From Blogs to Abolitionist: Two Alexandrians Honored by Historical Society

Julia Randle, left, presents Jay Roberts with his award.

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 Award for 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 book, A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose tells the life of Julie Wilbur, an abolitionist who came to Alexandria during the Civil War.

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.

Lost Alexandria: An Illustrated History of Sixteen Destroyed Homes In and Around Alexandria is one of two books authored by Jay Roberts.

Jay Roberts continually updates the public on local historical topics through his effective use of social media, bringing local history to life in his blog and providing daily musings into Alexandria’s history. Roberts’ passion and interest in local history have led to his publication of two books, Lost Alexandria: An Illustrated History of Sixteen Destroyed Homes In and Around Alexandria, Virginia and River to Rails: A Guidebook to Historical Markers in Old Town Alexandria.

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