2011 – Barb Winters
Barb Winters is being honored for her book, Letters to Virginia: Correspondence from three generations of Alexandrians before, during and after the Civil War. For three years, Winters processed, read and organized a collection of over 800 family letters donated to the Alexandria Library Local History Special Collections in 2000. These letters, written by members of the Eaches, Fendall and Tackett families, spanned three generations, two major wars, and more than one hundred years. In Letters to Virginia, Winters doesn’t just reprint the letters but explains the context behind the lives of 15 people while drawing the reader into their interpersonal relationships from 1817 to 1940. Winters recognized the collection provided detailed insight into Alexandria’s history and compiled the letters into a compelling narrative that revealed Alexandria’s past by people who lived it.
Since the publication of Letters to Virginia last fall, Winters has eagerly shared the stories of the Eaches, Fendall and Tackett families by speaking with community groups and heritage organizations. Winters worked for ten years for the Alexandria Library, including nine years in the Local History Special Collections section of the Catherine Waller Barrett Branch from 2000-2009, before retiring in 2010. In addition to her work on the letters, she was involved, beginning in 2002, in the digitizing of over 2000 records which resulted from a special assessment of properties in the Old and Historic District of Alexandria, Virginia conducted in the late 1960′s. Before working at the library, Winters wrote articles for the Chicago Bulls and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
2010 – Thomas E. Crocker
Thomas E. Crocker, a longtime Alexandrian and Washington DC lawyer with an extensive background in international trade, was honored for his comprehensive, well researched, oftentimes humorous, and fast paced book entitled Braddock’s March: How the Man Sent to Seize a Continent Changed American History. His book retells the story of how Major General Edward Braddock convened a Congress of the Colonial Governors from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and Virginia at Carlyle House in Alexandria from where the grand military strategy was set as were the Crown’s demands for Colony financial support for its execution (which he failed to get). Events in Alexandria warranted only a footnote in Montcalm and Wolfe, written in 1884 by Francis Parkman and for many years considered the definitive history of the Braddock military expedition. More recently, Fred Anderson in his 2001 highly acclaimed Crucible of War, a book about the Seven Years War, mentions Alexandria just three times. Crocker devotes no less than 33 pages of his book to events that occurred in Alexandria relating to the Braddock expedition. The British Weekly Standard described Crocker’s book “… arguably (and surprisingly) the first truly comprehensive history devoted exclusively to the calamitous march that remade North America…without Braddock’s disaster, the French might have withdrawn to Canada to negotiate a peace. Absent years of the (ensuing) French and Indian War, events precipitating American independence likely would have been avoided. George Washington would have become a respected British Army officer and an eventual United States would have peaceably evolved into a Canada-style British Dominion.” Crocker reminds us once again of the great historical legacy of Alexandria and its great importance to our nation.
2009 – Mary V. Thompson
Ms. Thompson was honored for her 2008 book, “In the Hands of a Good Providence”: Religion in the Life of George Washington. George Washington’s religious practices and beliefs have been very controversial subjects in the past, and this book no doubt will become the definitive authority on those subjects. While the book is specifically about the life of George Washington, it provides a comprehensive insight into religious life in general in early Alexandria, with numerous Alexandria anecdotes.
Ms. Thompson has worked at Mount Vernon for over 28 years, serving for the past ten years as Mount Vernon’s Research Historian, where she is responsible for, among other things, research supporting all the programs in all the departments at Mount Vernon, editing internal and external publications; and helping to develop permanent and temporary exhibits and interpretive materials. Her primary focus is on everyday life on the estate, including domestic routines, food, religious practices, slavery, and the slave community. She has written and lectured extensively on subjects as varied as Martha Washington’s life during the American Revolution; work, family life, private enterprise, and resistance among the slaves at Mount Vernon; the diet of both enslaved and free at Mount Vernon; religious practices of the Washingtons and in the slave quarters; and the smallpox epidemic. She curated the travelling exhibition, Treasures from Mount Vernon: George Washington Revealed, which toured the U.S. between 1998 and 2000. Ms. Thompson has also frequently contributed articles to Alexandria history publications such as the Alexandria Chronicle and Historic Alexandria Quarterly and been a speaker at various Alexandria history events, including the 1999 symposium on George Washington and Alexandria, Virginia: ‘Ties that Bind’.
