The Records of the Salem Witch Hunt

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Overview

This book represents the first comprehensive record of all legal documents pertaining to the Salem witch trials, in chronological order. Numerous newly discovered manuscripts, as well as records published in earlier books that were overlooked in other editions, offer a comprehensive narrative account of the events of 1692-93, with supplementary materials stretching as far as the mid - 18th century. The book may be used as a reference book or read as an unfolding narrative. All legal records are newly transcribed, and errors in previous editions have been corrected. Included in this edition is a historical introduction, a legal introduction, and a linguistic introduction. Manuscripts are accompanied by notes that, in many cases, identify the person who wrote the record. This has never been attempted, and much is revealed by seeing who wrote what, when.

Publication made possible with generous support by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
http://www.archives.gov/nhprc/index.html

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Few events of American history continue to grip our imagination as does the Salem witchcraft outbreak of 1692. This monumental new work of collaborative historical scholarship presents nearly a thousand legal documents relating to that outbreak, freshly edited with scrupulous care and introduced with a series of helpful essays. In this definitive assemblage of the episode’s legal records, human anguish, terror, confusion, and grim certitude constantly break through the legalese. Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt will be welcomed not only by legal scholars, linguists, American Colonial historians, and students of witchcraft, but by all who continue to be drawn to the dark events that unfolded in a New England village more than three centuries ago." -Paul Boyer, Co-author with Stephen Nissenbaum of Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft.

“Bernard Rosenthal and his exceptionally talented, international team of associate editors have produced the most comprehensive and carefully edited collection of legal documents from the Salem witch trials ever published. Unlike the three-volume collection of The Salem Witchcraft Papers, edited by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, who used the typescript prepared by the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal, the Rosenthal team has gone back to the original manuscripts and, in the process, corrected a number of serious errors of transcription. They have included more than thirty new documents either never published before or only printed in part. Unlike the earlier compilations that followed the practice of seventeenth-century courts in organizing the documents on a case-by-case basis in alphabetical order, this volume proceeds in chronological order, which permits the user to see on any given day how the larger crisis unfolded and how accusations against the victims were interrelated. Noting that scholars have disagreed sharply about the trials, Rosenthal declares that ‘This edition will not settle these differences, but if it succeeds it will give the reader the most comprehensive, most carefully and consistently transcribed record ever produced of the Salem witch trials, as well as a chronological ordering of the documents.’ His team has achieved this extraordinary goal.” -John Murrin, Princeton University

“Bernard Rosenthal and his international editorial team have produced an extraordinarily useful new edition of the Salem witch-trial records. Notable not only for its accurate transcriptions and revelatory chronological organization but also for its helpful general introductions and detailed annotations of individual documents, this volume will open new realms of inquiry to scholars and interested non-specialists alike. A truly remarkable editing achievement, it signals a great step forward in witchcraft studies.” -Mary Beth Norton, author of In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

"The Salem witch trials of 1692-1693 have fascinated scholars and the general public for generations, and this work will surely stimulate that interest. Editor Rosenthal and his associates have assembled in one volume all the known legal documents that are relevant to the trials....The arrangement of the documents in chronological order helps readers understand the sweep of the Salem witch episode. A comprehensive name index and biographical notes should prove helpful to readers interested in a case-study approach....This volume supplants The Salem Witchcraft Papers (1977)....Extensive notes and an excellent bibliography enhance the worth of this work, which belongs in all major public and university libraries. Summing Up: Essential." -Choice

"The witch trials held in Salem, Mass., in 1692 are among the major mythic experiences of the American psyche....These records are essential for any genealogist interested in northern New England. They provide explicit statements of relationships not found in other primary sources, as well as evidence from which scholars may infer the possibility of other family connections....This is a publication of the greatest significance that should be obtained by any individual and library interested in colonial New England and its history and geography." -The American Genealogist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521661669
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2009
  • Pages: 1010
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 2.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Rosenthal has written widely on American literature and culture. His monographs include City of Nature and Salem Story, and he has edited published volumes, including an updated edition of The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman, Jr. He is also the author of numerous articles and reviews. Rosenthal has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, one shared with Benjamin Ray, and a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission in support of this book. Rosenthal was also a Fulbright lecturer in 1996–-7 at Tampere University in Finland. Rosenthal edited this volume in collaboration with an international group of ten Associate Editors.
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Table of Contents

1. List of facsimile plates; 2. General introduction Bernard Rosenthal; 3. Legal procedures used during the Salem witch trials and a brief history of the published version of the records Richard Trask; 4. Linguistic introduction Peter Grund, Risto Hiltunen, Leena Kahlas-Tarkka, Merja Kytö, Matti Peikola and Matti Rissanen; 5. Editorial principles; 6. Chronological arrangement Bernard Rosenthal and Margo Burns; 7. List of the records of the Salem witch hunt; 8. The records; 9. Timeline: court of Oyer & Terminer and Superior Court of Judicature; 10. Biographical notes Marilynne K. Roach; 11. Works cited; 12. Acknowledgements; 13. Index.
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