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Washington standard. [volume] : (Olympia, Wash. Territory) 1860-1921
Alternative Titles:
  • Twice-a week Washington standard Mar. 3, 1920-Jan. 28, 1921
Place of publication:
Olympia, Wash. Territory
Geographic coverage:
  • Olympia, Thurston, Washington  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
John M. Murphy
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 17, 1860)-v. 61, no. 40 (Sept. 23, 1921).
Semiweekly 1921
  • English
  • Olympia (Wash.)--Newspapers.
  • Washington (State)--Olympia.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206098
  • Also availble on microfilm from Bell & Howell, Micro Photo Div.; Washington State Library; University of California.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Suspended Jan.-Apr. 1911.
  • Volumes for Nov. 12, 1864-<Dec 25, 1891> called also whole no. 209-<1669>.
sn 84022770
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Washington standard. [volume] November 17, 1860 , Image 1


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Washington Standard

The Washington Standard was first published in the city of Olympia, Washington, in November 1860, just seven years after the official incorporation of Washington Territory. As the first newspaper in the region, and because of its location as the territorial and state capitol, the Standard has a significant place in the history of westward expansion. The Washington Standard was founded by John Miller Murphy; the quintessential American pioneer, born on November 3, 1839, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Orphaned at just seven years old, Murphy moved to Cincinnati to live with an older sister, but within a few years, the family decided to travel west on the Oregon Trail. By the fall of 1850, they made it to Portland and remained there through the winter. During this time, Murphy attended grade school in Portland, one of the first grammar schools in the Pacific Northwest.

Like many other pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail, Murphy and his family had moved north by the spring of 1851. They settled in the city of Olympia, which at the time was considered a part of the northern section of Oregon Territory. This changed in 1853 when Washington Territory was incorporated, its southern boundary determined largely by the Columbia River. As a young man, Murphy returned to Portland in 1856 to work for the Oregon Weekly Times, beginning his lifelong career in newspaper publishing. By 1858, Murphy was promoted to foreman of the Democratic Standard, a post he held until the publication ceased in June 1859.

Murphy decided to move back to Washington Territory and settled in Vancouver. In June the following year, in a partnership with another newspaper publisher from California, John Miller Murphy founded his first paper, the Vancouver Chronicle. The partnership lasted barely a year, and Murphy left to found his own newspaper in Olympia. It was here that Murphy released the first issue of the Washington Standard on November 17, 1860. As an active member of the community, he served periodically in the territorial legislature (1863-74), including one session as territorial auditor. Later, Murphy served as the superintendent of schools and was known for founding the Olympia Theatre (1890).

By the late 1880s, Washington Territory was ready to apply to the federal government for statehood. As the territorial capitol, Olympia expected to be nominated as the state capitol. However, in the decades following the creation of Washington territory, settlement in Seattle and Vancouver had greatly increased, and both cities lobbied for the right to be the governing seat. The Washington Standard campaigned actively for Olympia. Murphy realized that the influence of the paper, with its weekly publication schedule, would be limited, so in 1889, he converted the Standard into a daily publication.

Washington attained statehood in 1889, but the fight for the selection of the state capitol continued until 1891 when Olympia was chosen after a referendum--the Washington Standard having played no small role in cultivating support for this decision. John Miller Murphy sold the Standard to Eagle Freshwater in 1912 after serving more than five decades as publisher. Freshwater sold the newspaper to J. M. Talbot in 1919. The Washington Standard finally ceased publication in 1921.

Provided by: Washington State Library; Olympia, WA