Ms. Thompson is well known for her willingness to share her vast knowledge of Alexandria’s most famous son, George Washington, with local Alexandria authors as well as nationally known ones. Significant books on the Washingtons written in the past decade by Joseph J. Ellis, Harlow Giles Unger, Patricia Brady, Peter Henriques, Henry Wiencek, and Cokie Roberts, among many others, contain thanks to Mary V. Thompson for her assistance.
Ms. Thompson has a B.A. in History, with a minor in Folklore, from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; and an M.A. in History from the University of Virginia.
2008 – William Seale, Ph.D.
The 2008 Alexandria Historical Society History Award was presented to Dr. William Seale for his history of The Alexandria Library Company. Founded in 1794 The Library Company served Alexandria until the public library opened in 1932. At that time the Company turned over its collection of over three thousand books to the new organization. Dr. Seale’s history is not only a chronicle of the Company itself but also a history of the citizens and of the city and their cultural, intellectual and literary interests over almost a century and a half. Dr. William Seale is one of the leading authorities on the preservation and restoration of historic buildings, specializing in state capitols and other public buildings. His definitive two-volume, The President’s House: A History is in the process of being revised and enlarged for a second edition due in 2008. The White House: The History of an American Idea is a richly illustrated reference study which brings together an architectural study of the White House and the story of the first families and designers who shaped it. Dr. Seale serves as editor of White House History, a journal published by the White House Historical Association. Other works on cultural and social history include A Guide to Historic Alexandria, Temples of Democracy and The Tasteful Interlude. William Seale’s work continues to be invaluable to museum curators and students of architecture and the decorative arts.
2007 – T. Michael Miller
In the 250 year history of Alexandria, nobody has written more about the history of Alexandria than T. Michael Miller. The catalog of the Alexandria Public Library lists 30 publications on Alexandria history by T. Michael Miller. These range from general works like A Seaport Saga: Portrait of Old Alexandria, Virginia (written with William Francis Smith); Pen Portraits of Alexandria, Virginia, 1739-1900; and his two-volume Artisans and Merchants of Alexandria, Virginia, 1780-1820 to major compilations of source material for researchers such as Burials in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Alexandria, Virginia, 1798-1983; Alexandria (Virginia) City Officialdom, 1749-1992; and If Elected: An Overview of How Alexandrians Voted in Presidential Elections from 1780-1984. In addition, as editor of the Fireside Sentinel from 1987 until 1994 and as editor of the Alexandria Chronicle from 1993 until 2005, he has written dozens of articles for these important Alexandria history journals. Also, he has frequently contributed articles on all aspects of Alexandria history to a wide variety of other publications such as the Alexandria Gazette Packet, Alexandria History, and newsletters like the Alexandria Archaeology Volunteer News. Equally as important, he encouraged and assisted others in researching and writing works on Alexandria history. This was especially notable with the many authors he helped while editor of the Fireside Sentinel and the Alexandria Chronicle. Many of the articles by others in these journals would never have been published without his active support. Indeed, virtually every book on Alexandria history written in the past decade contains on its acknowledgment page effusive thanks for T. Michael Miller. He has been particularly helpful in assisting other researchers in finding and making better use of the many Alexandria history primary sources at the local library and other locations. His book, Historic House Sleuthing in Alexandria, Virginia, has helped many Old Town homeowners trace the histories of their homes. Practically his entire adult life has been devoted to Alexandria history. He was curator of the Lee-Fendall House Museum from 1978 to 1980, research historian at the Alexandria Library, Lloyd House (now the Local History/Special Collections unit) from 1980 to 1995, and became Research Historian for the Office of Historic Alexandria in 1995, a position he continues to hold. He was President of the Alexandria Historical Society from 1994 to 1996, was Vice President for three years, and served on its Board for an additional twelve years. Sharing his vast knowledge, he has lectured extensively on Alexandria’s history to a multitude of groups throughout the area.
