Table of contents for The Salem witch trials / Laura Marvel, book editor.

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Introduction                                     11
Chapter 1: Why a Witch-Hunt in Salem in 1692?
1. Theological and Political Conditions Made
Salem Vulnerable by Richard Weisman            22
Anxiety about moral backsliding, tense negotia-
tions with England over a new charter for the
Massachusetts colony, and the intensified threat
of Indian attack produced a sense of instability
and fear by the early 1690s. The discovery of
witches in Salem in 1692 exacerbated the sense of
fear and failure in the colony.

2. Factional Politics Provoked the Crisis in
Salem Village by Bryan E LeBeau                30
The dispute between the Putnam family (who
supported Salem Village autonomy and Reverend
Samuel Parris) and the Porter family (who had
commercial ties to Salem Town and who chal-
lenged Reverend Parris's claim to the parsonage)
was a major part of the Salem witch crisis. Mem-
bers of the Putnam family actively identified,
accused, and testified against numerous

3. The Salem Witch-Hunt Was Driven by a
Conspiracy by Enders A. Robinson               37
The Salem witch-hunt was not a product of mass
hysteria but the work of an organized group of
conspirators and their dependents. The chief
conspirators included the extended Putnam family,
the Parris family, and the Griggs family.

4. Devilish Hypocrites in the Church
by Samuel Parris                               43
In a sermon delivered on March 27, 1692, Rev-
erend Samuel Parris compared church members
who might be in league with the Devil to Judas,

the betrayer of Christ, thus fueling suspicion in
the community.

5. Reverend Samuel Parris Triggered the
Witch-Hunt by Larry Gragg                        46
Reverend Parris's reactions to the alarming
behaviors exhibited by his daughter, his niece,
and their friends produced fear and suspicion in
Salem Village. Parris created an atmosphere of
crisis by convening large group prayers and fasts
and by preaching that prosperous church mem-
bers as well as derelicts and outcasts could be witches.

6. Tituba's Testimony Exacerbated the
Witch-Hunt by Elaine G. Breslaw                  55
The testimony of Reverend Parris's West Indian
servant, Tituba, confirmed the community's fear
that the Devil was active in Massachusetts and
powerful enough to corrupt clergymen as well as
the most prosperous members of the community.

Chapter 2: What Motivated the "Afflicted" Girls?

1. The Girls Were Consummate Actresses
by Charles W. Upham                              66
The accusing girls were not really afflicted by
witches. They were play-acting, first to gain
attention and later to avoid being condemned for
false accusations.

2. Hysteria and Fear of Witchcraft Afflicted
the Girls by Chadwick Hansen                     72
The girls were not bewitched, but they thought
they were. They were actually suffering from
clinical hysteria, and their convulsions were psy-
chosomatic responses to the fear that they were
being afflicted by witches.

3. The Putnam Family's Accusations:
A Case of Psychological Projection
by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum             79
The core group of "afflicted" females was from
the family of Thomas Putnam Jr. The series of
accusations made by this group reveals an obses-
sive desire to eliminate psychological equivalents

of Mary Veren Putnam, whom they considered
responsible for their declining economic fortunes.

4. The Girls' Possession Was a Response to
Stifling Social Conditions by Carol E Karlsen    87
The girls' behavior reveals the tension between
their desire to conform to Puritan norms and
their discontent with restrictive gender and social

5. The Girls Were Bewitched by Cotton Mather       95
Boston minister Cotton Mather, who had studied
witchcraft and possession cases for years, consid-
ered the girls bewitched. He also believed that
those convicted of witchcraft were in fact guilty
of afflicting the girls.

Chapter 3: Why Would the Innocent Confess?

1. The Psychological Pressure to Confess
During the Hearings
by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum            100
Several innocent people confessed to being
witches during the hearings because of intense
psychological pressure. Confessions released the
afflicted girls from their painful convulsions and
were interpreted as genuine efforts to achieve
reconciliation with the community.

2. Confessions Elicited in the Jails by Larry Gragg 106
Some innocent people were harassed into confes-
sion by fellow inmates in the jails; others were
coerced by magistrates and ministers during long
hours of interrogation. Family and friends were
most successful since they urged confession as the
safest way to avoid execution.

3. A Word of Caution About the Validity of
Confessions by Mary Easty                       113
In a petition to Governor Phips, convicted witch
Mary Easty proclaimed her innocence and urged
the governor to question separately the afflicted
girls and the confessing witches, whom she feared
had lied in court.

4. The Use of Torture to Elicit Confessions
by John Proctor                                115
John Proctor, who had been arrested for witch-
craft, wrote from Salem prison to five ministers
claiming that torture had been used on at least
three young men to extort confessions.

5. Giles Corey's Silent Indictment of the Court
by David C. Brown                              117
Arrested as a witch, Giles Corey refused to stand
trial, perhaps to express his contempt for a court
which condemned to death all who claimed inno-
cence. For "standing mute" the eighty-one-year-
old man was crushed beneath heavy rocks placed
on his chest one at a time, in a torture known as

6.Judge Samuel Sewall Confesses Shame and
Guilt by Samuel Sewall                         127
Samuel Sewall was the only judge who later made
a public statement about his culpability in the
Salem witch trials. In 1697 he acknowledged his
guilt as a member of the Court of Oyer and Ter-
miner and asked pardon for his sins.