Alexandria History: Index

These Historic Alexandria web pages include synopses of historical topics and links to related sources.

Page updated on Jun 5, 2017 at 3:11 PM

Topics in Alexandria History

Learn about aspects of Alexandria's history by time period or topic.

Time Periods

Other Topics

General Alexandria History

These Historic Alexandria web pages and outside sources provide more in-depth information about aspects of Alexandria history. See below for a brief description and a link to each of these resources.

General History

  • A Brief History of Alexandria: An overview of Alexandria’s history, from prehistoric times, through early European settlement, the town’s development as a major port, the Civil War, the Industrial era, and its efforts in Historic Preservation.
  • African American Historic SitesA Remarkable and Courageous Journey: A Guide to Alexandria’s African American History. Produced by the Alexandria Convention and Visitor’s Association with assistance from the Alexandria Archaeology Museum and the Alexandria Black History Museum.
  • The Historic Alexandria Waterfront: Research about historic buildings, places and preservation planning tools. These studies are not intended as the definitive history of the waterfront but are part of an ongoing program by Historic Alexandria and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to study the complexities of Alexandria’s maritime heritage and to preserve historic resources.


  • Alexandria Archaeology Bibliography: A complete bibliography of publications and site reports. Site reports and public summaries are being posted online as time permits, and all reports can be found at the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections, or by appointment at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.

Journals and Newsletters

  • The Alexandria Chronicle: The Alexandria Chronicle has been published by the Alexandria Historical Society since 1993. Issues from 2006 to present are available on the Society’s website. Paper copies of earlier issues of the Chronicle, and of the Alexandria History magazine (1978-2002), can be found at the Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections.
  • “Alexandria Artifact Stories” from the Alexandria Gazette Packet :  “Alexandria Artifact Stories” were published as a regular feature in the weekly newspaper from 1994 until 1997. The goal of the series was to take a small piece of a cultural heritage and examine it in a wider context to understand and appreciate its significance.
  • Discovering the Decades: Discovering the Decades places Alexandria’s history in the context of U.S. history. Originally published in the Alexandria Archaeology Volunteer News, 1999.
  • Historic Alexandria Quarterly: Historic Alexandria Quarterly is a scholarly publication produced by the Office of Historic Alexandria from 1996 to 2004.  
  • Out of the Attic: This column continues to be published weekly in The Alexandria Times.


  • C-Span City Tours: The series American History TV of seven videos on Alexandria history originally aired March 16-18, 2013, exploring Alexandria's Archaeology Museum, the Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery, Lee-Fendall House, and the Civil War. 

First Person Accounts

  • Antebellum Reminiscences of Alexandria, Virginia. Extracted from the Memoirs of Mary Louisa Slacum Benham: Mary Louisa Slacum Benham’s reminiscences describe her life in Alexandria in the first half of the 19th Century. Transcribed and extracted from her memoirs, thought to be written in the 1880s. A variety of topics are discussed: the Potomac River; rural scenes; Christ Church; dancing school; the Alexandria Theater; childhood experiences including food, furnishings and African Americans; and Mount Vernon.
  • Travelers Accounts of the Historic Alexandria Waterfront: Travelers Accounts, written between 1624 and 1900, have been compiled by Alexandria Archaeology as part of a study of the Alexandria Waterfront. The writings are organized by decade. 
  • Alexandria During the Civil War: First Person Accounts: These The following accounts include dramatic excerpts from the diaries of relief worker Julia Wilbur and of a secessionist housewife who fled Alexandria as Union troops arrived; a letter from a head nurse at one of the many hospitals; the writings of an English journalist and an American war correspondent; and selections from  The Local News, Alexandria’s wartime newspaper. Additional accounts are provided from patients and staff at Alexandria's Union Hospitals.

Early Histories of Alexandria

  • A Concise History of the City of Alexandria (1883)A Concise History of the City of Alexandria, Va: from 1669 to 1883, with a Directory of Reliable Business Houses in the City, by Brockett, F. L. and G. W. Rock. (Alexandria, 1883). An early history of Alexandria, available from Google Books.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 200 Years of Progress: A booklet created for Alexandria's Bicentennial in 1949.

City Directories

Alexandria Historic Sites 

Learn about historic places in the City of Alexandria. Over 40 sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including five historic districts and nine African American sites. See below for a brief description and links to information about each of these sites.