2006 – Jean Taylor Federico, Ph.D.
Jean Taylor Federico has been director of the Office of Historic Alexandria since 1983. During that time she has secured accreditation by the American Association of Museums of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum, and Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site. She was responsible for raising funds for the exhibition and catalog of Three Centuries of Alexandria Silver (exhibition at The Lyceum) and a catalog on the Green Furniture Company. She raised funds for the renovation of the Lloyd House garden and the exhibition Securing the Blessings of Liberty at the Alexandria Black History Museum. She promoted partnerships with Historic Alexandria Foundation and later with the Antiques in Alexandria Committee. Both organizations provide funding for the purchase of objects and for grants. She also secured National Register nominations for seven Alexandria African American Sites and the 2004 “Preserve America Community” status for the City of Alexandria. She has served the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission, and the city’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. Ms. Federico serves on Advisory Panels for the Potomac Heritage Partnership, the Alexandria Library Company, and the Institute for Museum & Library Services. She is a site visitor for the American Association of Museums Accreditation Committee and a MAP consultant. She is an active member of many prominent history and museum associations.
2005 – Major General George G. Kundahl, Retired
General George G. Kundahl holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Alabama. After thirty-four years of commissioned service in the United States Army, Kundahl is now a Major General, U.S. Army (Retired). He is currently serving as Chief of Staff for the Military Order of the World Wars. General Kundahl is being honored for writing Alexandria Goes to War: Beyond Robert E. Lee. He used local history source material to collectively weave a tapestry depicting a pre-Civil War Unionist Alexandria that is swept away along with the rest of Virginia into the Southern Confederacy. The variety of sources used – private journals, family letters, and articles – focuses on the stories of individual Alexandrians, providing personal voices to the stories. Much of the research for Alexandria Goes to War was done in the Barrett Branch Library’s Local History/Special Collections Section. General Kundahl is also the author of Confederate Engineer: Training and Campaigning with John Morris Wampler.
2004 – Alton S. Wallace, Ph.D.
Dr. Alton S. Wallace holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Engineering from the University of Maryland, and has spent his professional life working in the defense industry in the Washington, DC, metro area. Currently, Dr. Wallace serves as a deacon and as the historian at Alfred Street Baptist Church. In 1998, Dr. Wallace and his wife, Patricia, were appointed co-chairs of the church’s 2003 bicentennial celebration by the Rev. John O. Peterson, and were asked to write a book about the history of Alfred Street Baptist Church. Dr. Wallace recruited volunteers from the church to work on the Historical Research Committee and began the process of identifying sources, making trips to libraries, and conversing with other historians and knowledgeable people in the congregation and the community. Dr. Wallace worked tirelessly to write, edit and review I Once Was Young, a History of Alfred Street Baptist Church from 1803 through 2003. The publication will serve many generations, giving insight into the religious, social, and cultural life of African Americans in Alexandria and the humble beginnings of African American churches, especially Alfred Street Baptist Church.
2003 – Lillie M. Finklea
In 1997, after reading of the likely existence of hundreds of graves of former slaves at a South Washington Street gas station, 61-year resident of Alexandria Lillie M. Finklea founded, with Louise Massoud, the Friends of Freedmen’s Cemetery. The organization is dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of the burial ground. Lillie’s achievements with the Friends include the placement of the burial ground on the Virginia African American Heritage Trail and the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom; the erection of a state historic highway marker commemorating the site; and a Community Service Award from the Alexandria Branch of the NAACP. The 2003 History Award recognizes Lillie Finklea’s work with the Friends and her personal crusade to bring wide recognition of the significance of the Freedmen’s Cemetery and the freed African Americans interred there.
