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Alfred Packer: Topics in Chronicling America

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.


Sketch of Alfred Packer. March 23, 1900. The Yale Expositor (Yale, MI), Image 5. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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.


April 1874 Alfred Packer cannibalizes his traveling companions.
March 1883 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.