Watch Lectures Online

A selection of Historic Alexandria’s public lectures are available online.

Page updated on Aug 16, 2021 at 9:28 AM

Watch Lectures Online

Learn more about Alexandria’s history through select recordings of Historic Alexandria’s public lecture series. These lectures were presented virtually, via zoom, and are listed here by date.


A Short History of Shuter's Hill

Originally presented June 23, 2021

Shuter's Hill overlooks Old Town Alexandria. It has hosted farms and Civil War encampments, and in the 20th century became the site of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial. Director of the Library and Museum Collections at the memorial, Mark Tabbert chronicles the history of the hill, and delves into the construction of the monument which spanned decades. This lecture was presented by the Alexandria Historical Society, in partnership with the Office of Historic Alexandria.  


Celebrate Juneteenth Along the Waterfront

Originally presented June 19, 2021

Get a behind-the-scenes look at a community history project featuring stories of African American people, places and neighborhoods from the time of Alexandria’s founding through the 20th century. The African American Heritage Trail Committee discuss the importance of Black history in Alexandria, what archaeology reveals about the past, and the potential benefits and impacts of community history initiatives.

Learn about the sites along the northern route of the  African American Heritage Trail and view the StoryMap.


Mapping the Gay Guides 

Understanding Queer Spaces in Pre- & Post-Stonewall America
Originally presented June 10, 2021

Dr. Eric Gonzaba discusses Mapping the Gay Guides, a digital project which aims to understand the often-ignored queer geographies through an interactive web application and digital public history project. Drawing on and making accessible the Damron Guides, an early but longstanding travel guide aimed at gay men since the early 1960s, this online mapping project explores different dimensions of American gay life through time, from bars and nightlife, bookstores, cinemas, and churches. Utilizing digitized data and visualizations from the site, Mapping the Gay Guides presents a historical analysis of the changing ways that gay spaces were defined. Eric Gonzaba is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at California State University, Fullerton where he teaches courses on the history of race and sexuality in America. He received his PhD in American history at George Mason University in 2019. His work has previously been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Point Foundation, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. He previously served on the board of the Rainbow History Project, the DMV’s premier LGBTQ historical association.


Forgotten: the Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War

Author lecture, originally presented June 4, 2021
Sponsored by the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee

As part of the City of Alexandria’s 11th annual D-Day commemoration, Linda Hervieux, Paris-based American journalist, photographer and author of FORGOTTEN: The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heroes, at Home and at War, shares the story of D-Day’s only African-American combat soldiers, who were effectively written out of the history of the Normandy invasion. Tom Brokaw called FORGOTTEN "utterly compelling," and Douglas Brinkley said "all Americans should read" this battalion's journey through segregated Jim Crow America to unexpected freedom in Britain and France. Hervieux has lectured extensively on the African Americans of D-Day and World War II at Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, the Imperial War Museum in London, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.


D-Day Commemoration Lecture

Originally presented June 3, 3021
Sponsored by the City of Alexandria and the Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee

Alexandria-Caen Sister City Committee's 11th annual D-Day commemoration presents former U.S. Army Historian Dr. Kim Bernard Holien discussing D-Day secrets, known and unknown in a 'Rest of the Story' presentation about the secrets that made the Allies victorious on the 'day of days.' Dr. Kim Bernard Holien was a professional historian with the U.S. Army for 34 years, receiving commendations from the late John Marsh, Secretary of the Army, and President Ronald Reagan. He is the recipient of the 2008 Joseph L. Harsh History Award from the Northern Virginia Association of Historians and the co-recipient of the 2016 T. Michael Miller Alexandria History Award from the Alexandria Historical Society.

18:51 - Dr. Holien's lecture begins
7:18 - This video also includes a 10 minute interview with Alexandrian and WWII vet, Robert Fischman, recounting his experience at Normandy on D-Day.


Equity in Preservation Panel Discussion 

Originally presented May 27 2021

The panel discussion features three professionals with deep expertise in this timely and important topic. John Sprinkle, Bureau Historian for the National Park Service, will open the session with a discussion on historic preservation and neighborhood conservation, specifically focusing on displacement, urban violence, and architectural survey in Alexandria. Purvi Irwin, Practice Manager for Architecture at CADD Microsystems, will then discuss new approaches to include diversity and inclusion in the preservation field while preserving our past for the future. Both Mr. Sprinkle and Ms. Irwin serve on the Alexandria Board of Architectural Review. Finally, Jaqueline Tucker, Race and Society Equity Office in the City Manager’s Office, will examine ways to operationalize diversity and equity in Alexandria.


A Jewish History of Old Town Alexandria

Originally presented May 26, 2021

From the first Jewish immigrants to Alexandria in the late 1850s to a thriving microcosm of Jewish life today, Jewish Alexandrians have helped shape and been shaped by their city. This talk will introduce audiences to several Jewish synagogues, merchants, Civil War soldiers, and mayors, uncovering history hidden in plain site along King Street and the surrounding area. This lecture was presented in partnership with the Office of Historic Alexandria and the Alexandria Historical SocietyTo learn more about the presenters, visit Capital Jewish Museum.


