This brief list offers select primary works used to analyze the events that took place during the Salem Witch Trails in the 17th century. Some of the books were written during or shortly after the events; others were written decades later to analyze the events.
Boyer, Paul S.,Nissenbaum, Stephen. “Salem possessed the social origins of witchcraft.” 1974.Web.
This book was published as an effort in tapping into the Salem Witch Trials and documents. The writers believe that the wealth of information available since the trials has not been tapped into by recent historians. The book provides a chronology of events in Salem Village, beginning with the founding of the town in 1626 and up to 1752 when Salem became the independent town, Danvers. The book, mainly, focuses on the town and the families residing in Salem during the witch accusations. Additionally, the book includes maps of Salem, town and village, as well as land owners such as Putnam and Porters. In addition, the book contains charts regarding the size of Salem Village and land ownership, wealth, and other information relating to Salem and its citizens. The book offers an extensive amount of information on two families, Putnam and Porter; following their genealogy and history. It is a great addition for a research on the Salem Witch Trials as it provides a perspective on the people and the village during the outbreak of the witch accusations.
Boyer, Paul.,Nissenbaum, Stephen.,. Salem-Village Witchcraft: A Documentary Record of Local Conflict in Colonial New England. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1972. Print.
A historical record of the Salem Witch trials, this book is intended for scholars and students in history. The records are presented in a provocative form to allow students to investigate the social conflicts of that era. The book contains transcripts of five witch accusations. The transcript records were derived from the surviving documents on the Salem-Village witchcraft that were arranged in 1938 the Works Progress Administration. The trials of witchcraft cases included in this book are for Sara Good, Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, John Willard, George Burroughs and other testimonials. The trials of Sara Good are particularly interesting, as the book states, information regarding her life was not as easy to track. The records available on Sara Good include an invoice from Benjamin Browne to Sara Good, and also records of her father, John Solart, a dispute over his estate. The book also includes comments by outside authorities such as, Cotton Mather to John Foster, Governor William Phips to the Earl Nottingham and so on. The book also follows the accusers such as Samuel Parris, the Wilkins family, Putnam family and others. Additionally, the book provides an extensive amount of information regarding the history of Salem Village. The book does not dwell on the theological aspects during the witchcraft accusations, and only includes three sermons on Salem-Village Witchcraft. Additionally, the book does not cover the political aspects that caused the outbreak.
Mather, Cotton,, Mather, Increase,, Harry Houdini Collection (Library of Congress),. The Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of several Witches Lately Executed in New-England. London: John Russell Smith, 1862. Print.
The book, composed by Cotton and Increase Mather, follow the events in Salem-Village. The witch trial accusations transcribed through the lens of the puritans at that time. The book is divided into 6 sections; the first section contains the author’s defense, letters and encounters. The second section follows the discourse on the supernatural world. The section includes trials and narratives and several curiosities. Curiosities, as sampled in the book, appear to be statements of witchcraft and curious behavior. The third section provides accounts of temptations from the “Devil”. When reading these accounts one must keep in mind that they were written in 1862 and devils and spirits were commonly discussed and feared by most puritans. The remainder of the book discusses different accounts and trials of witchcraft. The book is great as it provides a window to the world of the puritans to experience and understand their rational during the Salem Witch Trials. Using examples from scriptures, and different argumentative reasoning for the supernatural occurrences.
Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions. Printed at Boston in N. England: by R.P., 1689, sold by Joseph Brunning …, 1689. Print.
Cotton Mather, a key figure in the Salem Witch Trials, wrote this book on an account of an episode of witchcraft revolving around Goody Glover. The book was published in 1689 and is available on microfilm at Kent State University’s library. The year of publication and the copy available online makes it difficult to read, but it does provide an interesting insight to the 17th century ideology in America. Cotton Mather begins the book explaining that the episodes mentioned in the book are either witnessed by him, or observed by others and passed on to him. There are accounts of witchcraft reported to him by fathers’ of children and different members of the community. The episodes of witchcraft that Mather sights are narrated in an anecdote form. There are over 7 examples of witchcraft in the book. Additionally, he explains witchcraft and other forms of devil’s work. If conducting research on Salem-Village or the Salem Witch Trials, this book would be a good place to start. The book offers encounters and examples transcribed from the people who initiated or help initiate the trials.
