Resources for the Study of Alexandria History

Links to resources on the Historic Alexandria website and elsewhere on the internet.

Page updated on Jun 21, 2021 at 3:20 PM

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

Resources for the study of Alexandria's African American Community

  • General History
  • Early Free Black Neighborhoods
  • Churches
  • Slavery
  • 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

Archaeology and Alexandria's First People

Archaeologists recovered evidence of Native American toolmaking on the following Alexandria sites:

Early Alexandria: The Colonial and Federal Periods

Early Alexandria: The Colonial and Federal Periods 

Archaeological Site Reports
Selected listings from the Alexandria Archaeology Bibliography.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Alexandria Ceramics
These articles were written by retired Alexandria archaeologist Barbara H. Magid and published in Ceramics in America, a publication of the Chipstone Foundation.

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 

Waterfront History

  • 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

Resources for the study of 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

A Short History of Alexandria in the 20th Century and Beyond

Guidebooks, Reports and City Directories

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.

The African American Community

Historic Preservation and Urban Renewal




  • 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.