The Sitka Times (AK, 1868)

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Publication History

Place of Publication:  Sitka, Alaska Territory

Frequency:  Weekly (irregular)

Volume and Issue Data: Sept. 19, 1868, 1:1; Oct. 19, 1868, 1:6; Oct. 31, 1868, 1:7; Nov. 7, 1868, 1:8

Size and Format:  8 x 12 in.; two cols.; four pages; cursive pen and ink.

Editor/Publisher:  Thomas G. Murphy, aka “Barney O. Ragan” or “Regan”

Title Changes and Continuations:  The Sitka Times (Sept. 19, 1868-Nov. 7, 1868) continued as Alaska Times (printed), 1869-1870.

General Description and Notes:

Editor Murphy (“Regan”) claimed The Sitka Times was “the first paper published in Alaska.”  The “introductory” column on page two outlines the editor’s intention to publish local news and to promote the general economic development of the region:

“To day we present the Sitka Times to the citizens of  Sitka and the world at large.  It is the first attempt ever made to publish a paper in this vast land of Alaska.  The Times will be devoted to local and general news.  We shall, when we deem it practicable, discuss all question of public interest, touching the affairs about Alaska.  In Politics and Religion the Times will be neutral.  The Pacific Rail Road we are in favor of and would love to hear the scream of its whistle echoed from the peaks of Alaska, and the musical strain of humanity shouting a chorus of  ‘Let the iron horse speed along with its precious burden of emigration.’  We are strongly in favor of a civil government and strictly opposed to military rule.  Give Alaska a civil government, you may soon expect to hear of rich minerals having been fully developed by our latent industry, but not before.

“Having no ‘devil’ in our office the ‘Times‘ should be virtuous.

“As our local items will be few we shall spare no pains in giving a well defined description of all fights; recording in language of flowers the matrimonial pursuits of mankind; with the respectful details of those, whose souls have fled to the ‘spirit land'” (1:1, p. 2, cols. 1  and 2a).

The editor explained and defended the handwritten format of his paper in the first “Editorial:”

“The appearance of the ‘Times‘ being written instead of printed will perhaps cause many a laugh.  In olden times a laugh would be out of place, as written pamphlets and the town crier were the means alone employed of conveying news, as no [?] parties at that time had been established by the fair.

“To invest in the purchase of a press would incur great expense and until we see better inducements than are now offered, a press can be dispensed with, although the copying of even so small a sheet, as this is, requires much labor and some means.

“Our budget in producing such a paper is not with the view of making a fortune, but chiefly if possible to gratify the citizens of our Town and for this we shall do our best” (1:1, p. 2, col. 2)

The paper’s script is relatively large and the cursive hand is quite legible.  The front page of the first number includes a large, bold name and masthead and the rest is advertisements for Sitka businesses.  Page two is the editor’s introductory comments and the editorial.  Page three covers seven local news stories including ship arrivals and departures.  The fourth and last page is even divided between local news and advertisements.

According to Hinckley, Murphy was known by contemporaries as a “politician, lawyer, priest, editor, printer, author and poet.”  He organized early efforts to establish a civil government for the territory and was elected by a small but apparently unrepresentative group to head the new government.  Within three days a second vote removed Murphy from office.  He later became the city attorney.

Murphy eventually imported a printing press, but had insufficient money to print his newspaper.  The Sitka mayor invested the necessary funds and, on April 23, 1869, Murphy edited the first printed issue of the (retitled) Alaska Times.

Information Sources

Bibliography:  Ted C. Hinckley, The Americanization of Alaska, 1867-1897 (Palo Alto, Calif.:  Pacific Books, Publishers, 1972), 39-46; Nichols, “History of Alaska Under Rule of  the United States,” (1924), 426; James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 253-254.

Locations:  Cu-B; DLC (photocopy, 1:1 only); Territorial Library-Juneau.

