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Jack the Ripper: Topics in Chronicling America

In the 19th century, murders accrediated to Jack the Ripper lead to widespread panic, mass hysteria, and copy-cats. This guide provides access to material related to "Jack the Ripper" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Jack the Ripper's Mark." April 25, 1891. The Sun (New York, NY), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In 1888, a mysterious criminal from the streets of London became a household name. Jack The Ripper haunted the narrow streets and back alleys of the Whitechapel district, preying on vulnerable women. When the news traveled to the United States, it created mass hysteria, and inspired many copycat killings. Though police worked hard to find the culprit, and many men stepped forward claiming to be the infamous "Whitechapel Fiend", Jack the Ripper's true identity was never discovered. Read on to discover how Jack the Ripper terrified the World. 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.


November 23, 1888 A letter received from "Jack the Ripper's pal" states that the two are responsible for the recent Whitechapel murders.
December 17, 1888 A man falsely claiming to be Jack the Ripper is arrested for assaulting a woman.
December 21, 1888 Another woman is murdered by Jack the Ripper.
December 26, 1888 A murderer in Philadelphia copies the crimes of Jack the Ripper.
December 27, 1888 Several in Brussels, including King Leopold, receive telegrams announcing that Jack the Ripper will strike in Belgium.
January 5, 1889 Hysteria spreads among the women of London at the Ripper's evasion of the police.
October 24, 1890 Another woman is killed by Jack the Ripper.
April 25, 1891 New York police believe Jack the Ripper is responsible for a recent murder based on the eyewitness description of the perpetrator.