Alaska History - the history of Alaska
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Vacation 2 USA   >   Alaska   >   History
Vacation 2 USA   >   History   >   Alaska History


Alaska History

Alaska was first populated by humans who came across from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge. It was via this route that most, if not all, of the pre-Columbian population reached the Americas. The Native American population included Inupiaq, Inuit and Yupik Eskimos, and Aleuts.

The first Europeans to reach Alaska came from Russia. Alaska became a Russian colony in 1744, although the first Russian settlement was founded only in 1784. Spanish ships also explored the coast and made some settlements during the 18th century. The names of some Spanish settlements such as Cordova and Valdez survive to this today.

Following the British North America Act of 1867, which created the unified dominion of Canada, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward urged, and the U.S. Senate approved, a treaty purchasing Alaska from Imperial Russia for US$7,200,000. The U.S. took possession of the territory, and raised the American flag on October 18th, 1867, which is still commemorated as "Alaska day". After the purchase, the area was initially called the Department of Alaska. Between 1884 and 1912, it was called the District of Alaska. Alaska was granted territorial status in 1912.

During World War II, three of the outer Aleutian Islands (Attu, Agattu and Kiska) were occupied by Japanese troops. This was the only area within the current borders of the United States to have been occupied by enemy forces during the war.

On January 3rd, 1959, Alaska became a US state. On March 27th, 1964, a major earthquake, known as the "Good Friday Earthquake" or "Great Alaska Earthquake", hit Alaska killing 131 people, and causing tsunamis which destroyed several towns and villages.

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Alaska: A History

By Claus M. Naske

University of Oklahoma Press
Paperback (520 pages)

Alaska: A History
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The largest by far of the fifty states, Alaska is also the state of greatest mystery and diversity. And, as Claus-M. Naske and Herman E. Slotnick show in this comprehensive survey, the history of Alaska’s peoples and the development of its economy have matched the diversity of its land- and seascapes.

Alaska: A History begins by examining the region’s geography and the Native peoples who inhabited it for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. The Russians claimed northern North America by right of discovery in 1741. During their occupation of “Russian America” the region was little more than an outpost for fur hunters and traders. When the czar sold the territory to the United States in 1867, nobody knew what to do with “Seward’s Folly.”
Mainland America paid little attention to the new acquisition until a rush of gold seekers flooded into the Yukon Territory. In 1906 Congress granted Alaska Territory a voteless delegate and in 1912 gave it a territorial legislature. Not until 1959, however, was Alaska’s long-sought goal of statehood realized. During World War II, Alaska’s place along the great circle route from the United States to Asia firmly established its military importance, which was underscored during the Cold War. The developing military garrison brought federal money and many new residents. Then the discovery of huge oil and natural-gas deposits gave a measure of economic security to the state.
Alaska: A History provides a full chronological survey of the region’s and state’s history, including the precedent-setting Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, which compensated Native Americans for their losses; the effect of the oil industry and the trans-Alaska pipeline on the economy; the Exxon Valdez oil spill; and Alaska politics through the early 2000s.

81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska's Frozen Wilderness

By Brian Murphy

Da Capo Pr
Released: 2016-03-01
Paperback (264 pages)

81 Days Below Zero: The Incredible Survival Story of a World War II Pilot in Alaska s Frozen Wilderness
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Shortly before Christmas in 1943, five Army aviators left Alaska's Ladd Field on a routine flight to test their hastily retrofitted B-24 Liberator in harsh winter conditions. The mission ended in a crash that claimed all but one—Leon Crane, a city kid from Philadelphia with no wilderness experience. With little more than a parachute for cover and an old Boy Scout knife in his pocket, Crane found himself alone in subzero temperatures. 81 Days Below Zero recounts, for the first time, the full story of Crane's remarkable twelve-week saga.

History of Alaska

By Hubert Howe Bancroft

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (408 pages)

History of Alaska
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Hubert Howe Bancroft was one of the foremost historians on the history of the American Southwest and Mexico, and in addition to writing comprehensive works on the history of various American states in the region, he also wrote the comprehensive History of Alaska, a comprehensive account of the history of Alaska and its society, from aboriginal inhabitants until the 19th century.

Alaska: A Novel

By James A. Michener

Dial Press
Released: 2002-11-12
Paperback (1152 pages)

Alaska: A Novel
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In this sweeping epic of the northernmost American frontier, James A. Michener guides us through Alaska’s fierce terrain and history, from the long-forgotten past to the bustling present. As his characters struggle for survival, Michener weaves together the exciting high points of Alaska’s story: its brutal origins; the American acquisition; the gold rush; the tremendous growth and exploitation of the salmon industry; the arduous construction of the Alcan Highway, undertaken to defend the territory during World War II. A spellbinding portrait of a human community fighting to establish its place in the world, Alaska traces a bold and majestic saga of the enduring spirit of a land and its people.
Praise for Alaska
“Few will escape the allure of the land and people [Michener] describes. . . . Alaska takes the reader on a journey through one of the bleakest, richest, most foreboding, and highly inviting territories in our Republic, if not the world. . . . The characters that Michener creates are bigger than life.”Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Always the master of exhaustive historical research, Michener tracks the settling of Alaska [in] vividly detailed scenes and well-developed characters.”Boston Herald
“Michener is still, sentence for sentence, writing’s fastest attention grabber.”The New York Times

Alaska Days With John Muir (Classic Reprint)

By Samuel Hall Young

Forgotten Books
Paperback (252 pages)

Alaska Days With John Muir (Classic Reprint)
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Excerpt from Alaska Days With John Muir

Deep calm from God enfolds the land; Light on the mountain top I stand; How peaceful all, but ah, how grand!

