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Overview

This unique microfilm collection brings together the written histories and interpretations of witchcraft occurrences in New England from 1648 through the early twentieth century. The subject of witchcraft will be forever tied to New England in American minds. Researchers in every generation since have been fascinated by the old trial records and attempts at explaining the hysteria that gripped New England's residents during the late 1600s.

The collection touches on witchcraft incidents throughout New England and North America during colonial times. However, the majority of materials surround the most famous and well-documented witch-hunt in history--that of Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1692.

This collection brings together over 60 works representing some 7,000 pages of information gleaned from the Salem Village Witchcraft Collection maintained by the Danvers (Massachusetts) Archival Center. The microfilm edition provides a resource by which students and researchers can understand the events of the witchcraft outbreak and how these events have been interpreted by various writers and scholars from the time of the trials up to the 20th century. Included are:

  • early publications by contemporaries of the events in Salem, such as John Hale's 1702 work A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft
  • imprints directly concerning the trials, such as Thomas Hutchinson's 1767 History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay and Peleg Chandler's 1841 American Criminal Trials
  • full-length histories of the New England witchcraft outbreak including Charles Upham's 1831 Lectures on Witchcraft and his well-known 1867 two-volume work, Salem Witchcraft
  • sections from often-overlooked local publications and histories, such as History of the Town of Danvers (1848), by John W. Hanson
  • legal, moral, and psychological interpretations about the witchcraft hysteria outbreak
  • bibliographical materials on the period, including Justin Winsor's The Literature of Witchcraft in New England

The material in this collection was carefully selected by Richard B. Trask, curator at the Danvers Archival Center. The printed index accompanying the collection provides easy access to the film through a listing of reel and item numbers.

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