2002 – William Francis Smith
William Francis Smith is recognized for his years of volunteer activities for many different organizations, but especially for his diligence in seeking out and preserving images of the community. These photographs might otherwise have been lost, but now are saved for future generations. We also acknowledge Mr. Smith’s generosity in making these images available to a wide audience which has enhanced the city’s ability to tell the story of 19th century development in Alexandria. William Francis Smith has had a long interest in Virginia and Alexandria history as seen in old photographs such as those depicting Civil War scenes in Alexandria and identifiable landmarks or street scenes from Alexandria. Over the years, Mr. Smith shared his large collection with numerous historians and the public, first in the publication for the First & Citizens Bank, and then in A Seaport Saga: Portrait of Old Alexandria, Virginia, which he co-authored with T. Michael Miller. Many of his photographs are on loan to the Local History/Special Collections unit of the Barrett Library. They have been reproduced with permission in many museum exhibitions and publications.
2001 – Oscar P. Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Dr. Oscar P. Fitzgerald has contributed to the preservation and dissemination of the history of Alexandria and especially the environment of the city. He was the chairman and a founding member of the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, a member of the Archaeological Commission, and currently is Vice Chairman of the Board of Architectural Review for the Old and Historic District. Dr. Fitzgerald also serves as President of the Friends of Carlyle House and Chairman of the Alexandria Antiques Forum. His scholarship includes:
The exhibition catalog, The Green Family of Cabinetmakers: An Alexandria Institution, 1817-1887, for the 1986 exhibition of 19th century Green furniture at the Lyceum.
The exhibition catalog, In Search of Joseph Nourse, 1754-1841: America’s First Civil Servant, for an exhibition at Dumbarton House, National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
The book, Three Centuries of American Furniture, 1982.
The book, Four Centuries of American Furniture, 1995.
In addition to many lectures on historical and decorative arts subjects, Dr. Fitzgerald teaches in the Master’s Program in the History of American Decorative Arts in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He also serves on the faculty of Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia.
2000 – Wesley E. Pippenger
Wesley E. Pippenger has contributed to the dissemination of information on the history of the region, especially Alexandria and Washington, DC. A sampling of his work includes:
Alexandria Town Lots, 1749-1801, Together with the Proceedings of the Board of Trustees, 1749-1780 (with C. K. Ring)
John Alexander, a Northern Neck Proprietor: His Family, Friends and Kin
Legislative Petitions of the Town and County of Alexandria, Virginia, 1778-1861
Alexandria, Virginia, Wills, Administrations and Guardianships, 1786-1800
Alexandria, Virginia, Marriages, 1870-1892
Tombstone Inscriptions of Alexandria, Virginia (4 Volumes)
Husbands and Wives Associated with Early Alexandria, Virginia
“John Mercer and His Land Book,” Magazine of Virginia Genealogy
“Ministers and Clergy around Alexandria, Virginia (Before the 20th Century),” Northern Virginia Genealogy
“Perils of a Respectable Family,” The Fireside Sentinel
Alexandria, Virginia, Hustings Court Orders, Vol. 1 (March 1780 to July 1787)
Mr. Pippenger’s publications provide valuable research tools to genealogical and historical researchers in making a variety of Alexandria, Arlington, and District of Columbia records easily available.
1999 – Pamela J. Cressey, Ph.D.
As the City Archaeologist for Alexandria, Dr. Cressey works closely with the community. She inspires volunteers, students, and the general public to research, appreciate, and protect Alexandria’s historical heritage. Thanks to her leadership, the city’s archaeology program is internationally acclaimed. Dr. Cressey’s contributions go far beyond normal working hours. She takes an active role in stimulating interest in the rich social and cultural history of Alexandria. Dr. Cressey’s newspaper columns explore the meaning of the past, and her publications are a catalyst in preserving historic resources. She is a popular speaker for local organizations, a consultant for universities and government agencies, and a frequent television guest. She has been an adjunct professor at George Washington University since 1979, and has served as the President of the Society for Historical Archaeology. Dr. Cressey’s high standards, smile, and scholarship inspire Alexandrians in their appreciation of the city’s 250th anniversary.
