Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth-Century New England: A Documentary History, 1638-1693 / Edition 2

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

This documentary collection details the history of witch-hunting in 17th-century New England, beginning in 1638 through the 1692 Salem witch trials, and the 1693 Stamford-Fairfield, Connecticut witch-hunt. Hall (American religious history, Harvard Divinity School) provides an introduction to the history of witch-hunting in New England, discussing its lore, the gendered nature of the hunts, and the social and economic issues at stake. He also introduces each group of documents, providing specifics about the characters and the background to the case. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822336136
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 378
  • Sales rank: 366,303
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David D. Hall is Bartlett Professor of New England Church History at the Harvard Divinity School. His books include Puritans in the New World: A Critical Anthology; Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England; and Antinomian Controversy, 1636–1638: A Documentary History, published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition 1
Introduction 3
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
Selective Bibliography 359
Index 365
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2009

    A Bewitching Record of New England History

    "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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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