Office of Historic Alexandria Seeks Public Assistance with Fort Ward Park Research Project
Photographs Documenting Gravestones at Fort Ward Park Before 1980 Sought
The Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA), the comprehensive public history agency of the City of Alexandria, is seeking the cooperation of residents in the local region with an ongoing historical research project at Fort Ward Park, located at 4301 West Braddock Road in Alexandria. Specifically, OHA seeks to identify images that may exist in private hands that provide photographic evidence of once-standing gravestones in the city parkland. Archaeological investigations have recently confirmed locations of at least 40 unmarked graves. These gravesites post-date the Civil War fortification for which the park is named, and are associated with a significant African American community known as “The Fort” that developed at the site after the Civil War period and remained until the park was created in the 1960s. Three additional graves, still marked by gravestones, also remain within the park boundaries.
Over the years, several personal memories of extant gravestones, either neglected, discarded in pieces, or marking burial sites in the park have been recorded, but to date researchers have had little success in identifying physical evidence to confirm if or from where such stones may have been removed. Other oral histories and interpretations of documents note that a number of graves were relocated when the park was built; however, recent archaeological work indicates that the burials in question remain intact at Fort Ward, but have been unmarked for many years. OHA is appealing to the public for personal photos showing gravestones in the park that may have been taken within the current park boundaries at any time during the late 19th or 20th centuries, even those that may have been captured in the background of family pictures or recreational activities. A record of such visual evidence would be invaluable to assist in the research of park resources, guide future archaeological investigations, and protect and restore the appropriate dignity and respect for those buried on the property.
For more information on “The Fort” community, please visit www.historicalexandria.org. Those who suspect they may have such photographic evidence of gravestones in Fort Ward Park may email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703.746.4399 for more information.