The Shushana News (AK, no date)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Chisana, Alaska

Frequency:  Daily, but irregular

Volume and Issue Data:  Unknown

Size and Format:  Ledger sheets

Editor/Publisher:  “A placer miner named McGillicuddy” (Davis, 1976)

Title Changes and Continuation:  Unknown

General Description and Notes:

According to Davis, a placer miner named McGillicuddy issued the Shushana News from a cabin eight miles from his nearest neighbor.  He owned the only radio in the area and would take notes of broadcasts, then rewrite his notes on ledger sheets.  A dog at a camp eight miles away had been trained to fetch McGillicuddy’s daily and return it to the camp.  McGillicuddy handed the paper to the dog, neatly rolled in a strong wrapper, and the newsdog would return to its master at the camp with the latest radio news reports.  The dog’s master would then post the paper where everyone else in the camp could read it.  On at least one occasion, the dog returned without the paper, but was punished and produced the missing paper.

Information Sources:                 

Bibliography:  Phyllis Davis, A Guide to Alaska’s Newspapers (Juneau, Alaska:  Gastineau Channel Centennial Association and Alaska Division of  State Libraries and Museums, 1976), p 14.

Locations:  No copies located

Optimist (AK, 1910)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Iditarod (“at the Fish Market Bldg.”), Alaska

Frequency:  Irregular; approximately weekly

Volume and Issue Data:  No. 5, July 29, 1910; No. 6, Aug. 8, 1910

Size and Format:  24 x 36 inches; written on manila paper

Editor/Publisher:  Jim Wylie, editor and publisher

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:


Information Sources:

Bibliography:  James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 266

Locations:  Unknown

The Little Printing Press (AK, 1953-1957)


The Little Printing Press (AK, 1953-1957)

Place of Publication: Nome, Alaska

Frequency:  Unknown, 64 issues

Volume and Issue Data: July 15, 1953-July1957

Size and Format:  Handwritten and typed

Editor/Publisher:  Pamela Mandeville Mulvihill (eight years old)

Title Changes and Continuation:  The Little Newsprint

General Description and Notes:

According to the editor in notes written in 1975, The Little Newsprint was begun by Pamela Mandeville Mulvihill in Nome when she was eight years old.  Her mother, Ellen Mulvihill, did the typing and the ran the ditto machine.  Her mother committed the error in the title by changing the name to The Little Printing Press after the first issue.  Pamela did all the writing and dictated to her mother what she should type, including spelling.

The paper appeared irregularly for 64 issues untill about July, 1957.  The reason for starting the paper “has been forgotten,” but the author claims it was an “instant success.”

The Little Printing Press (AK, 1953-1957)

According to Mulvihill, she sold 100 copies for 1 cent each.  I never took tips.  After the paper had been typed and run off the night before (usually very late after many discussions over the news), she would attach her coin changer to her belt and go to main street early Saturday morning.  There was a regular route through various stores and offices which were her regular customers.  The drug store took several which they resold.

She had several regular subscribers throughout Alaska and a few “outside.”  Delegate Bob Bartlett was an occasional reader.  Out of towners were charged only the cost of the paper plus postage–5 cents at the time.  Ads were five cents.  News was collected by simply being a girl growing up in Nome; “I just kept my ears open!” (PMM, Dec. 16, 1975)

Information Sources:

Bibliography: None

Locations: Alaska State Library

Illustrated Arctic News (ENG-AK, 1850-1851)

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Illustrated Arctic News (Eng-AK, 1850-1851)

Entry Updated: December 21, 2016

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  On board H.M.S. Resolute, Captain Horatio T. Austin, C.B., in search of the expedition under Sir John Franklin looking for the “Northwest Passage”

Frequency:  Five issues; frequency unknown

Volume and Issue Data:  October 1850-March 1851

Size and Format:  44.5 x 27 cm.; printed facsimile is folio, 12 x 19 inches, 57 pp

Editor/Publisher: Sherard Osborn and George F. McDougall?

Title Changes and Continuation: None

General Description and Notes:

Illustrated Arctic News (printed) (AK, 1850-1851)

Printed and published after the H.M.S. Resolute expedition returned home, from the five numbers originally issued in manuscript, October 1850-March 1851, on shipboard during the wintering of the H.M.S. Resolute in Barrow Strait.

