Historic Alexandria Collections Online

Portions of our vast database are now online! Selected collections from the Alexandria Black History Museum and Gadsby’s Tavern Museum join archival materials from the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Look for future online collections from all the Historic Alexandria museums.

Page updated on Nov 25, 2020 at 10:26 AM

Historic Alexandria Collections Online

Historic Alexandria Collections Online (image of PastPerfect page)Historic Alexandria has officially launched a new website to showcase a select portion of its vast collection online. From silver to samplers, photos to forks, over 30,000 items are held in OHA's museums. To offer a taste of this variety, tour the different collections available now. Can you find Carlton Funn’s posters on Crispus Attucks, John Gadsby’s wine cooler, and a student chorus photograph from Parker-Gray High School?

Historic Alexandria Collections Online makes collections more accessible to researchers and the general public and protects fragile objects and documents from excessive handling.

Most of our museums’ collections are catalogued in a specialized museum software program, PastPerfect. The archaeological collections are catalogued using other software, as are the Apothecary Museum’s archives. Making collections available online requires a good deal of preparation, including posting good quality images, rechecking catalogue records for consistency and accuracy, and writing descriptions that are useful for a general audience. We will continue to add specific collections or collections’ highlights as their catalogues become available.


Museum Collections

Learn more about the collections

Learn about donating objects to the museums

Historic Alexandria Collections Online The collections listed below can now be viewed online.


Carlton Funn Collection

Alexandria Black History Museum

Poster from the Carlton Funn Collection: Afro-American History (1969)In the late 1950s 7th Grade History teacher, Mr. Carlton Funn, Sr., began to collect posters, books, pamphlets, artifacts and more, to make his African American students “aware of their positive heritage,” stories lacking in the school’s history books. Over the next 50 years the collection grew in volume and scope to become the “National/International Cultural Exhibits (NICE),” an exhibition of almost 1,500 display boards “to promote awareness, human dignity and cultural understanding.” The boards feature a variety of mediums, including handwritten text and drawings, newspaper articles, photographs, and mounted poster series, including the history of Howard University Hospital, the Holocaust, immigration, woman’s rights, and the Niagara Movement. 

Disclaimer: Please note that the Carlton Funn Collection consists of educational materials created from the 1950s to the 2010s and some of the information and language used may be outdated or incorrect. Please be aware of this when choosing materials to use with students. Also note that some content, such as graphic images of the Holocaust, may be upsetting to viewers.


Parker-Gray School Collection

Alexandria Black History Museum

The old Parker-Gray SchoolThe Parker-Gray Archives seeks to preserve documents, photographs, yearbooks and other memorabilia relating to the Parker-Gray school. The segregated school graduated its first four-year high school class in 1936. Over time, the school gained a reputation for its dedicated teaching staff, who despite the constraints of segregation, were able to provide a positive learning experience. Parker-Gray High School moved to a new building at 1207 Madison Street in 1950, and the old school on Cameron Street became the Charles Houston Elementary School. The high school was phased out during the 1964-1965 school year, following integration of Alexandria’s schools. Parker-Gray was used as an integrated middle school from 1965 until 1979, when it closed its doors. The online collection currently includes a portion of the black-and-White photography collection, part of an ongoing digitization project.


Sherry Z. Sanabria Paintings

Alexandria Black History Museum

Sanabria, Sunnyside CabinThe Sanabria family generously donated 23 of Sherry Z. Sanabria’s African American historic site paintings to the Museum. Many of them are showcased in the Museum’s exhibition, “Before the Spirits are Swept Away and all the paintings can now be viewed on the Museum’s collection site. Through the paintings, the exhibition explores slavery, interpretation, and preservation of African American sites in the American South. 

Before she passed away in 2014, Sanabria had a studio at Alexandria's Torpedo Factory Arts Center. These paintings were part of her Sites of Conscience series, which focused on African American heritage, as well as prisons, concentration camps, and mental health hospitals. The paintings transport viewers to places of horror, places of pain and suffering, places we want to forget, but never should.

“I am drawn to the walls and spaces… [of buildings]… by the magic of light, the organization of architectural elements, and the perception that these spaces are filled with and colored by the spiritual remnants of the lives lived in them.”  – Sherry Z. Sanabria (1938-2014)


John Gadsby’s Silver

Gadsby’s Tavern Museum

John Gadsby's Silver CollectionEnglishman John Gadsby was a famed tavern keeper and hotelier in Alexandria, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. from 1796 to 1836. He retired to what is now known as the Decatur House, located near the White House. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum’s silver collection consists of cutlery, serving platters, chafing dishes, and wine chillers, which graced the tables of his various hotels and his private residence. Stamped “Gadsby,” these silver pieces conveyed John Gadsby’s refinement and hospitality to his friends and hotel guests.


The Apothecary Museum Archival Collection

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

LeadbeaterLetterheadThe online collection is comprised of letters, invoices, account books, and ledgers of the apothecary and pharmacy business owned by the Stabler and Leadbeater families. Check the types of scanned documents listed, and search the collection by placing a name, date, or document name in the search box. This collection is presented in a separate application, the City of Alexandria Document Management Portal.

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