These notes refer to the basic sources of evidence underlying the website's discussion and analysis. They are abbreviated, generally citing readily accessible documentary and secondary sources, rather than all the material that was consulted. Shortened citations refer to works that are listed in full in the Bibliography. Those seeking more specific or extensive documentation can find it in the notes contained in my three published essays found in the Bibliography.
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- "The Beginning." Contemporary reports provide the best evidence about the beginnings of the witch hunt. Rev. John Hale "A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft" and Robert Calef's "More Wonders of the Invisible World" are in Burr, ed., Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases. They are also found in Boyer and Nissenbaum, eds., Salem-Village Witchcraft. Samuel Parris's brief account of the activity in his household, including the baking of the witch cake, appears in the Records of the Salem Village Church, in Boyer and Nissenbaum, eds., Salem-Village Witchcraft, p. 278, as well as at the "Salem Witch Trials" website <http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/villgchurchrcrd.html>. There are many secondary accounts of the early period of the outbreak. The best place to start is Norton's In the Devil's Snare, pp. 15-30. Also useful is the interpretation in Boyer and Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed, particularly pp. 1-6, 22-27, though some details are properly corrected in Norton. The behavior of the afflicted girls has been a controversial subject, whether they were shamming, possessed, stricken by food poisoning, or something else. See, for example, Rosenthal, Salem Story; Starkey, The Devil in Massachusetts; Demos, "Underlying Themes"; Caporael, "Ergotism"; Spanos, and Gottlieb, "Ergotism and the Salem Village Witch Trials"; Carlson, A Fever in Salem; Ray, "Satan's War"; and Norton, In the Devil's Snare.
- "Salem Town and Village." Information about Salem Town in the seventeenth century can be found in Young, From "Good Order" to Glorious Revolution; Gildrie, Salem, Massachusetts: 1626-1683. Upham's classic Salem Witchcraft remains a key resource for learning about Salem Village. The best account of the emergence of the village as a parish of Salem Town is Boyer and Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed. Many documents relating to the establishment of the village and its administrative committee are in their Salem-Village Witchcraft.
- "The Salem Village Church." The early days of Salem Village's church is described in Upham, Salem Witchcraft and in Boyer and Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed. Both devote attention to the controversies that beset the village's first three ministers.
- "Samuel Parris." Gragg, A Quest for Security is most helpful for understanding Samuel Parris's career. Also useful is the discussion in Boyer and Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed as well as Parris's published sermons, in Sermon Notebook of Samuel Parris, edited by Cooper, Jr. and Minkema. See also Latner, “ ‘Here Are No Newters.'" To understand Puritan theology and the Half-Way Covenant, an excellent place to begin is Morgan, Visible Saints.
- "Salem Village Divided." Boyer and Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed is the basic source for Salem Village factionalism. Their edited volume, Salem-Village Witchcraft, contains essential documents relating to these divisions. Also useful are Gragg, The Salem Witch Crisis; and Ray, "Satan's War."
- "Accused Witches." Rosenthal, ed., Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, is now the definitive collection of legal records relating to Salem Witchcraft. Still useful is Boyer and Nissenbaum, The Salem Witchcraft Papers, which is readily available online at the "Salem Witch Trials" website. Information about the legal system and the various courts that tried witchcraft cases can be found in the separate introductory essays by Richard B. Trask and Bernard Rosenthal in Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt. Also valuable is Hoffer, The Salem Witchcraft Trials. The types of people who were suspected of witchcraft has received attention in Demos "Underlying Themes" and Entertaining Satan; Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman; Latner, "The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft"; and Norton, In the Devil's Snare. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials, contains a great deal of useful biographical information about the accused as well as others involved in the Salem outbreak.
- "Chronology of Accusations." Roach, The Salem Witch Trials, is an essential resource for studying Salem Witchcraft. It chronicles the outbreak on a day-by-day basis, showing the sequence of events, including accusations and executions.
- "Execution Chronology." While Salem Witchcraft is unique in terms of its scale in American history, witchcraft and magic were familiar to colonial Americans, both as concepts and practices. Godbeer's The Devil's Dominion, and two books by Demos, The Enemy Within and Entertaining Satan are excellent guides to understanding witchcraft and magic in early American history. For English sixteenth and seventeenth-century witch beliefs, see Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic; Thomas's book offers great insight into the Salem event.