Hindsight is 2020: Misconceptions of the Revolution

Revolutionary War Symposium
Originally presented May 22, 2021

In preparation for the 250th anniversary of 1776, public historians share their research into this turbulent time during a one-day symposium in partnership with Emerging Revolutionary War. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum highlights the complexity of early America, but these challenges and uncertainties were rooted in what transpired before and during the Revolutionary War. 

The play list includes six videos, with five speakers and a panel discussion.



Also see the 2019 Revolutionary War Symposium:

Before they were Americans: A Prologue to the Revolutionary War 
Originally presented  September 28, 2019

This three-part symposium is available for viewing on C-Span.

Boston and the Road to Revolution, 1770-1775:  Historian, park ranger, and author  Phillip Greenwalt gave an illustrated talk on Boston’s role in the origins of the Revolutionary War. Mr. Greenwalt organized his talk around three pivotal events: the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and the Battles of Lexington and Concord. This talk is a part of a symposium co-hosted by the “ Emerging Revolutionary War” blog, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Lyceum of Alexandria, Virginia.

Revolutionary War Era Clothing and Tailors:  Scholar and curator  Katherine Egner Gruber used images to describe the significance of tailors in 18th century Alexandria, Virginia. Examining the account book of tailor William Carlin, who was active between 1763 and 1782, Gruber argued that men’s clothing was important in reflecting meaningful moments in citizen’s lives and helped prepare the community for revolution. The “ Emerging Revolutionary War” blog, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Lyceum of Alexandria, Virginia co-hosted this event. 

Origins of the American Revolution: This is the closing session from a symposium on the first annual  Emerging Revolutionary War symposium. A panel of historians summarized their thoughts from the day and discuss various aspects of the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. The “ Emerging Revolutionary War” blog, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Lyceum of Alexandria, Virginia co-hosted this event. 


The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America

Originally presented on May 11, 2021
Sponsored by the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project

Historian Joshua D Rothman presents his new book, The Ledger and the Chain. Rothman recounts the shocking story of the domestic slave trade by tracing the lives and careers of Isaac Franklin, John Armfield, and Rice Ballard, who built the largest and most powerful slave-trading operation in American history. Donations to the  Freedom House Museum, once headquarters of Franklin & Armfield, are welcome. 


Chocolate City

Originally presented on Thursday, May 6, 2021

Chocolate City tells the tumultuous, four-century story of race and democracy in our nation’s capital, of which Alexandria was once a part. Tracing D.C.’s massive transformations from a sparsely inhabited plantation society into a diverse metropolis, from a center of the slave trade to the nation’s first black-majority city, from “Chocolate City” to “Latte City” this account is peppered with unforgettable characters, a history of deep racial division but also one of hope, resilience, and interracial cooperation. George Derek Musgrove co-authored this book with Chris Myers Asch. Dr. Musgrove is an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Reparations at Virginia Theological Seminary

Originally presented on March 24, 2021
Sponsored by the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project

In September 2019, Virginia Theological Seminary announced the creation of a reparations endowment fund and the intent to research, uncover, and recognize African Americans who toiled under the oppression of VTS during slavery and throughout the Jim Crow era. Ebonee Davis, Associate for Multicultural Ministries Programming and Historical Research for Reparations with VTS, shares the research findings and implementation of VTS’ Reparations Program. Davis is a public historian with nearly 15 years experience working for local, state, and national institutions in the Americas and Africa. With VTS, she is coordinating the research efforts of the VTS’ Reparations Program and works directly with the program’s descendant families. This virtual event was sponsored by the Alexandria Historical Society, Alexandria Black History Museum, and the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project.


Hannah Griffith, 18th century entrepreneur

Originally presented on March 11, 2021

Hannah Griffith used her status, experience, and industriousness to make a new life for her and her eight young children in late 18th century Alexandria. Although her husband was a Church of England pastor, life changed dramatically in 1789 when she became widowed. Using her experience while serving as a "deputy husband" during the American Revolutionary War, she operated the prestigious Alexandria Coffee-House, which is one of the buildings that today is part of Gadsby's Tavern Museum. This lecture is presented by Kristy Huettner, museum educator for the Office of Historic Alexandria and graduate student in World History at George Mason University. 


You will Find it Handy: Traveling Safely in the Old Dominion with The Green Book

Originally presented on February 24, 2021

As automobile travel increased in the 20th century, refusal of service and other threats made travel extremely difficult for African Americans. In response, Victor H. Green began publishing The Green Book, which provided a safety net with its listings for services such as garages, barbers, beauty parlors, hotels and guest houses, tailors, restaurants, and drug stores that welcomed African Americans. Susan Hellman, Principal Planner with the City of Alexandria Planning & Zoning Historic Preservation division, will explore Virginia businesses listed in The Green Book during this lecture.

Start your own research into The Green Book:


Hidden in Plain Sight: Moss Kendrix and the Enterprise to Sell Black Citizenship.

