Jay Roberts and Paula Whitacre Honored by Historical Society
By Mary Wadland
ALEXANDRIA, VA- The Alexandria Historical Society chose Paula Whitacre and Jay Roberts as the 2019 recipients of the T. Michael Miller History Awardfor their noteworthy contributions to the preservation of the historic, cultural, and artistic heritage of Alexandria. In addition, Kathryn Cheney, Tallie Steiner, Sylvie Weiman, and Aidan White, outstanding history students from each of Alexandria’s four high schools, received an Alexandria High School History Award based on the recommendations of their teachers. Gretchen M. Bulova, Director of the Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA), spoke at the ceremony, highlighting her personal journey as a historian.
Paula Whitacre’s research into the life of Julia Wilbur, an abolitionist who came to Alexandria to provide aid to the freedmen during the Civil War, culminated in the publication of A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose by University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books in September 2017. The book not only documents the story of a remarkable woman challenging indifference and prejudice but also provides a riveting glimpse into what life was like in Alexandria during the Civil War. Whitacre’s coordinated effort to allow Julia Wilbur’s words from the past to speak for themselves resulted in the transcription and online publication of more than 1400 pages of Julia Wilbur’s diaries, providing a first-person narrative for future researchers and the general public.