What’s New in Historic Alexandria
The City of Alexandria honors the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with its annual Poster Exhibition and Program. Posters from Alexandria City Public School students in the Vola Lawson Lobby of City Hall are now on view through February 29, 2016. The 2016 exhibition displays students’ illustrations of their own family’s struggles and journeys to reach Alexandria, perhaps from another country or situation. With the theme: “Journeys: Your Road to Alexandria,” students answered the question, “How did you come to Alexandria?” Were your ancestors settlers, brought here as slaves, immigrants looking for opportunity or freedom? The story of our city begins with journeys from all over the world. The struggle for freedom and equality begins with sharing our experiences and stories with each other. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life-long work for civil rights in America was a journey to freedom for justice and respect.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Poster Exhibition started as a contest in 1990. It was created by the Alexandria Society for the Preservation of Black Heritage, Inc. (ASPBH), which highlighted the art work of Alexandria City Public School students. The ASPBH is the friends group for the Alexandria Black History Museum (formally known as the Alexandria Black History Resource Center). Under the leadership of two memorable society presidents, Harry Burke and Carlton A. Funn Sr., the contest grew from a small exhibit and program held at the Alexandria Black History Museum, to a larger exhibition held in the Vola Lawson Lobby of City Hall in January and February of each year. In addition to the exhibition, a formal program is held in City Hall honoring the legacy of Dr. King. In 2013, the contest became a Memorial Exhibition honoring the late ASPBH President Carlton A. Funn, Sr. In 2014, the exhibition and program returned to City Hall.
This Week in Historic Alexandria
On February 2, 1848, Nicholas Philip Trist of Alexandria negotiated the controversial “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” in Mexico, ending the Mexican-American War. Despite a questionable past, the influential lawyer was appointed as the official representative of President James Polk in the negotiations with Mexico, with specific instructions to seek acquisition of the Baja California peninsula for the United States under the terms of the settlement. A pro-slavery advocate, Trist was no stranger to controversy for his previous corruption activities associated with the production of false documents to facilitate illegal slave trading. After arriving in Mexico, his conduct did not meet Polk’s expectations and he was soon recalled to Washington. But Trist disregarded Polk’s instructions to return and continued to negotiate, signing an agreement that drew a westward line from Yuma, Arizona to an area between San Diego and Tijuana, without the coveted peninsula. Polk was furious with his representative, but the long distance between Mexico and Washington prevented new negotiations within an acceptable timeframe and he was forced to accept the result. But Trist was immediately fired for insubordination upon his return to America, and his personal expenses remained unpaid for decades. In later life he became Postmaster of Alexandria, and he died in the city in 1874.
|Thursday, February 4 – Birthnight Ball Dance Class
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 North Royal Street
In preparation for the Birthnight Ball on February 13, learn 18th-century English country dancing from expert dance instructors Tickets are priced per person at $12 per class or $30 for the series (January 28, February 4, 11). Reservations are recommended.7:30 to 9:30. Please call 703.746.4242 for more information.Wednesday, February 3 – Lecture: Medical Care during the Civil War
The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum, 201 South Washington Street
To appreciate the historical background of the new PBS drama series, “Mercy Street,” learn about medical practices of the Civil War era and military hospitals in urban settings like wartime Alexandria by attending a lecture entitled “We are not Butchers: Military Surgeons of the Civil War.” A snow date is scheduled for February 24.
This illustrated lecture will be made by Civil War medical historian and interpreter, Von Barron. Mr. Barron will discuss general medical knowledge and care of the period, and military hospital facilities of the time, both in the field and towns like Alexandria. In addition to serving as a vital transportation and supply base for the Federal war effort, Alexandria became a major hospital center for the Union Army, a theme that is the backdrop for the “Mercy Street” series.
The lecture is co-sponsored by The Lyceum and Fort Ward Museum in the City of Alexandria. Both museums also have exhibits on view beginning which interpret medical care in Civil War Alexandria (see entries below.) Tickets are priced at $5 per person. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For further information, please call 703.746.4994.
