In October 1862, an abolitionist named Julia Wilbur traveled alone south from Rochester, NY, to Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia. She spent most of the next 3 years in Alexandria, working to assist formerly enslaved people (known as Contrabands at the time), distributing food, clothing and supplies, organizing schools and setting up orphanages. Wilbur experienced life in a city rocked by political and social upheavals of the war and her diaries include marvelous detail about the city during that period.
How did a single woman manage to travel here in that time? What did she experience once she arrived? And how do we know?
Paula Whitacre, a freelance writer and editor in Alexandria, tells the story of Julia Wilbur through Wilbur’s diaries, letters, and photos. Whitacre has been working with the diaries of Julia Wilbur since 2010. Her research has led her to Haverford College, where Wilbur’s papers reside; to the National Archives for records related to Wilbur’s time in Alexandria; and to a correspondence with one of Wilbur’s descendants. She has B.A. and M.A. degrees in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University and is a former Foreign Service Officer and journalist. She serves on the board of Friends of Alexandria Archaeology, among other volunteer positions
Lecture: Through the Eyes (and Pen) of Julia Wilbur
Tuesday, Oct. 7 from 6 – 8 PM
Morrison House, 116 South Alfred Street