science, Inc. Maritime Archaeology at Keith's Wharf and Battery Cove (44AX119): Ford's Landing, Alexandria, Virginia Chapters I-VI - Chapters VII-X - Appendices, Washington, D.C., 1993. This report includes extensive research on wharf construction.
- Foss, Robert M. Excavations at Gadsby's Tavern, Alexandria, Virginia, 1974. The courtyard showed evidence 18th-century outbuildings.
- Hurst, Gwen J. Archival Investigations of 101 Wales Alley, City of Alexandria, Virginia. Thunderbird Archeological Associates, Inc., Woodstock, Virginia, 2000. This was the site of a wharf adjacent to Fitzgerald’s Warehouse.
- John Milner Associates. The Historic Structure Report for Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia. West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1979. This Historic Structure Report of the “Church of Alexandria,” built in 1773 and attended by George Washington.
- Knepper, Dennis A. and Kimberly Prothro. Historical and Archaeological Investigation of Roberdeau's Wharf at Harborside, Alexandria, Virginia . Engineering-Science, Inc., Washington, D.C. 1989. Wharf and rum distillery owned by Daniel Roberdeau. By 1791, the old distillery served as a warehouse and sail loft.
- Morton, Brown W. III. A Report on the Structural Condition and State of Deterioration of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop Museum, 105-107 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 1984. Among the oldest preserved apothecaries in the United States and the only apothecary in Virginia to operate continuously from the 18th–20th century (1796–1933).
- Schweigert, Kurt P. West End. Prepared for Norfolk Southern Corporation (Carlyle Project), 1998. West End Village was a small community on Duke Street.
- Tolson, Sarah. Carlyle House Archaeology Project Final Report, Draft 2. Manuscript. Carlyle House, Alexandria, Virginia, 1980. This report detailed the 1753 house’s construction and design influences and a history of the property Results of the archaeological investigation included such features as well shafts and privies with artifacts dating from the time of John Carlyle.
- Williams, Martha R. Phase I and II Archeological Investigations at Cameron Farm (44AX182) and Cameron Mills (44AX112), Hoffman Properties, Alexandria, Virginia. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., Frederick, Maryland, 2005. Appendices. There were two adjoining mills by 1798. Excavated were foundations of both mill buildings, portions of a mill race, and a small pier on the old shoreline of Hunting Creek.
- Williams, Martha R. Data Recovery at the West Family Cemetery (44AX183) Block 2, Hoffman Properties, Alexandria, Virginia . Appendices . R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., Frederick, Maryland, 2004. Public Summary Archaeologists found the West family burial vault, seven associated burials, and seven graves outside the vault. Osteological studies tentatively identified the remains of four individuals in the vault as Hugh West’s wife, Sybil, and their children.
These articles were written by retired Alexandria archaeologist Barbara H. Magid and published in Ceramics in America, a publication of the Chipstone Foundation.
- A New Look at Old Stoneware: The Pottery of Tildon Easton, 2004.
- Commemorative Wares in George Washington's Hometown, 2006.
- In the Philadelphia Style: The Pottery of Henry Piercy, by Barbara H. Magid and Bernard K. Means, 2003.
- Robert H. Miller, Importer: Alexandria and St. Louis, 2008.
- Sugar Refining Pottery from Alexandria and Baltimore, 2005.
- "Stone-ware of excellent quality, Alexandria manufacture" Part I: The Pottery of John Swann, 2012.
- "Stone-ware of excellent quality, Alexandria manufacture" Part II: The Pottery of Benedict C. Milburn, 2013.
The Alexandria Chronicle
For links, see the Alexandria Historical Society listing of Chronicle articles.
- Hugh West and the West Family's Momentous Role in Founding and Developing Alexandria and Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, Virginia by Jim Bish, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 2010
- Alexandria and Belhaven: A Case of Dual Identity by Diane Riker, The Alexandria Chronicle, Summer 2009
- A British Fleet Sails into Alexandria by Ted Pulliam, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 2009
- A Tale of Two Continents: How Fortune and Ability Affected Two Brothers: Doctor George Carlyle of Cumberland County, England, and John Carlyle of Alexandria, Virginia by Jim Bartlinski, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 2008
- Gunpowder, Flour, Fire and Heirs: A Waterfront Block from Duke to Wolfe Streets by Ted Pulliam, The Alexandria Chronicle, Fall 2007
- The Fitzgerald Warehouse: The Early History of an Alexandria Landmark by Diane Riker, The Alexandria Chronicle, Summer 2007
- Reaching for the Channel: Some Documentary and Archaeological Evidence of Extending Alexandria's Waterfront by Steven J. Shephard, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 2006
- Isaac Todd's 1804 Alexandria Profiles by Mona Leithiser Dearborn, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 1994
- Alexandria, Virginia's Market Square by Penny C. Morrill, The Alexandria Chronicle, Spring 1993
- From Alexandria to Albany: The Journal of Mrs. Charlotte Brown, 1754-1757 by Ethelyn Cox, Alexandria History Magazine, 1980
- Gen. Edward Braddock: A Retrospective by Ethelyn Cox, Alexandria History Magazine, 1980.