The H.M.S. Terror, captained by Sir Franklin (and its companion ship, the H.M.S. Erebus), which the Resolute’s crew and other expeditions searched for over a period of 11 years, was finally found at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean above the Arctic Circle in September 2016, according the The Guardian (Sept. 12, 2016). The H.M.S. Terror was located 168 years after it went missing off King William Island in eastern Queen Maud Gulf in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in Nunavut, Canada (see map below). The H.M.S. Erebus had been found several years earlier just to the south of where the Terror was later located.

Map: The H.M.S. Resolute wintered on the Barrow Strait in search of the Sir Franklin expedition. The H.M.S. Terror and its companion ship the H.M.S. Erebus were found, more than 160 years after they went missing, off King William Island in Queen Maud Gulf.

The H.M.S. Resolute, on which these handwritten newspapers were produced, became famous in politics and popular culture long after its retirement. Wood from the ship was later made into two desks, one of which the English crown gave as a gift to the United States President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. That desk still sits today in the Oval Office of the White House. That desk was also featured (as was its origin from the H.M.S. Resolute) in the popular film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), starring Nicholas Cage.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Sherard Osborn and George F. McDougall, eds., Facsimile of the Illustrated Arctic News, Published on Board H.M.S. Resolute, Captain Horatio T. Austin, C.B., In Search of the Expedition Under Sir John Franklin (London:  Ackerman, 1852)

Links: Captain Horatio T. Austin;  Sir John Franklin Northwest Passage Expedition; “Ship Found in Arctic 168 Years after Doomed Northwest Passage Attempt”; Franklin’s Last Voyage.

Locations: British Library (?);   Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England; Metropolitan Reference Library, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Esquimeaux (AK, 1866-1867)

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The Esquimeaux (AK, 1866-1867)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Libbysville, Port Clarence, Russian America (Nos. 1-10, 1866-1867), and Camp Libby, Plover Bay, East Siberia (Nos. 11 and 12, 1867)

Frequency:  Monthly

Volume and Issue Data:  Vol. 1, Nos. 1-12; Sunday, Oct. 14, 1866; 12 issues

Size and Format:  52 pages; manuscript and printed editions

Editor/Publisher:  John J. Harrington, editor; Turnbull and Smith (San Francisco), publisher of printed numbers

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

The Esquimeaux (AK, 1866-1867)

According to Wickersham, this monthly publication, of which Nos. 1 to 10 inclusive were published in Libbysville, Port Clarence, Russian America, and Nos. 11 and 12 in Camp Libby, Plover Bay, Eastern Siberia, appeared in both manuscript and later print.

The paper provided information of the workers building the Western Union Telegraph Expedition line planned from the United States in Seattle on Puget Sound, via the Fraser and Yukon rivers, to Port Clarence and then across the Bering Strait to Plover Bay and on to points in Asia and Europe.

After the abandonment of the project, because of the success of the Trans-Atlantic cable in 1866, and the U.S. purchase of Russian Alaska in March 1867 for $7 million, the manuscript was taken to San Francisco and printed there by the editor.  The editor’s preface is dated Oct. 31, 1867.

The Esquimeaux (AK, 1866-1867)

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 258

Citations: Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, California), Monday, December 02, 1867; Issue [47]  

Locations:  Alaska State Libraries:  Alaska Historical Library, AkAAR, AkAU, AkK, AkNNC; CU-B?

The Eskimo Bulletin (AK, 1893-1902?)

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Eskimo Bulletin (AK, 1893, 1902)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Cape Prince of Wales, A.M.A. Mission School, Alaska (1893, 1902)

Frequency:  Annual? “Only Yearly in the World”

Volume and Issue Data:  March 24, 1893-Vol. 5, May, 1902?

