Place:Alaska, United States

Alt namesAKsource: Getty Vocabulary Program
Russian Americasource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1984)
Coordinates65°N 153°W
Located inUnited States     (1959 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Alaska ( ;  ; ; ; Yup'ik: Alaskaq; ) is a state located in the Western United States on the northwest extremity of North America. A semi-exclave of the U.S., it borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and the Yukon territory to the east; it also shares a maritime border with the Russian Federation's Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west, just across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas of the Arctic Ocean, while the Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest.

Alaska is by far the largest U.S. state by area, comprising more total area than the next three largest states (Texas, California, and Montana) combined. It represents the seventh largest subnational division in the world. It is the third-least populous and the most sparsely populated state, but by far the continent's most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel, with a population of 736,081 as of 2020—more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland.[1] Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. The state capital of Juneau is the second-largest city in the United States by area, comprising more territory than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware. The former capital of Alaska, Sitka, is the largest U.S. city by area.

What is now Alaska has been home to various indigenous peoples for thousands of years; it is widely believed that the region served as the entry point for the initial settlement of North America by way of the Bering land bridge. The Russian Empire was the first to actively colonize the area beginning in the 18th century, eventually establishing Russian America, which spanned most of the current state. The expense and logistical difficulty of maintaining this distant possession prompted its sale to the U.S. in 1867 for US$7.2 million (equivalent to $ million in ), or approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2). The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912. It was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959.

While it has one of the smallest state economies in the country, Alaska's per capita income is among the highest, owing to a diversified economy dominated by fishing, natural gas, and oil, all of which it has in abundance. United States armed forces bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy; more than half the state is federally owned public land, including a multitude of national forests, national parks, and wildlife refuges.

The indigenous population of Alaska is proportionally the highest of any U.S. state, at over 15 percent. Close to two dozen native languages are spoken, and Alaskan Natives exercise considerable influence in local and state politics.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


Numerous indigenous peoples occupied Alaska for thousands of years before the arrival of European peoples to the area. Linguistic and DNA studies done here have provided evidence for the settlement of North America by way of the Bering land bridge. At the Upward Sun River site in the Tanana Valley in Alaska, remains of a six-week-old infant were found. The baby's DNA showed that she belonged to a population that was genetically separate from other native groups present elsewhere in the New World at the end of the Pleistocene. Ben Potter, the University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist who unearthed the remains at the Upward Sun River site in 2013, named this new group Ancient Beringians.

The Tlingit people developed a society with a matrilineal kinship system of property inheritance and descent in what is today Southeast Alaska, along with parts of British Columbia and the Yukon. Also in Southeast were the Haida, now well known for their unique arts. The Tsimshian people came to Alaska from British Columbia in 1887, when President Grover Cleveland, and later the U.S. Congress, granted them permission to settle on Annette Island and found the town of Metlakatla. All three of these peoples, as well as other indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, experienced smallpox outbreaks from the late 18th through the mid-19th century, with the most devastating epidemics occurring in the 1830s and 1860s, resulting in high fatalities and social disruption.

The Aleutian Islands are still home to the Aleut people's seafaring society, although they were the first Native Alaskans to be exploited by the Russians. Western and Southwestern Alaska are home to the Yup'ik, while their cousins the Alutiiq ~ Sugpiaq live in what is now Southcentral Alaska. The Gwich'in people of the northern Interior region are Athabaskan and primarily known today for their dependence on the caribou within the much-contested Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The North Slope and Little Diomede Island are occupied by the widespread Inupiat people.


Some researchers believe the first Russian settlement in Alaska was established in the 17th century. According to this hypothesis, in 1648 several koches of Semyon Dezhnyov's expedition came ashore in Alaska by storm and founded this settlement. This hypothesis is based on the testimony of Chukchi geographer Nikolai Daurkin, who had visited Alaska in 1764–1765 and who had reported on a village on the Kheuveren River, populated by "bearded men" who "pray to the icons". Some modern researchers associate Kheuveren with Koyuk River.