1998 – Mona Leithiser Dearborn
Mona Leithiser Dearborn has made outstanding contributions to the preservation of Alexandria’s historical, cultural, and artistic heritage. She has devoted countless hours as a volunteer with Alexandria Archaeology, The Athenaeum, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, and has served on the Boards of the Alexandria Historical Society, The Lyceum Company, and Friends of Lloyd House. An art historian, Mrs. Dearborn’s professional experience includes having served as Keeper of the Catalog of American Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, from 1974 until her retirement in 1984. Her special interest in American portrait miniatures led to her participation in several conferences, including the 1990 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s seminar “Tokens of Affection, the Portrait Miniature in America” and The Lyceum’s 1994 symposium “Portraits on Demand, the Itinerant Artists in Early 19th-Century America.” She has published numerous monographs, including “Isaac Todd” in The Alexandria Chronicle, “Guy Atkinson and the Itinerant Artists of Fairfax Street, Alexandria” in the Journal of Southern Decorative Arts, and “Anson Dickinson, Painter of Miniatures” in the magazine Antiques.
1997 – Edith Moore Sprouse
Edith Sprouse’s valuable contributions to the study of early Alexandria and Fairfax County history have been a great benefit to historians, researchers, and institutions. She has served as project director, researcher, and consultant for major regional history projects like the Fairfax County, Virginia, Bicentennial Indexing Project. The production of indexes to archival materials, and abstracts of vital record, has benefited the many researchers and historians who have followed her. She has spoken on research methodology at professional conferences and has published five books and fifty-three articles on a variety of subjects ranging from the early history of towns such as Colchester, to sites like Mount Airy and historical figures such as clock maker and silversmith Benjamin Barton.
1995/1996 – Catherine B. Hollan
In recognition of Catherine B. Hollan’s outstanding contribution in curating the exhibit “Three Centuries of Alexandria Silver,” and for her authorship of the accompanying exhibit catalog.
The exhibit and the catalog together represent a ground-breaking accomplishment, bringing to light and documenting a rich and vital part of Alexandria’s cultural heritage – that of silversmithing. Her achievements have enriched our appreciation and understanding of this unique facet of Alexandria’s tradition, as well as its relationship to the wider community. We honor Miss Hollan for sharing with us her knowledge and talent, both for the exhibit itself and for the catalog that promises to be a basic reference tool for future research.
1994 – Ellen K. Donald & Anna M. Lynch
For their contributions in advancing the historic, artistic, and cultural history of Alexandria:
Ellen Donald’s expertise and careful scholarship in 18th and 19th century social history and material culture have helped to guide research and site interpretation regionally, and have made an impact on scholarly perceptions of Alexandria’s role in the colonial and federal periods. She has been a research associate and consultant at Gadsby’s Tavern as well as Carlyle House – contributing to the Historic Furnishing Plan and Interpretive Master Plan of both museums. Ms. Donald has also made significant contributions through her work at the Octagon House and Gunston Hall, and through her knowledgeable lectures and insightful writings in the field.
Anna Lynch’s valuable contributions to the study of Alexandria’s history – at Gadsby’s Tavern, the Black History Resource Center, and Alexandria Archaeology – include research to discover the identities of the earliest free Alexandria African Americans, filling an important gap in our knowledge of a vital part of Alexandria’s early history. Results of this work are being published through Alexandria Archaeology. The first, an alphabetized index of the earliest free African Americans known to have lived in the city is available now; the other two are forthcoming. Mrs. Lynch’s research has also been used in a current Archaeology Museum exhibit catalog – “To Witness the Past;” and to help create a living history “character” at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum.
1993 – James D. Munson, Ph.D.
Dr. Munson became deeply interested in Alexandria’s history and selected as his University of Maryland Ph.D. dissertation topic, “From Empire to Commonwealth: Alexandria, Virginia, 1749-1780.” His doctoral degree was issued in 1984. Since that time, Dr. Munson has been active in scholarly research, writing, lecturing, and promoting historical research about his chosen specialty. He wrote a history of the Carlyle House, Col. John Carlyle, Gent.: A True and Just Account of the Man and His House, published in 1986. He is currently preparing a definitive history of Alexandria from 1749 to 1801.