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This superb documentary collection illuminates the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting in seventeenth-century New England. The cases examined begin in 1638, extend to the Salem outbreak in 1692, and document for the first time the extensive Stamford-Fairfield, Connecticut, witch-hunt of 1692–1693. Here one encounters witch-hunts through the eyes of those who participated in them: the accusers, the victims, the judges. The original texts tell in vivid detail a multi-dimensional story that conveys not only the process of witch-hunting but also the complexity of culture and society in early America. The documents capture deep-rooted attitudes and expectations and reveal the tensions, anger, envy, and misfortune that underlay communal life and family relationships within New England’s small towns and villages.
Primary sources include court depositions as well as excerpts from the diaries and letters of contemporaries. They cover trials for witchcraft, reports of diabolical possessions, suits of defamation, and reports of preternatural events. Each section is preceded by headnotes that describe the case and its background and refer the reader to important secondary interpretations. In his incisive introduction, David D. Hall addresses a wide range of important issues: witchcraft lore, antagonistic social relationships, the vulnerability of women, religious ideologies, popular and learned understandings of witchcraft and the devil, and the role of the legal system. This volume is an extraordinarily significant resource for the study of gender, village politics, religion, and popular culture in seventeenth-century New England.
|Preface to the Second Edition||1|
|Guide to Sources and Abbreviations||17|
|1.||The Early Cases (1638-1651)||19|
|2.||The Parsons of Springfield: A Family at Odds (1651-1652)||29|
|3.||Suspicion: A Widow's Resistance (1653-1655)||61|
|4.||The High Price of Silence (1654)||74|
|5.||A Handful of Troublemakers (1652-1661)||87|
|6.||A Long-Running Feud (1656-1675)||99|
|7.||One Man's Many Accusers (1658-1669)||115|
|8.||Mother and Daughter: The Holmans of Cambridge (1659-1660)||134|
|9.||The Hartford Witch-hunt (1662-1665)||147|
|10.||A Father's Battle (1666-1667)||164|
|11.||One "Cunning Woman": At Odds With All (1668-1670)||170|
|12.||Three Ambiguous Cases (1669-1681)||185|
|13.||A Servant "Possessed" (1671-1672)||197|
|14.||Vehement Suspicion: Eunice Cole of Hampton (1656-1680)||213|
|15.||Two Grandparents, One Grandson, and a Seaman (1679-1681)||230|
|16.||The Strange Death of Philip Smith (1683-1684)||260|
|17.||The "Possession" of the Goodwin Children (1688)||265|
|18.||The Salem Witch-hunt (1692)||280|
|19.||The Stamford-Fairfield Witch-hunt (1692-1693)||315|
|Appendix||The Hartford Witch-hunt: Additional Texts||355|
Posted November 15, 2009
"Witch Hunting in Seventh Century New England" is a fine display of historical documents concerning the New England witch trials of the 1600's. Long before the Salem trials of 1692, neighbor turned on neighbor for a variety of reasons, often ending in the death of the accused. In reading the statements of the accusers, it is often difficult to understand how supposedly learned men could take some of the accusations seriously, but that was another time.
Although the language can sometimes be difficult (these are direct transcriptions of court testimony),this is a must read for anyone interested in witchcraft, women's studies or history in general.