1899-1914 editions of San Juan Islander newspaper now available online

The final edition of the San Juan Islander, dated May 29, 1914. Editions of the newspaper, from 1899 to 1914, are now available online. - National Digital Newspaper Program
The final edition of the San Juan Islander, dated May 29, 1914. Editions of the newspaper, from 1899 to 1914, are now available online.
— image credit: National Digital Newspaper Program

The San Juan Islander, a newspaper that published in Friday Harbor from 1891 to 1914, is now available online.

The newspaper is among nine newspapers — and more than 50,000 historic newspaper pages — recently contributed to Chronicling America, making Washington state’s contribution to the program a total of 16 titles and 92,000 pages.

Chronicling America is a project of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

Originally published as The Islander in 1891, the San Juan Islander changed hands several times over the years. After the Culver brothers purchased the paper in 1896, they declared their membership in the Republican Party and changed the name of the paper to the San Juan Islander in 1898. As the inhabitants of the region were mostly farmers and fishermen, much of the paper was devoted to news of farmers' cooperatives, commodity prices, new agricultural production methods, and the movements of shipping vessels. The paper was eventually sold to John N. Dickie of Seattle in 1913 and ceased publication in 1914. People can read and research issues from this and other newspapers around Washington and U.S. for free at

“These historic newspapers are a rich resource for historians, genealogists and other researchers,” State Librarian Jan Walsh said in a press release. “They provide names, dates, images and tell the story of a community or region in such a comprehensive way. They bring local history alive.”

The San Juan Graphic, established by Frank P. Baum in 1890, is believed to be the first newspaper published in the San Juan Islands. It ceased publication in 1891. The San Juan Islander was established that year. Friday Harbor became a two-newspaper town on Sept. 13, 1906 with the founding of The Friday Harbor Journal, which is now The Journal of the San Juan Islands.

After the Islander folded, its bound and loose editions were acquired by The Journal. The Journal donated those editions, as well as The Journal's bound editions dating to 1906, to the San Juan Historical Museum in 2002., an online news site founded in 1999 by two former Journal employees, was named after the historical newspaper.

Chronicling America provides free and open access to more than 2.3 million full-text searchable pages from 295 titles published between 1860 and 1922 in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The Washington State Library’s National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) grant was recently renewed through June of 2012, allowing more pages from other newspapers around Washington State to be uploaded over the next two years.

“It’s exciting to have this collection in Chronicling America,” Deputy State Librarian Marlys Rudeen said in a press release. “It will give researchers the ability to search across multiple collections of newspapers from various states at once.”

Part of the mission and purpose of the Washington State Library is to collect, preserve and make accessible to Washingtonians materials on the government, history, culture and natural resources of the state.

Newspapers from Washington state currently included in Chronicling America are Cayton’s Weekly, 1917-1921; Colfax Gazette, 1900-1912; Colville Examiner, 1907-1922; Commonwealth (Everett), 1911-1914; Daily Republican (Seattle), 1896; Leavenworth Echo, 1904-1922; Pullman Herald, 1888-1922; The Ranch (Yakima), 1894; The Ranch (Seattle), 1902-1914; Ranche and Range (Yakima), 1897-1902; The Republican (Seattle), 1896-1898; San Juan Islander, 1899-1914; Seattle Republican, 1900-1913; Tacoma Times, 1903-1918; Washington Farmer (Spokane), June 15, 1914; and Yakima Herald, 1893-1912.

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