Thursday, February 4 – Lecture: Heroines of Mercy Street Lecture
“Heroines of Mercy Street” is a companion history to the new PBS drama “Mercy Street,” which now airs at 10 p.m. each Sunday night. The book will not be available to the public until February 16, 2016, but The Lyceum and other Historic Alexandria museum stores will have it on the shelves after that date. While you’re here, you can also view the new exhibition “The Real Mercy Street: Alexandria’s Nurses & Hospitals during the Civil War” on view by The Lyceum Museum Store, and find many other books related to the war and nurses of the period.
Pamela D. Toler is the author of The Everything Guide to Socialism, Mankind: The Story of All of Us and most recently, Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War. Toler grewup in Springfield, Missouri, where she participated in living history programs at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, learned to shoot a muzzle-loading rifle, and read and re-read the biographies of women like Clara Barton, Julia Ward Howe, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her life as a history buff took an abrupt turn when she fell in love with Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. It was the first step on the path to a Ph.D. in South Asia history and a lifelong fascination with the times and places where two cultures meet and change each other.
These days she focuses on historical figures that step outside the constraints of their time. With Heroines of Mercy Street, Toler has returned to her first historical love: the Civil War in general and its impact on women in particular.
Tickets are priced at $10 per person. 7 to 9 p.m. For further information, please call 703.746.4994.
Thursday, February 4 – Birthnight Ball Dance Class
Friday, February 5 – Opening Reception: Wings from Chains
Saturday, February 6 – RESCHEDULED EVENT: Preparing for a Ball
Saturday, February 6 – Civil War Walking Tour: “Beyond the Battlefield”
Saturday, February 6 – Lecture: Harriet Jacobs and Julia Wilbur
Saturday, February 6 – Happy Birthday John Carlyle!
Sunday, February 7 – Winter Warmer Ladies Tea
Monday, February 8 –Lecture: Women of Alexandria, from Antebellum to the 20th Century
Now on Exhibit – Wings from Chains
Now on Exhibit – Journey to Be Free: Alexandria Freedmen’s Cemetery
Now on Exhibit – Their Fates Intertwined: The Lees of Alexandria in the War of 1812
Now on Exhibit – Fifty Years of Collecting: An Anniversary Exhibit of Objects from the Fort Ward Collection
Fort Ward is the best preserved of the extensive network of Union forts and batteries known as the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Free! Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 703.746.4848 or visit www.fortward.org.
On Sale Now
On Saturday, February 13 at 11 a.m., children attending a program at the Alexandria Black History Museum can tell a legend of love in your family by making a valentine for their loved one! Children and their adult family members are invited to reserve a place for this popular program led by artist, writer and educator “Sush” Mazumdar. Family Legends is an initiative of Living Legends of Alexandria, a photo documentary project celebrating Alexandria’s recent history makers. The fee for this workshop is $5 per person to cover the cost of materials. Please call 703.746.4356 for information and to reserve your spot.
Also, the Lee-Fendall House will be offering a special “Sweetheart Tea” at 1 p.m. on Valentine’s Day! Enjoy Valentine’s Day themed treats and parlor games with your special sweetheart! Space is strictly limited to 24 attendees; advance reservations are required. Tickets are priced at $40 per person, $30 for LFH members, and are available through the museum’s Online Store.
Explore the Sites and Stories that Inspired PBS’ new drama Mercy Street, inspired by real events in Civil War Alexandria, Virginia! Explore the real historic sites and stories in Alexandria, with more than two dozen new tours, exhibits and events featured here.
Be one of the first to own the Mercy Street companion book and DVD now available at OHA museum shops.
City Museums and Historic Sites
- Office of Historic Alexandria
- Alexandria Archaeology Museum
- Alexandria Black History Museum
- Archives and Records Center
- Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site
- Friendship Firehouse
- Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
- The Lyceum, Alexandria’s History Museum
- Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum
Other Historic Sites and Resources
- Alexandria Library Special Collections
- Alexandria Historical Society
- Christ Church
- Carlyle House Historic Park
- Freedom House Museum
- Historic Alexandria Foundation
- Lee-Fendall House
- Old Presbyterian Meeting House