Full Circle Communications

August 2014
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ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, 
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance. 
Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

Recipient of Constant Contact All Star Awards, 2011 through 2013!

Julia Wilbur: Of Death & Diaries  
This newsletter focuses on business topics, but I digress occasionally to talk about Julia Wilbur, an abolitionist in Alexandria during the Civil War. For the past several years, I have worked with Wilbur's diaries and other sources as a to learn about her as an individual and about Civil War-era society. (See below for an October 7 presentation.)

Freedmen's Cemetery

Not surprisingly, death was a frequent topic in Wilbur's diaries--deaths of soldiers, friends and family, and African Americans who came to Alexandria to escape slavery.

When the freedmen, then known as contrabands, died, they were buried in an existing potter's field. To cope with the numbers, a new cemetery opened in 1864.

In 1987, a historian found the record of the 1,800 men, women, and children buried there. Archeologists uncovered the cemetery, forgotten under a gas station. A genealogist traced many of the interred to descendents living today.  

CemeteryEntry As you go down Washington Street at the southern end of Alexandria, you now see the cemetery on your right. While individual graves cannot be identified, people's names are inscribed inbronze, along with other tributes (seen through the gateway in this photo). Some of the gravesites of adults and children are also marked out in stone.   


Wilbur wrote in January 1864,

The Potters field is the most heathenish looking place I ever saw. These were first put in holes rather than graves and barely covered. The poor slave. Virginia does not afford earth enough hardly to cover his remains!!
On April 12, 1864, she observed the new cemetery was at least an improvement:

Went in Ambulance to the new Contraband burying ground. 65 graves there already. As good a place as they could get.

The cemetery, again hallowed ground, will be re-dedicated on September 6 at 10 a.m. The public is welcome.


Wilbur kept two sets of diaries. I have transcribed, annotated, and written an introduction to her "pocket journals," which all look like this one from 1863:

Wilbur also created another set of diaries from packets of paper. A group of volunteers, assembled through the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, transcribed and proofread these pages.I am now assembling their work into one document. The originals are at Haverford College, which scanned entries from 1860 to 1867 for us to work with.

LearnLearn More

I will be giving a talk, "Through the Eyes (and Pen) of Julia Wilbur," on Tuesday, October 7, 6 to 8 pm, at the Morrison House in Old Town. You can order a glass of wine and travel back 150 years while sitting in the hotel's comfortable salon.

I am always looking for other groups to present to, whether in the DC area, upstate New York (where she came from), or anyplace else.  
If you would like to know more about the Morrison House event or you have a group that would like to hear about this story, please email me.

Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0350