Women's History in Alexandria
Women's History in Alexandria
Throughout the centuries, women have made significant contributions to Alexandria. While these stories are important throughout the year, the City has officially observed Women’s History Month in March since 1998.
The observance had its origins as a national celebration in 1981, when Congress authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982, as “Women’s History Week.” After being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.”
Celebrate in 2023
Out of the Attic
In honor of Women’s History Month, we invite you to read our series on women’s history in Alexandria throughout the month of March. The Out of the Attic column appears each Thursday in the Alexandria Times.
- Nursing education at Alexandria Hospital , March 3, 2023
- Lillie Finklea: modern Alexandria preservationist , March 9, 2023
- Alexandria and the Silent Sentinels , March 16, 2023
- "A League of Their Own’ in Alexandria , March 23, 2023
- Vola Lawson: Alexandria's modern City manager , March 30, 2023
Honoring the Suffragists
Alexandria honors Suffragists with flags and illumination in the colors of their banner, to recognize the women who bravely endured imprisonment and brutality in their efforts to gain the vote for all American women. In 2021, Alexandria honored the Suffragists tortured at the Occoquan Workhouse with a historic marker at the site of the courthouse on St. Asaph and Prince streets where their landmark case was decided. See more below.
Alexandria Honors Suffragists Tortured at Occoquan Workhouse
In 2021, Alexandria honored Suffragists tortured at the Occoquan Workhouse with a historic marker at the site of the courthouse on St. Asaph and Prince streets where their landmark case was decided.
The Office of Historic Alexandria and Alexandria Celebrates Women dedicated the historic marker on August 26, to recognize the women who bravely endured imprisonment and brutality in their efforts to gain the vote for all American women.
The tabletop marker -- designated as part of the Alexandria Heritage Trail -- was installed at the site which housed the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in the early 20th century. The third-floor courtroom was located in the old Customs House, which stood on the corner of South Saint Asaph and Prince Streets. The formal dedication included a reception and the inaugural guided tour of the new Alexandria Women’s History Walk.
In the News
- Alexandria Celebrates Women: Suffragists struggle against brutality in fight for voting rights. Upcoming local event aims to honor tortured American suffragists. By Gayle Converse and Pat Miller, Alexandria Times, August 19, 2021.
- New marker dedicated to Suffragists. Out of the Attic, Alexandria Times, August 26, 2021.
- Signage Dedicated to Suffragists. By Jeanne Theismann, Alexandria Gazette Packet, September 2, 2021.
Proclamation and Letters of Support
- Proclamation for Women's Equality Day, August 26, 2021
- Letter from Senator Mark Warner, August 26, 2021
- Letter from Congressman Donald S. Beyer, August 26, 2021
Watch the Dedication Ceremony
- 0:00 Intro from Gretchen Bulova, Director of Office of Historic Alexandria
- 1:06 Brief summary of History commemorated by the marker
- 2:07 History commemorated by the marker, presented by Laura McKie
- 10:58 Description of the event by Mrs. Robert Walker, as portrayed by Lynne Garvey-Hodge
- 20:18 Gretchen Bulova
- 20:55 Remarks by Anh Phan “AP”, representing Sen. Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer
- 23:15 Remarks by Mayor Justin Wilson
- 29:38 Marker unveiling
The Marker Text
Suffragists and a Courtroom Decision in Alexandria
Suffragist Prisoners at Occoquan: In November 1917, 32 suffragists were arrested in Washington, D.C. for allegedly “blocking traffic” on a Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk. They were sent to the District of Columbia workhouse at nearby Occoquan, Virginia. The women were subjected to undue hardships and torture, resulting in the infamous November 14, 1917 “Night of Terror.” A number of women prisoners were threatened, beaten and hurled against walls and floors. A few days later, force feedings began. The suffragist prisoners were eventually freed from Occoquan following a hearing in Alexandria’s federal courthouse.