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.

Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land

By Walter R. Borneman

Harper Perennial
Released: 2004-01-20
Paperback (640 pages)

Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land
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The history of Alaska is filled with stories of new land and new riches -- and ever present are new people with competing views over how the valuable resources should be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion call of "Gold!"; soldiers battling out a decisive chapter in world war; oil wildcatters looking for a different kind of mineral wealth; and always at the core of these disputes is the question of how the land is to be used and by whom.

While some want Alaska to remain static, others are in the vanguard of change. Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land shows that there are no easy answers on either side and that Alaska will always be crossing the next frontier.

Alaska's History: The People, Land, and Events of the North Country (Alaska Pocket Guide)

By Harry Ritter

Alaska Northwest Books
Paperback (144 pages)

Alaska s History: The People, Land, and Events of the North Country (Alaska Pocket Guide)
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A lively, take-along account of Alaska's sweeping history made vivid with historical photos and entertaining essays. Topics covered include Native lifestyles before contact with the Europeans; Alexander Baranov and the Russian fur trade; John Muir's visit to Glacier Bay in 1879; the Klondike gold rush stampede; pioneer climbs on Mount McKinley; the exploits of early Alaska Bush pilots; big game hunting in the North Country; Alaska's fisheries, where salmon is king; and today's Native traditions.

A history book that's fun to read, Alaska's History sets forth the Last Frontier's glorious past and challenging present.

Coming into the Country

By John McPhee

Farrar Straus Giroux
Released: 1991-04-01
Paperback (448 pages)

Coming into the Country
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Coming into the Country is an unforgettable account of Alaska and Alaskans. It is a rich tapestry of vivid characters, observed landscapes, and descriptive narrative, in three principal segments that deal, respectively, with a total wilderness, with urban Alaska, and with life in the remoteness of the bush.

Readers of McPhee's earlier books will not be unprepared for his surprising shifts of scene and ordering of events, brilliantly combined into an organic whole. In the course of this volume we are made acquainted with the lore and techniques of placer mining, the habits and legends of the barren-ground grizzly, the outlook of a young Athapaskan chief, and tales of the fortitude of settlers―ordinary people compelled by extraordinary dreams. Coming into the Country unites a vast region of America with one of America's notable literary craftsmen, singularly qualified to do justice to the scale and grandeur of the design.

TO THE WILDS OF ALASKA: A New Life in the Alaskan Wilderness (Growing Up Wild Book 1)

By Janette Ross Riehle

Janette Ross Riehle
Released: 2016-05-23
Kindle Edition (118 pages)

TO THE WILDS OF ALASKA: A New Life in the Alaskan Wilderness (Growing Up Wild Book 1)
Product Description:
They lived off-the-grid, long before there was a grid. And while they weren’t survivalists they survived, and even thrived, for months at a time in the subarctic wilderness without electricity, telephones, indoor plumbing or ready access to medical services.
Sylvia, an attractive, strong-minded 14-year-old who loved the outdoors, came to Alaska with her family in 1934, hoping to escape the despair and poverty of the Depression years in southern Oregon. Although their first winter on a forested 160-acre homestead was spent in a log cabin without windows or a floor, it was still better than back in Oregon where things were tough.
Three years later, while working at a fish cannery in Anchorage, Sylvia came to the notice of a good-looking, good-natured young man who had spent the previous two winters on the remote Yentna River with his older brother. Vernon was looking for a wife to move to the wilderness with him and immediately decided that she was the one.
Six weeks later they were married and ready to begin their life together in a world that no longer exists—a world of sled dogs, moose meat, fresh trout, snowshoes, outboard motors and wooden dories. They worked hard and faced many dangers, but enjoyed their life depending largely on their own resources and on each other.
While written for the general public, this book, as well as the other three in the series, is also suitable for older children who are interested in how families lived in earlier times and in far different circumstances than their own. The later books are written in part from the perspective of the children, as well as that of their parents.

National Geographic Treasures of Alaska: The Last Great American Wilderness (National Geographic Destinations)

By Jeff Rennicke

Brand: National Geographic
Released: 2010-01-19
Paperback (200 pages)

National Geographic Treasures of Alaska: The Last Great American Wilderness (National Geographic Destinations)
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This new look at Alaska as the destination for wilderness experience in America celebrates the many lives and unique landscapes that make up the vast and storied land. The book captures Alaska’s splendor with an astonishing combination of prose and photographs—from mountain ranges glittering with glaciers to lush forests and wetlands teeming with wildlife to fjords exploding with the barks of seals.

Visiting the places and people whose natures are true to the spirit of this still wild frontier, Rennicke and Melford follow a dogsled team up a frozen mountain river in search of an Alaskan Eden; hike along active volcanoes that brim and boil in the Aleutian Islands; summit Mount McKinley with a double-amputee bush pilot in a triumph of spirit and determination over the mountain that almost killed him; and journey back through Alaska’s human history, to the times of the Gold Rush miners, totem pole carvers, and nomadic hunters who crossed the Bering Land Bridge and discovered a new land.

From grizzlies to glaciers, gold fields to ice fields, fishing boats to northern lights, Treasures of Alaska uncovers the wild heart and the endless challenge that make Alaska a land of enduring beauty and undying dreams.

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