Happy birthday this week to your hometown newspaper.

The Anacortes American printed its first issue 130 years ago on May 15, 1890.

Headlines in that inaugural publication included topics of the day — street improvements, the railroad and high praise for the beauty of Anacortes and Fidalgo Island.

The American was established by Douglass Allmond and Frederick H. Boynton before Anacortes officially became a city. Several other newspapers came and went here after that, but today only the Anacortes American remains.

“Greetings,” the founders wrote in the first issue. “… It is, perhaps, proper to state that the AMERICAN will be the organ of no class or corporation; that it is owned entirely by the undersigned, who, while they gratefully acknowledge the tender of substantial encouragement in the way of promised patronage, are under no obligations, financial or otherwise, to further personal or private interests as against those of the whole community. To publish an honest, independent, aggressive newspaper, that shall tell the story of our marvelous city and its surroundings, is the aim of its proprietors, and to accomplish this they expect the hearty support of all who have the welfare of our city at heart.”

Word choices and writing styles are a bit different these days, as anyone who reads our Looking Back history column would surely notice. 

Ownership has changed many times, but the goal of that statement in the first issue is every bit as true today.

This newspaper continues to exist because our community has always wanted an honest, independent newspaper that reports information truthfully and without obligation. We still expect the support “of all who have the welfare of our city at heart.” Just as in the beginning, our aim is “an honest, independent, aggressive newspaper” that tells this community’s stories.

The newspaper looks a little different these days, but I find it heartwarming to know that the values Allmond and Boynton so publicly touted in 1890 are just as relevant today — at least here in Anacortes and the Skagit Valley.

Thank you to this community for supporting this little hometown newspaper for 130 years.

If you’re interested in a look back at how things were done over a century ago, you can see early issues up until 1922 and then a batch from 1989 to 1996 online at washingtondigitalnewspapers.org.


 — Editor Colette Weeks

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