- "Execution Discussion." Helpful discussions of the downturn in accusations following the trial and execution of Bridget Bishop, the temporary recess of the Court of Oyer and Terminer, and the consultation of New England ministers is found in Norton, In the Devil's Snare, particularly pp. 196-219; Gragg, The Salem Witch Crisis; Latner, "The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft"; Boyer and Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed; Rosenthal, Salem Story; and Werking, '"'Reformation Is Our Only Preservation.'" An excellent discussion distinguishing between bewitchment and possession in the afflicted accusers is Harley, "Explaining Salem." Governor Phips's own explanation for his actions can be found in Burr, ed., Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, and online at the "Salem Witch Trials" website. For October's decline in accusations and turnaround in public opinion regarding the trials, consult the sources above as well as the accounts by Hale and Calef in Burr, ed., Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases.
- "Andover Accusations." Andover has not received the attention it merits as the locale of the largest number of accusations and confessions in 1692. For Andover's involvement, see Hansen, "Andover Witchcraft and the Causes of the Salem Witchcraft Trials"; Starkey, The Devil in Massachusetts; Latner, “ ‘Here Are No Newters’: Witchcraft and Religious Discord in Salem Village and Andover”; Norton, In the Devil's Snare; and Abbott, Our Company Increases Apace.
- "Andover's First Witchcraft Case." Martha Carrier is discussed in Robinson, The Devil Discovered, which contains considerable biographical information about the accused. Also helpful is Roach, The Salem Witch Trials.
- "Reading Accusations." Readings unusual pattern of accusations is discussed in Latner, "The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft."
- "The Landscape of Accusations." A fuller discussion of the geographic pattern of accusations as they spread from town to town is found in Latner, "The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft."
- "Witchcraft in Salem Village." The analysis of economic distinctions among Salem Villagers in Part III parallels the argument in Latner, "Salem Witchcraft, Factionalism, and Social Change Reconsidered." While the results of my analysis challenge the findings in Boyer and Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed, the broader purpose of this section (and of the website as a whole) is to stimulate critical historical thinking and to explore the benefits of quantitative analysis in understanding history. Therefore, users are encouraged to use the data provided in this section to rethink the question of whether economic distinctions in Salem Village might have contributed to the eruption of a witch hunt in 1692. For additional insight into this question, see Ray, "The Geography of Witchcraft Accusations in 1692 Salem Village" and "Satan's War against the Covenant in Salem Village, 1692."
- "The 1695 Parris Petitions." The pro- and anti-Parris petitions are transcribed in Boyer and Nissenbaum, eds., Salem-Village Witchcraft and are discussed in their book Salem Possessed.
- "Committee Partisanship." Documents relating to turnovers in committee membership are in Salem Village's Book of Record, in Boyer and Nissenbaum, eds., Salem-Village Witchcraft. See also their discussion in Salem Possessed. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials, tracks events in Salem Village after 1692, including the 1694 changes in committee membership. For Rev. Joseph Green's actions to heal Salem Village, see Salem Possessed, and Latner, “ ‘Here Are No Newters.’"
- "Wealth and Salem Village Conflict." In 2008, the William and Mary Quarterly recognized the continuing influence of Boyer and Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed by devoting an issue to it. See "Forum: Salem Repossessed," in William and Mary Quarterly 65 (2008): 391-534. While Boyer and Nissenbaum highlight the theme of Salem Village's clashing economic groups, they also provide insight into the village's religious and social divisions.
- "1690 Rank and Percentile." Using rank and percentile analysis allows for more precision in defining categories like "rich," "poor," or "middling." For example, the standard for the "rich" can be set at the top 10% of taxpayers. One problem with Salem Possessed is its imprecision about class. For example, in discussing the allegiance of the "poorer men of the Village" to the the pro-Parris faction, its standard for "poorer" is defined as "those taxed at under ten shillings" (p. 82). While it is true that those paying under ten shillings were poorer than those paying more than ten shillings, rank and percentile analysis of the village's 1695 tax list reveals that those assessed nine shillings were in the top 51% of all village taxpayers. In other words, middling villagers are included in Boyer and Nissenbaum's classification of "poorer."
- "1681 Tax List." Methodologically, Salem Possessed attempts to analyze a historic change that occurred over a period of time (a diachronic approach) by relying primarily on the analysis of data at one moment in time (a synchronic approach).
- "Conclusions." Many of these conclusions are elaborated in Latner, “ ‘Here Are No Newters’"; "Salem Witchcraft, Factionalism, and Social Change Reconsidered"; and "The Long and Short of Salem Witchcraft." The questions of who was primarily responsible for the Salem witch hunt as well as what underlying concerns provoked it remain staples of Salem Witchcraft studies. In emphasizing the importance of religion as a contributor both to Salem Village's factionalism and to the witch hunt of 1692, I do not undervalue other approaches. No single insight will explain an event as complex as the Salem outbreak. The readings in the Bibliography provide an entryway into the vast literature of Salem and witchcraft.
To consult the Bibliography, click Next or select Bibliography in the navigation menu.