- The Alexandria Market Square by Jamees D. Munson, Alexandria History Magazine, 1980.
- The "Precarious Trade" of a Virginia Tobacco Merchant: Harry Piper of Alexandria, 1749-1776 by Thomas M. Preissir, Alexandria History Magazine, 1978
The Historic Alexandria Quarterly
- Loyalism in Eighteenth Century Alexandria, Virginia , by Marshall Stopher Kiker, Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Winter 2001
- Commercial Credit in Eighteenth Century Alexandria: Default and Business Failure , by H. Talmage Day and Barbara Morgan, Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Winter 2000
- The Development of Early Taverns in Alexandria , by James C. Mackay, III, Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Fall 2000
- Inventories from Alexandria: What Personal Objects Reveal About our Historic Buildings and Their Owners, by William Seale, Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring 2000
- Viewing Alexandria from the Perspective of Gunston Hall: George Mason's Associations with the Colonial Port Town , by Andrew S. Veech, Ph.D., Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Winter 1999
- Archaeology on the Waterfront. As redevelopment takes place along Alexandria's waterfront, archaeologists are exploring the properties undergoing development. Excavations took place in 2015-2016 at the Hotel Indigo Site at 220 S. Union Street and in 2017-2018 at Robinson Terminal South, at 2 Duke Street. Learn about the ships, warehouses and other discoveries.
- Travelers Accounts of the Historic Alexandria Waterfront
- Howson & Brent , by Ted Pulliam. It was probably the biggest real estate deal in the history of Northern Virginia. It took place in 1669 and included all the land on which Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, Reagan National Airport, and Old Town Alexandria now are located.
- Alexandria and Belhaven , by Diane Riker. For the first dozen years of its history, Alexandria, Virginia, was a town with two names. Which came first: Alexandria or Belhaven? This paper attempts to disentangle fact from fantasy.
- Chadwicks on the Strand , by Diane Riker. From a sandy bank to a restaurant: the development of the Lawrason and Fowle warehouses on the Strand.
- Alexandria’s First Wharf , by Ted Pulliam. In 1749, Alexandria was situated on high bluffs that formed a crescent-shaped bay with two points of land at each end of town extending out into the bay. This paper examines the first wharf, its location, date, and builder.
- Fitzgerald Warehouse , by Diane Riker. At the corner of King and Union streets in Alexandria stands the earliest waterfront structure the city retains from its heady days as an international port. Seen today from across King Street, the brick and stone warehouse, built for Col. John Fitzgerald in the mid-1790s, appears to tilt toward the river. And the river is where its story begins. This paper is updated and enlarged from Ms. Riker’s, “The Fitzgerald Warehouse: The Early History of an Alexandria Landmark,” published by the Alexandria Historical Society in The Alexandria Chronicle, Summer 2007.
- The Warehouses of Lower King Street , by Diane Riker. In 1749, when the first town lots went on sale, the present 100 block was well east of dry land. But investors realized the potential. This paper examines early owners and development.
Alexandria during the Civil War
- From the Alexandria Library, Special Collections
- From the Carlyle House
- From the Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery
- From the National Trust for Historic Preservation
- From the Alexandria Historical Society
- Alexandria Archaeological Site Reports relating to the Civil War
The 20th Century and Beyond
Guidebooks, Reports and City Directories
- 1907: Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia (1907). Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia, by Andrew J. Wedderburn (Alexandria, 1907). An illustrated guide to Alexandria buildings and neighborhoods. This book was created as a promotional piece with the support of Alexandria's then-new Chamber of Commerce, founded the same year, and attempted to tie into the statewide excitement surrounding the 300th anniversary of Jamestown. Today, it serves as a useful snapshot of the community, showing Alexandria as a busy city of small industries, shops, and regional commerce, even though its once famous port had long since declined.
- 1923: The Romance of Historic Alexandria. A Thrilling Narrative of Events founded on Facts and Fiction (1923): by Jackson Eugene Beauharnais. An early guidebook to Alexandria, available at the Alexandria Library, Local Special Collections.
Historic Homes and Landmarks. Illustrated booklet by Mary Lindsay
- 1949: 200 Years of Progress. A booklet created for Alexandria's Bicentennial in 1949.
