Roadtrippin’ 2023: Alaska’s first attempt to chronicle daily life

The Alaska's News Source Roadtrippin' crew heads to Sitka! Their first stop? The headquarters for the oldest newspaper in Alaska.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 6:58 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 7:10 PM AKDT
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SITKA, Alaska (KTUU) - Sitka is home to the first newspaper published in Alaska. In 1868, Thomas Murphy embarked on the first attempt at chronicle daily life in Alaska by hand-writing a newspaper he called the Sitka Times.

“Right after the transfer in 1867, a local entrepreneur started a newspaper which he wrote out by hand. He hired a couple of scribes, I guess you’d call them, and they would hand write a few pages of Sitka news,” Sitka Sentinel editor Thad Poulsen said.

Murphy was interested in the development of Alaska, so the paper was filled with advertisements and only a small amount of news. The paper ended up only running for four issues, but Murphy later brought in a printing press. Hal Spackman, executive director of the Sitka Historical Society, said that speaks to the creativity of Alaskans at the time.

“You know there wasn’t a press of any kind, someone had handwritten that thing and I don’t know how many copies he had out there, but it shows the struggles and ingenuity people had to use early on,” Spackman said.