The Russian Press
The Russian-language press in the United States had its beginning over a century ago, as early as 1868. It appeared in the West with the first settlements of Russians in Alaska and along the Pacific coast. These settlements were a "part of the steady eastward expansion of the Russian Empire through the steppes and tundra of Siberia to the Pacific Coast, led by fur traders and seal hunters interested in finding pelts and skins for their Russian and European markets." 1 However, this venture proved to be unprofitable, and in 1867 Alaska was sold to the United States. About half of the Russians returned home; many of the others moved to California. 2
It is only when Russians began to arrive in larger numbers in the 1880s on the East Coast that we begin to see the serious appearance of the Russian-language press. With New York as the center and lifeline of the Russian community around the turn of the century, the Russian-language press began its long and checkered history.
The first Russian newspaper in America was the bilingual Svoboda-The Alaska Herald ( San Francisco, 1868- 1873), published by a Ukrainian priest, Agapius Honcharenko. Its Russian articles attempted to inspire sympathy among the larger public for the anti-tsarist movement in Russia. 3
The Alaska Herald was subsidized by the United States government in an effort to Americanize Alaska's Russian immigrant populace quickly. Its first four issues, appearing in March and April 1868, "satisfied the requirements of Honcharenko's subsidy: the first two issues contained translations into Russian of the United States Constitution." 4 However, Honcharenko's relations with the United States government became strained due to his criticism of it. As a result the government stopped subsidizing The Alaska Herald and Honcharenko was forced to seek financial aid elsewhere. Nevertheless, Honcharenko managed to publish The Alaska Herald until 1873.
During the 1890s a number of short-lived socialist and radical Russian newspapers appeared, such as Znamia (The banner; New York, 1889-1892) and Progress ( New York and Chicago, 1893-1894), which called for revolutionary