The disappearance and murder of Ruth Cruger increased doubt about the safety of young women in America. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Ruth Cruger Murder” 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.
Ruth Cruger was an eighteen year old girl who went to the store to get her skates sharpened and was never seen again. In the search that followed, many accused the police of neglecting the case, fears of white slavery surfaced, and Ruth’s parents hired a private detective referred to as Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. After Ruth’s body was found beneath the cellar of Alfredo Cocchi’s shop, he was arrested and tried twice in Italy – his home country that refused to extradite him. This case captivated the attention of the nation and raised serious doubts about the safety of young women in America. 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.
February 13, 1917
Ruth Cruger disappears.
May 31, 1917
Alfredo Cocchi, the man who owned the motorcycle repair store where Ruth Cruger was last seen, is located in Bologna, Italy.
June 18, 1917
Ruth Cruger’s body found underneath the cellar of Alfredo Cocchi’s shop after Grace Humiston insists the police search the area.
June 23, 1919
The trial of Alfredo Cocchi begins in Bologna.
August 9, 1919
Trial delayed while awaiting Cocchi’s wife’s testimony.
October 25, 1920
Second trial against Alfredo Cocchi begins in Bologna.
October 29, 1920
Alfredo Cocchi found guilty of the murder of Ruth Cruger and sentenced to 27 years imprisonment.