The first European vessel to reach Alaska is generally held to be the St. Gabriel under the authority of the surveyor M. S. Gvozdev and assistant navigator I. Fyodorov on August 21, 1732, during an expedition of Siberian Cossack A. F. Shestakov and Russian explorer Dmitry Pavlutsky (1729–1735). Another European contact with Alaska occurred in 1741, when Vitus Bering led an expedition for the Russian Navy aboard the St. Peter. After his crew returned to Russia with sea otter pelts judged to be the finest fur in the world, small associations of fur traders began to sail from the shores of Siberia toward the Aleutian Islands. The first permanent European settlement was founded in 1784.

Between 1774 and 1800, Spain sent several expeditions to Alaska to assert its claim over the Pacific Northwest. In 1789, a Spanish settlement and fort were built in Nootka Sound. These expeditions gave names to places such as Valdez, Bucareli Sound, and Cordova. Later, the Russian-American Company carried out an expanded colonization program during the early-to-mid-19th century. Sitka, renamed New Archangel from 1804 to 1867, on Baranof Island in the Alexander Archipelago in what is now Southeast Alaska, became the capital of Russian America. It remained the capital after the colony was transferred to the United States. The Russians never fully colonized Alaska, and the colony was never very profitable. Evidence of Russian settlement in names and churches survive throughout southeastern Alaska.

William H. Seward, the 24th United States Secretary of State, negotiated the Alaska Purchase (also known as Seward's Folly) with the Russians in 1867 for $7.2 million. Russia's contemporary ruler Tsar Alexander II, the Emperor of the Russian Empire, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland, also planned the sale; the purchase was made on March 30, 1867. Six months later the commissioners arrived in Sitka and the formal transfer was arranged; the formal flag-raising took place at Fort Sitka on October 18, 1867. In the ceremony 250 uniformed U.S. soldiers marched to the governor's house at "Castle Hill", where the Russian troops lowered the Russian flag and the U.S. flag was raised. This event is celebrated as Alaska Day, a legal holiday on October 18.

Alaska was loosely governed by the military initially, and was administered as a district starting in 1884, with a governor appointed by the United States president. A federal district court was headquartered in Sitka. For most of Alaska's first decade under the United States flag, Sitka was the only community inhabited by American settlers. They organized a "provisional city government", which was Alaska's first municipal government, but not in a legal sense. Legislation allowing Alaskan communities to legally incorporate as cities did not come about until 1900, and home rule for cities was extremely limited or unavailable until statehood took effect in 1959.

Alaska as an incorporated U.S. territory

Starting in the 1890s and stretching in some places to the early 1910s, gold rushes in Alaska and the nearby Yukon Territory brought thousands of miners and settlers to Alaska. Alaska was officially incorporated as an organized territory in 1912. Alaska's capital, which had been in Sitka until 1906, was moved north to Juneau. Construction of the Alaska Governor's Mansion began that same year. European immigrants from Norway and Sweden also settled in southeast Alaska, where they entered the fishing and logging industries.

During World War II, the Aleutian Islands Campaign focused on Attu, Agattu and Kiska, all which were occupied by the Empire of Japan. During the Japanese occupation, a white American civilian and two United States Navy personnel were killed at Attu and Kiska respectively, and nearly a total of 50 Aleut civilians and eight sailors were interned in Japan. About half of the Aleuts died during the period of internment. Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and Adak became significant bases for the United States Army, United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy. The United States Lend-Lease program involved flying American warplanes through Canada to Fairbanks and then Nome; Soviet pilots took possession of these aircraft, ferrying them to fight the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities.


Statehood for Alaska was an important cause of James Wickersham early in his tenure as a congressional delegate. Decades later, the statehood movement gained its first real momentum following a territorial referendum in 1946. The Alaska Statehood Committee and Alaska's Constitutional Convention would soon follow. Statehood supporters also found themselves fighting major battles against political foes, mostly in the U.S. Congress but also within Alaska. Statehood was approved by the U.S. Congress on July 7, 1958; Alaska was officially proclaimed a state on January 3, 1959.

Good Friday earthquake

On March 27, 1964, the massive Good Friday earthquake killed 133 people and destroyed several villages and portions of large coastal communities, mainly by the resultant tsunamis and landslides. It was the second-most-powerful earthquake in recorded history, with a moment magnitude of 9.2 (more than a thousand times as powerful as the 1989 San Francisco earthquake). The time of day (5:36 pm), time of year (spring) and location of the epicenter were all cited as factors in potentially sparing thousands of lives, particularly in Anchorage.

Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 megathrust earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake recorded in North American history, and the second most powerful earthquake recorded in world history. of fault ruptured at once and moved up to , releasing about 500 years of stress buildup. Soil liquefaction, fissures, landslides, and other ground failures caused major structural damage in several communities and much damage to property. Anchorage sustained great destruction or damage to many inadequately earthquake-engineered houses, buildings, and infrastructure (paved streets, sidewalks, water and sewer mains, electrical systems, and other man-made equipment), particularly in the several landslide zones along Knik Arm. southwest, some areas near Kodiak were permanently raised by . Southeast of Anchorage, areas around the head of Turnagain Arm near Girdwood and Portage dropped as much as , requiring reconstruction and fill to raise the Seward Highway above the new high tide mark.

In Prince William Sound, Port Valdez suffered a massive underwater landslide, resulting in the deaths of 32 people between the collapse of the Valdez city harbor and docks, and inside the ship that was docked there at the time. Nearby, a tsunami destroyed the village of Chenega, killing 23 of the 68 people who lived there; survivors out-ran the wave, climbing to high ground. Post-quake tsunamis severely affected Whittier, Seward, Kodiak, and other Alaskan communities, as well as people and property in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. Tsunamis also caused damage in Hawaii and Japan. Evidence of motion directly related to the earthquake was also reported from Florida and Texas.

Alaska oil boom

The 1968 discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and the 1977 completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System led to an oil boom. Royalty revenues from oil have funded large state budgets from 1980 onward.

That same year, not coincidentally, Alaska repealed its state income tax.

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez hit a reef in the Prince William Sound, spilling more than of crude oil over of coastline. Today, the battle between philosophies of development and conservation is seen in the contentious debate over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the proposed Pebble Mine.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed to have reached the U.S. state of Alaska on March 12, 2020.

On March 11, Governor Mike Dunleavy's office declared a state of emergency to ensure all entities have the necessary response resources. The next day, the first case, a foreign national in Anchorage, was announced to the public.

On March 21, 2020, Ketchikan, a small, coastal town of approximately 8,000 residents located in Southeast Alaska was determined to have a cluster of six COVID-19 cases. The town sheltered in place for the following 14 days. On March 24, 2020, three more cases of COVID-19 were found in Ketchikan, bringing the total there to nine. The next day, the total cases there reached 11. On April 1, 2020, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Ketchikan rose to 14.


1867Alaska purchased from Russia for $7.2mSource:Wikipedia
1880Alaska appears in US censusSource:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1912Alaska granted territorial statusSource:Wikipedia
1959Alaska becomes a stateSource:Wikipedia

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1880 33,426
1890 32,052
1900 63,592
1910 64,356
1920 55,036
1929 59,278
1939 72,524
1950 128,643
1960 226,167
1970 300,382
1980 401,851
1990 550,043

Note: Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, with essentially its present boundaries. It was made a territory in 1912 and admitted as a State on January 3, 1959. Census coverage of Alaska began in 1880. For the censuses of 1930 and 1940, Alaska actually was enumerated in the fall of the preceding year (1929, 1939).. Alaska has no counties; the names, boundaries, and designations of the subdivisions reported in the census have evolved considerably over recent decades. In 1990 and 1980, most of the population of the State lived in entities designated as Boroughs; the remainder was reported by Census Areas (sometimes abbreviated C.A.). In 1970, the census was reported by Census Divisions, some of which corresponded to boroughs. In 1960, the census was reported by 24 Election Districts. The table in Part III lists areas that existed in 1990 with their 1990 names and designations. In both the table and the notes, areas listed without any designation had ceased to exist by 1990, when all areas were either Boroughs or Census Areas.. For areas that existed in 1960, 1970, or 1980 but not in 1990, the notes specify the areas of which they became part. (Small portions may have come from or gone to other areas not specified.) No designations appear in the table for these extinguished areas; in 1980 they were Census Areas, in 1970 Census Divisions, and in 1960 Election Districts.

Research Tips

Outstanding guide to Alaska family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.

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