Originally presented on February 17, 2021

Dr. Brenna Wynn Greer traces how Black public relations guru Moss Hyles Kendrix enlisted white corporate America in a campaign to redefine black citizenship after World War II. Dr. Greer also examines how Kendrix and his work—so visible and so important in the early Cold War era—was almost lost to us. Dr. Greer is Associate Professor of History at Wellesley College, and her first book Represented: The Black Imagemakers Who Reimagined African American Citizenship (University of Pennsylvania Press), is now available for purchase.


Life of a Klansman

Originally presented on January 28, 2020
Sponsored by the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project

Edward Ball, a descendant of a Klansman, tells the story of his ancestor. For whites, to have a Klansman in the family tree is no rare thing. Demographic estimates suggest that fifty percent of whites in the United States have at least one ancestor who belonged to the Ku Klux Klan at some point in its history. Ball’s great-great grandfather, Constant Lecorgne, had a career in white terror of notable and bloody completeness: massacres, night riding, masked marches, street rampages; all part of a tireless effort that he and other Klansmen made to restore white power when it was threatened by the emancipation of four million enslaved African Americans. To offer a non-white view of the Ku-klux, Ball includes the voices of descendants of African Americans who were once victimized by “our Klansman.” 

This author lecture was presented by the Office of Historic Alexandria as part of the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project, a city-wide initiative dedicated to helping Alexandria understand its history of racial terror hate crimes and to work toward creating a welcoming community bound by equity and inclusion.


A Conversation: Attorney Philip Hirschkop

Originally presented on December 9, 2020 
Sponsored by the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project

This conversation with Civil Rights Attorney Philip Hirschkop about the Loving Case and his groundbreaking legal career will inspire you. He is interviewed by Jean Kelleher, Director of the Office on Human Rights. Mr. Hirschkop also answers questions about his Supreme Court cases, his work on prison reform, and he remembers some of his past clients who have included Martin Luther King, Jr., H. Rap Brown, Norman Mailer and the America Nazi Party.

This conversation is sponsored by the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project. It’s the first of a series of conversations we will host periodically with social justice leaders. The Alexandria Community Remembrance Project (ACRP) is a city-wide initiative dedicated to helping Alexandria understand its history of racial terror hate crimes and to work toward creating a welcoming community bound by equity and inclusion.


Serendipity or destiny? Alexander von Humboldt’s visit to Washington 

By Dr. Sandra Rebok, a historian with over twenty years of experience in Humboldt scholarship, and the author of several books on Humboldt.
Sponsored by the Office of Historic Alexandria and the Alexandria Association
Originally presented on December 6, 2020

Dr. Rebok discusses Humboldt's early interest for the young nation, the historic background of his visit, the specific goals he pursued and the impact his introduction to the most prominent political and scientific circles in Philadelphia and Washington had on his work. (Read more about the lecture and Dr. Rebok).


The Alexandria Story of the Syphax Family: an African American Genealogy

By Steve Hammond, genealogist and family historian. Nancy Syphax, once enslaved by tavern keeper John Gadsby, is Mr. Hammond’s third great-grandmother.
Originally presented on November  19, 2020

Working to find the African American roots of the prominent Syphax family, Steve Hammond forged working relationships with scholars across the nation. Through his work, Mount Vernon, Carlyle House, Arlington House, and the White House Historical Association as well as Historic Alexandria’s own Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum have been able to tell a more complete story of Alexandria and the nation.


The Suburb and the Sword: Wartime Housing, Integration, and Suburbanization in Alexandria, VA

By Dr. Ryan Reft, a historian of the modern U.S. in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress.
Originally presented on October 28, 2020

Dr. Ryan talks about Chinquapin Village, Ramsey Homes, and Cameron Valley, all built during World War II to provided quarters for war workers, veterans, and service personnel and their families.


The Riches of this Land

By Jim Tanksersley
Originally presented on October 14, 2020


Alexandria author and journalist Jim Tankersley traces the origins and destiny of an American middle class that is under siege in his new book, The Riches of this Land, on a reporting journey from the rocket suburbs of Los Angeles to the tobacco fields of North Carolina.


The Election of 1800

By Dr. Peter Henriques
Originally presented  on October 8, 2020

Dr. Henriques delves into this pivotal election, the first modern political campaign in U.S. history, and its parallels to politics today.


Cartography of a Port City

By City Archaeologist Dr. Benjamin Skolnik
Originally presented on September 24, 2020

Dr. Skolnik presents the history of Alexandria through 15 seldom-seen maps. This lecture was presented in partnership with the Alexandria Historical Society

 


The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution

By Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky
Originally presented  on September 17, 2020

Dr. Chervinsky explores the creation of the Cabinet and its legacy.


The Battle of Guilford Courthouse: A Most Desperate Engagement

By local author Dr. John Maass
Originally presented on July 23, 2020

Dr. Maass recounts the bloody Battle of Guilford Courthouse and the grueling campaign in the South that led up to it, a crucial event on the road to American independence.

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