Alexandria Library is pleased to announce the release of Alexandria, co-authored by its very own Special Collections staff members, Manager George Combs, and Librarians Leslie Anderson and Julie Downie.
Revealing over 200 historic images that tell half the story about the Southern city that originated in 1749, the book transports us further back in time to the city’s indigenous roots and then moves forward, highlighting the burgeoning industries that helped an economically-strapped Alexandria thrive. Captions narrate the remaining half, threading together major cultural and societal transitions, from the Civil War to the Reconstruction Era to World War II and pivotal events of the 20th Century. Vintage photos of horse and carriages, tethered clothing and the faces of hardship and labor are just some of the details that cannot come from a local tour.
"We incorporated themes that tried to stress Alexandria's growth in inclusivity," said Combs, who noted that the book's cover image of blacks and whites together was captured at a parade right after the Civil War. "It was the perfect image," he said. "We were a segregated city, but coming into the 20th century that began to change. Things have improved but there's still a long way to go."
Using thirty years of combined research, Combs, Anderson and Downie offer a backdrop to one of the country’s largest historic districts, giving us more insight the next time we stumble upon antique architecture or on an Old Town brick sidewalk.
Books can be purchased through the Special Collections Branch. All proceeds will go to the branch.