In 1874, newspapers reported Alfred Packer cannibalizing his travel companion.This guide provides access to materials related to “Alfred Packer” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
Alfred Packer (1842-1907), also known as the “Man Eater” or “Colorado Cannibal,” was a guide who accompanied five prospectors on a mountain voyage from Utah to Colorado in the winter of 1873-1874. The party soon ran out of food, and, fueled by starvation, Packer reportedly killed and consumed the flesh of his companions. The incident was considered one of the most brutal, controversial, and outrageous occurrences of the 19th century. Did the circumstances justify Packer’s means? Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
Alfred Packer cannibalizes his traveling companions.
After nine years of hiding, Packer is found, arrested, and sent to Denver to be tried.
April 13, 1883
Packer is pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
November 18, 1885
Packer’s death sentence is overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court.
August 19, 1886
Packer is sentenced to forty years in prison (eight for each victim).
January 8, 1901
Packer is granted Parole by the Colorado Governor.
April 24, 1907
Packer the “Man Eater” dies at a ranch near Denver.