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Ruth Cruger Murder: Topics in Chronicling America

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.


"Four photo poses of 17-year old Ruth ruger who mysteriously disappeared nine days ago." February 22, 1917. The Evening World (New York, NY), Image 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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, 1917Ruth Cruger disappears.
May 31, 1917Alfredo Cocchi, the man who owned the motorcycle repair store where Ruth Cruger was last seen, is located in Bologna, Italy.
June 18, 1917Ruth Cruger’s body found underneath the cellar of Alfredo Cocchi’s shop after Grace Humiston insists the police search the area.
June 23, 1919The trial of Alfredo Cocchi begins in Bologna.
August 9, 1919Trial delayed while awaiting Cocchi’s wife’s testimony.
October 25, 1920Second trial against Alfredo Cocchi begins in Bologna.
October 29, 1920Alfredo Cocchi found guilty of the murder of Ruth Cruger and sentenced to 27 years imprisonment.