Alexandria History

Alexandria, founded in 1749, has a fascinating history, and many of its historic buildings are still preserved today.

Page updated on Jul 4, 2018 at 2:09 PM

A Brief History

Bird's Eye ViewDuring its long history, Alexandria was a tobacco trading post, one of the ten busiest ports in America, a part of the District of Columbia, home to both the largest slave-trading firm in the country and a large free-black community, a Civil War supply center for Union troops, and a street-car suburb for Federal workers. Alexandria was also the hometown of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass. Learn more about Alexandria history from A Brief History of Alexandria or from the more in-depth topics listed in the Index.

Index of Historic Resources

The Historic Alexandria Index links to historical information on the Historic Alexandria website and elsewhere on the internet.

  • Time Periods: Time periods include prehistory, early Alexandria and the 20th century, as well as the War of 1812 and the Civil War. 
  • Topics in Alexandria History: Topics include maps, African American history, the Waterfront, cemeteries, and earthquakes.
  • First Person Accounts: Read first-hand accounts written by Alexandrians and by visitors to the town, and read transcriptions of oral histories.
  • Historic Sites: Many of Alexandria's most significant sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also learn about Alexandria's Historic Districts, Civil War sites, and a few additional significant sites. See our selection of self-guided tour of Alexandria's historic sites.
  • Journals and Newsletters: Read articles from the Alexandria Chronicle and the Historic Alexandria Quarterly, and from The Alexandria Times' Out of the Attic column.

Conducting Research in Historic Alexandria

Historic Alexandria provides a list of Resources for Conducting Research on your property, genealogy, or local history. The  Alexandria Library, Local History division is the best place to start your research. For certain records, the knowledgeable research librarians may refer you to the Archives and Records Center, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, or to one of the Historic Alexandria Museums.

Commemorations

Alexandria commemorates important anniversaries in the history of our country and our city:

This Day in History

Click here to see what happened on this day in history. These daily events in Alexandria's history were first printed in This Week in Historic Alexandria.

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