Alaskan History Timeline

The following important events in the history of Alaska affected political boundaries, record keeping, and family movements.

  • 1783 Russian fur traders established the first white settlement on Kodiak Island.
  • 1804 Sitka was permanently founded by the Russians. It served as Alaska’s capital until 1906, when the capital was moved to Juneau.
  • 1824-1828 In treaties with the United States and Great Britain, Russia agreed to recognize latitude 54° 40 N as Alaska’s southern boundary and longitude 141° W as the eastern boundary. Further boundary adjustments between Alaska and British Columbia were made in 1903.
  • 1867 The United States purchased Alaska from Russia.
  • 1884 Congress passed the first Organic Act, providing a governor and federal courts for Alaska.
  • 1896 The Klondike gold strike started a rush to the Canadian Yukon Territory. Gold was discovered at Nome in 1899 and at Fairbanks in 1902.
  • 1912 Congress passed the second Organic Act, establishing Alaska as a U.S. territory and providing for a territorial legislature.
  • 1959 Alaska became a state.

An especially helpful source for studying the history of Alaska is William R. Hunt, Alaska: A Bicentennial History (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1976; FHL book 979.8 H2hu)

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