- 1956: City of Alexandria Annual Report.
- 1960: City of Alexandria, Virginia. Hometown of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Illustrated report published by the City of Alexandria.
- 1963: City of Alexandria Master Plan. Prepared by Department of Planning and Urban Renewal.
- 1970: Know Your City. A Study of City Government. Prepared by the League of Women Voters.
Oral Histories and Other Reminiscences
- Oral Histories: Read transcriptions of more than eighty interviews conducted with long-time City residents by the Alexandria Legacies Project.
- A Nostalgic Account of Growing up in Old Town in the 1950's, by Stephen Williams, M.D. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Fall 2002.
- A Decade that Shaped My Life, by A. James Rudin, D.D., The Alexandria Chronicle, Fall 2015.
- The Five Payne Brothers: An Alexandria Family and Their Service, an online exhibit produced by The Lyceum, tells the story of the Payne Brothers, their life in Alexandria, and their service during World War II.
The African American Community
- McCargo Bah, Char, Christa Watters, Audrey P. Davis, Gwendolyn Brown-Henderson and James E. Henson, Sr. African Americans of Alexandria Virginia: Beacons of Light in the Twentieth Century . The History Press, 2013. (Book available for purchase from The Alexandria Shop)
- Style and Identity: Black Alexandria in the 1970s. Portraits by Horace Day. (Exhibit Catalogue)
Historic Preservation and Urban Renewal
- The Beginnings of Historic Preservation in Alexandria-Moving Toward the Creation of the Old and Historic District, by Peter H. Smith. Alexandria Chronicles, Alexandria Historical Society, Winter 1996.
- The George Washington Memorial Parkway --A Statement of Policy on Memorial Character by the Old and Historic Alexandria District Board of Architectural Review, by Peter H. Smith. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Summer 1999.
- Recollections of a Board of Architectural Review Member, by Thomas Hulfish III. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Summer 1998.
- Oral Histories of the Historic Preservation Movement: Hood Barringer , C. Richard Bierce , Robert Montague, III and Marian Van Landingham.
- The Parker-Gray District: Examining a Local Historic District a Generation Later, by Catherine K. Miliaras, Alexandria Chronicles, Alexandria Historical Society, Spring (1), 2015.
- A History of Lloyd House, Part II History of the Structure: 1833 - 1918. Lloyd House Enters the 20th Century: 1918 - 1956, by Timothy Dennée. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2004.
- The Torpedo Factory: The Torpedo Factory, built in 1918, was originally the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. Watch a 23-minute video, and read an Oral History from Marian Van Landingham , founder of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
- Beachcombers Restaurant. O Prince Street, by Diane Riker. This building was originally the Beachcombers Restaurant. Built on stilts over the water, it was once one of Alexandria's finest restaurants
- Fire Stations. Photos from the Charles Sampson Collection. Online Exhibit from the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections. The photos include many wonderful examples of past fire stations, engines, and firemen, from the 19th and 20th centuries.
- A Study in Decentralized Living: Parkfairfax, Alexandria, Virginia, by Laura L. Bobeczko. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring 1997.
- Potomac Yard: History and Archaeology of the former rail switching yard. Oral Histories of Potomac Yard employees, Heritage Trail signs, and archaeological reports.
- The History of Potomac Yard: A Transportation Corridor through Time. By Francine W. Bromberg, Alexandria Archaeology. North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan. See Appendix III, page 103.
- The Alexandria Union Station, by Al Cox, AIA. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Winter 1996.
- Flying the Capitol Way, Part I, by Kristin B. Lloyd. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Winter 1997
- Flying the Capital Way, Part II, by Kristin B. Lloyd. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring 1998.
- Before the Beltway; Streetcar Lines in Northern Virginia. Photographic exhibit from the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections. Streetcar lines were in operation from 1892 until the 1940s.
- 1907 - Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia (1907) : Souvenir Virginia Tercentennial 1607-1907 of Historic Alexandria, Virginia, by Andrew J. Wedderburn (Alexandria, 1907). An illustrated guide to Alexandria buildings and neighborhoods. This book was created as a promotional piece with the support of Alexandria's then-new Chamber of Commerce, founded the same year, and attempted to tie into the statewide excitement surrounding the 300th anniversary of Jamestown. Today, it serves as a useful snapshot of the community, showing Alexandria as a busy city of small industries, shops, and regional commerce, even though its once famous port had long since declined.
- 1949 - 200 Years of Progress: A booklet created for Alexandria's Bicentennial.
- 1949 - Remembering Alexandria's Bicentennial -- Philately, by Timothy J. Dennée. Historic Alexandria Quarterly, Spring 1999.