Presentation to the
Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia
at the Fort Myer Officers' Club in Arlington, VA
on October 8, 2018 

The images used during her presentation are available by clicking HERE or at

About the Topic:
During the Civil War, thousands of African Americans sought freedom in Union-occupied Alexandria. The Union Army was officially responsible for their well-being, but provided only the bare essentials, if that.

Two women—Harriet Jacobs and Julia Wilbur—forged a unique, interracial partnership to do more for freedpeople. In the 19th century when women were supposedly confined to the home “sphere,” they each came alone to a place where they knew no one, and figured out how to make a difference for other people—while also charting new paths for themselves.

Both left primary sources that help us understand their lives, as well as Alexandria during this time. In the space between the battlefield and the home front, their story tells of a critical, but not well-known side of the Civil War.

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About the Speaker:                

Paula Tarnapol Whitacre wrote a biography of Julia Wilbur’s life, A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time: Julia Wilbur’s Struggle for Purpose (Potomac Books, 2017) that a Kirkus reviewer called “an illuminating portrait of a remarkable abolitionist working behind Union lines.” 
Ms. Whitacre is a long-time freelance writer and editor for the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and many other organizations. Previously, she worked for The Washington Post and the U.S. Information Agency as a Foreign Service Officer.

Ms. Whitacre has lived in Alexandria since the mid-1980s and is active in many local history organizations. In addition to serving on the board of the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia, she is president of Friends of Alexandria Archaeology.
For information about the Round Table and to apply for membership, see the Tab above marked "About Us/ Membership Information" or click HERE