Burke Historical Society Speakers Bureau

Members of the BHS are available as guest speakers, free of charge!  Talks run about 30 to 45 minutes long and generally include a PowerPoint presentation.  We can provide a projector, if needed, but would ask the host to provide a screen or a suitable expanse of pale wall.

To request a speaker, please use our Contact page.  Because talks are subject to the speaker’s availability, you may wish to request at least two talks by different speakers as alternate options.

Speaker: Jon Vrana

Early Days of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad
Explains the planning and construction of the O&A, including Silas Burke’s role in the company’s leadership and in routing the railroad through present-day Burke.

The Christmas 1862 Raid on Burke’s Station
Reconstructs the December 28, 1862 raid by Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart on Burke’s Station, including the burning of the Accotink Creek railroad trestle.

The History of Early Agriculture in Northern Virginia
Describes how principle crops, farm management, and farming populations changed over time.

The Long Road Home
Presents a 1st-person drama of a soldier from Fairfax County, returning home at the end of the Civil War.  He is filled with excitement, yet also anxiety as to what he’ll find at home and what his future will be.

The Old Capitol Prison
Tells the story of the Civil-War Union prison in Washington, D.C., and some of its notable inmates.

Speaker: Cindy Bennett

Burke’s Coldest Case: The Murder of Eva Roy
Describes the 1918 murder of 14-year-old Eva Roy in Burke and the convoluted investigation and trials that followed, based on contemporary newspaper accounts.

Speaker: Brian Slawski

Intellectual Property of Burke (includes three separate talks)
Briefly introduces the laws and history underpinning modern patents, trademarks, and copyrights (in separate talks), interspersed with interesting examples registered by residents of Burke.

Jazz in Northern Virginia (and Washington)
Provides a survey of jazz musicians and promoters with ties to Northern Virginia and Washington, as well as local jazz venues, instruction, festivals, and radio up to the present day.  This can be split into as many as three talks, depending on programming needs and the amount of detail desired.

Burke: Summer of 1916
Gives an impression of daily life in Burke some one hundred years ago, with an overview of various aspects of the community as well as some selected events reported in the Fairfax Herald.

The Carrington Event, Locally and Globally
Tells of the massive solar storm of 1859, its local and worldwide effects, and its implications for the present day.

Speaker: Patrick O’Neill

History of Belvoir Manor
Recounts the story of the Fairfax family’s mansion on the Potomac River, its destruction during the War of1812, and the eventual development of the land as Fort Belvoir.

Speaker: Mary Lipsey

First Ladies
Examines some of the most notable women to have held this prominent but little defined position, emphasizing Mmes. Washington, Hayes, and Cleveland, and the second Mrs. Wilson.

Firsts for Women
Describes female trailblazers in various high-profile occupations—banking, law, etc.

Escaping Detection
Looks at women who participated actively but secretly in the Civil War, as spies and as soldiers.

Rescue of Mount Vernon
Recounts the story of the Washington family estate, its descent into disrepair, and the formation and struggle of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to save it.

Cemetery Preservation
Describes the founding and efforts of the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association (www.honorfairfaxcemeteries.org), a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving cemeteries in our county of which many have been abandoned.

Leading Ladies of the Civil War  (Includes four talks, but each can be done separately.)

1. Mrs. Lincoln
Illuminates the life of Mary Todd Lincoln, a tragic and controversial figure.

2. Mrs. Lee
Describes the experiences of Mary Anna Custis (Mrs. Robert E.) Lee, including her time at Ravensworth manor near Burke.

3. Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Davis
Reflects on the complex lives of Julia Dent Grant and Varina Davis, First Ladies of the United States and Confederate States, respectively.

4. Clara Barton
Tells the story of Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the American National Red Cross.

Aviation Pioneer Dr. William Christmas
Introduces the little-known inventor and pilot, whose 1908 flight in Fairfax Station was the first aviation success since the Wright Brothers.

This Old House
Introduces past and present historic homes of the 19th century across Springfield, Annandale, and Burke.

The Burke Airport
Tells the story of the government’s selection of Burke as the future site of Washington’s international airport (Dulles)  and the community’s years-long fight to save the village.

Anna Maria Fitzhugh of Ravensworth
Reflects on the remarkable life of Anna Maria Goldsborough, whose marriage to and early widowing by William Henry Fitzhugh left her in charge of vast properties in Fairfax and Stafford Counties from 1830 to 1874.  This presentation runs about 30 minutes.

Honoring the Civil War Dead
Describes the founding of national and community cemeteries by the federal government and states for those who served in the Civil War.  Did you know Arlington was not our area’s first national cemetery?