Russian America or Russkaia America

Russian America or Russkaia America
An exhibition that is dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of purchase of Alaska by the United States.

Russian America exhibit in Moffitt Library through December 2016

Where: Moffitt Library Gallery
When: September 2016 through December 2016

The discovery of Alaska by Vitus Bering in 1741 marked a new era in the expansion of Russian Empire eastwards. The “Russian America” was born in 1784, when on Kodiak Island, Grigory Shelikhov, a Russian fur trader, founded the Three Saints Bay, the first permanent Russian settlement in Alaska. In 1808, under the charter from the Czar, the Russian-American company established a permanent settlement near today’s Sitka that was called “Novo-Arkhangel’sk”.  The Company, chartered in 1799, managed Russian America for the Imperial Government from that time until 1867 when the United States purchased what is now known as Alaska. The Company also established posts or conducted business in other Pacific Rim areas such as Siberia, Hawaii, and California; and attempted, unsuccessfully, to initiate trade with Japan.

The Sitka settlement was followed soon after by the foundation of the first Russian settlement in California in 1812, when the Fort Ross was founded as the southern-most outpost of the Russian-American company.  The term “Russkaia Kaliforniia or Russian California” is used to indicate Russian presence in California until the sale of the Fort Ross holdings in 1841 to Captain Sutter. Russian America continued to exist until the sale of the Alaska to the United States in 1867.

The exhibition highlights early Russian efforts to colonize North America using the trade and Russian Orthodoxy along with the Imperial expansion into California and finally ends with the purchase of Alaska by the United States. Several rare books on Aleuts, Russian trade in the region, Russian California along with the facsimile of the first Russian language newspaper in California-the Alaska Herald are exhibited.

Post submitted by:
Liladhar R. Pendse, PhD
Librarian for East European, Armenian, Caucasus, Central Asian, Balkan, Baltic,and Mongolian Studies