Size and Format:  7 1/4 x 10 3/4 inches; some handwritten and mimeographed, some printed

Editor/Publisher:  W.T. Lopp (1894-1902); Oo-ten-na, Eskimo engraver; Kiok, I-ya-tunk-uk and Ad-loo-at, compositors; American Missionary Association Mission School

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

See image

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 258


Locations:  AkAU, AkU, CaACUAI, IdU, UkCU-Pa

Eagle City Tribune (AK, 1898)

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Eagle City Tribune (AK, 1898)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Eagle City, Alaska (1898)

Frequency:  Weekly

Volume and Issue Data:  Vol. 1, No. 6, Oct. 8, 1898; only a few issues published

Size and Format:  8 x 10 inches; two pages; pen and ink

Editor/Publisher:  Charles C. Carruthers, editor; F.L. Lowell, assistant

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:

According to the McLean, the Tribune was an independent newspaper that provided community news and editorials on the differences between Canadian and American mining laws, customs and tariffs.  The Tribune’s motto was “He that runs may read.”  No price appears.

The Oct. 8, 1898 issue includes five advertisements and criticisms of Canadian officials and “their coadjutors, the B.C. press.”  The paper was clearly unhappy with Canadian treatment of Americans in the eastern Alaska/Yukon mining region.  Tribune editor Carruthers displayed a tendency to editorialize in almost every article.  At the same time, he also records the names of many of the early arrivals in the country, pictures the difficulties between Canadians and Americans, and indicates the difficulties and dissatisfactions between labor and management.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Dora E. McLean, Early Newspapers on the Upper Yukon Watershed:  1894-1907, unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Alaska, 1963, 38-43; James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 258; Melody Webb, Yukon: The Last Frontier (University of British Columbia Press/University of Nebraska Press, 1985/1993), p. 137; John McPhee, Coming into the Country (Bantam Books, 1979), p. 340.

Link: Melody Webb, Yukon: The Last Frontier (University of British Columbia Press/University of Nebraska Press, 1985-1993), p. 137

Locations:  Oct. 8, 1898: AKHisLib-Juneau; photocopy reprint in McLean (1963), 42-43

Alaska Forum (AK, 1900-1906)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Rampart, Alaska (1900-1906)

Frequency:  Weekly

Volume and Issue Data:  Sept. 27, 1900-Aug. 4, 1906

Size and Format:  8 x 10 inches; 2 cols; 4 pages

Editor/Publisher:  W.R. Edwards, editor (1900); J.B. Wingate, editor (1901-1906), manager (1900-1906)

Title Changes and Continuation:  Occasionally cited as the Rampart Forum

General Description & Notes:

According to McLean, Edwards promoted mining stock and Wingate was a mining recorder, mail carrier and miner then they started printing the Alaska Forum.  The partnership lasted only five months, with Edwards leaving to start the rival Rampart Miner six months later (The Miner last only about one year).  By July 1904, however, the local Episcopal Church recalled the iron printing press Wingate leased to publish the Forum, intending to lease to the promoters of a new paper, the Yukon Valley News.  Wingate fought the termination of his lease in court, but failed in his claims.  Wingate, without a press, tried to continue to publish the Forum to hold off his new rival.  Using old copies of his paper as a base, he pasted over the previous week’s news handwritten and typewritten material reproduced on a hectograph machine.  The absence of old copies of the Forum and the difficulties of publishing the manual versions led to a two-month suspension of the paper.  Wingate resumed printing the Forum when he had a new, foot-powered press built.  The shafts and fixtures of the press had been turned on a lathe run by dog-power, leading Wingate to refer to his printing plant as a “five-dog-power press.”

The Forum cost 25 cents and contained advertising, local news, especially stories related to mining, editorials, and occasional attacks on the Episcopal Church, judges (particularly Judge Wickersham, compiler of the Bibliography on Alaskan Literature, who had ruled against Wingate’s bid to keep the Episcopal press) and others Wingate opposed.  The tone of the paper became noticeably more strident after the loss of the printing press.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Dora E. McLean, Early Newspapers on the Upper Yukon Watershed:  1894-1907, unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Alaska, 1963, 44-56; James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, AK:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 251.

Locations:  AlHi-Juneau, AK


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