The term "Algic" was first coined by Henry Schoolcraft in his Algic Researches, published in 1839. Schoolcraft defined the term as "derived from the words Alleghany and Atlantic, in reference to the indigenous people anciently located in this geographical area." Schoolcraft's terminology was not retained. The peoples he called "Algic" were later included among the speakers of Algonquian languages.
When Edward Sapir proposed that the well-established Algonquian family was genetically related to the Wiyot and Yurok languages of northern California, he applied the term Algic to this larger family. The Algic urheimat is thought to have been located in the Northwestern United States somewhere between the suspected homeland of the Algonquian branch (to the west of Lake Superior according to Goddard) and the earliest known location of the Wiyot and Yurok (along the middle Columbia River according to Whistler).