Alaska’s first newspapers…

September 24, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

The very first newspapers published in a state or territory–particularly those west of the Allegheny Mountains, have always been of interest to me and I suspect others as well.  To share the wealth of information found John C. Oswald’s “Printing In The Americas” I will, from time to time, reflect upon the first newspaper or newspapers in many of the United States. Alaska’s interesting history will be first.

Alaska_TimesThe first periodical issued for distribution in Alaska was in handwritten form. It was a monthly “published” for the information of a force of men laying a telegraph line connecting Alaska with Siberia. Its name was the “Esquimeaux” (we now spell ‘Eskimo’), begun Oct. 14, 1866 and continued for twelve numbers, ten done at Libbysville, Port Clarence, Russian America, and two at Camp Libby, Plover Bay, Eastern Siberia. The completion of the Atlantic cable having put an end to the telegraph project, the manuscript of the “Esquimeaux” was taken to San Francisco & issued in printed form beginning Oct. 31, 1867.

The first formal newspaper which circulated in Alaska was actually printed in San Francisco beginning March 1, 1868, shortly after the purchase of Alaska by the United States, titled the “Alaska Herald“. It was semi-monthly & printed in both Russian & English.

The “Alaska Times” started at Sitka on May 1, 1869 and continued there until 1870 when it was moved to Seattle where–according to Oswald–just two numbers were published. But our inventory shows at least 20 numbers having been published in Seattle.