Seabrook, William,,. Witchcraft, its Power in the World Today. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1940. Print.
The author of this book states that the book is factual and the people and places mentioned in the book are real. The book, the author states, is addressed to rational readers who do not believe in witchcraft and black magic. The author argues that the witchcraft and power that most see and believe is not supernatural, however, witchcraft relies on psychology to perform their craft. Part one in the book follows the witches and their dolls. The chapter follows the history of dolls and their role in witchcraft, and different uses for these dolls. The author discusses incidents and encounters with dolls and witchcraft. In part two, the book covers vampires and werewolves. The author identifies the differences between the factitious or supernatural image of a vampire and a werewolf and the reality. The author explains the behavior of such individuals in terms of psychology. This book might be interesting to read, however, this book does not provide information for a scholarly research. Aside from historical, geographical background on witchcraft the book’s information and argument seem very dated for the most part.
Phillis Wheatley arrived to Boston as a child and sold to John Wheatley to assist his wife. Although misfortune brought Phillis Wheatley from West Africa to Boston, she was still fortunate enough to have masters who took the time to educate her. Phillis received an education perhaps even better than most free woman in Boston. Because of her unique situation with the Wheatley family, Phillis Wheatley’s life and work cannot be viewed entirely as slave poetry. Her fortunate circumstances were the cause of some ridicule in terms of her poetry and the topics about which she wrote. She received mixed reviews from both the European Americans and African-Americans.
Phillis Wheatley was an anomaly. Not many slaves in 18th century America were educated enough to read, let alone compose poetry. However, when reading Phillis Wheatley’s poetry it is easy for readers not to ponder over the fact that she was just a slave when she wrote her poems. The topics she chose to write about all allude to a well-educated, well read woman, in fact, Wheatley, was all of that and a slave to the Wheatley family. Her poetic style has often received mixed reviews because her topics do not dwell on slavery and often resemble the classical style of poetry. Critics tend to judge Wheatley’s poetry based on her situation as a slave. They either praise or condemn her poems based on her roots. According to Thomas Jefferson, “Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry . . . Religion, indeed has produced a Phyllis Whately [sic]; but it could not produce a poet” (Applegate, 125).
When reading her poetry, I find that it is difficult to determine her race, the topics she chose were far removed from the situation of most fellow African slaves of her time. However, in poems such as “On Being Brought From Africa to America” she believes that she was saved on that journey from Africa. “’T Was mercy brought me from my pagan land” (L1) Wheatley remembers Africa, but finds it unsaved by God. Her devotion to God allows her to be grateful for her life, even as a slave. She viewed her self blessed to have been chosen as a slave and removed from her pagan lands. Additionally, you can sense her devotion to God in her poem “On the Death of a Young Lady of Five Years of Age” she consoles the parents of that child and reassures them that she has gone to the lord. “This know, ye parents, nor her loss deplore, She feels the iron hand of pain no more” (5-6) she sees beyond the physical body, this is one of the reasons why her poetry seem not to discuss the issues of slavery. Wheatley was around the same age as the girl in the poem when she was snatched away from her parents. However, her devotion to God, allows her to accept her situation and not lament it.
Phillis Wheatley may not have focused entirely on Africans and slavery when writing her poetry, however, by writing poetry comparable to her European American contemporaries she proves that the African intellect is equal to and no less than the European American intellect. The poetry she writes does not desert her roots but reiterate her abilities as an intellectual. Critics, such as Devona Mallory, explain that Phillis Wheatley’s uses classicism in her poetry as a method to present her motherland and her roots to the whites using themes that her white readers can relate and understand. Mallory argues that Wheatley uses poetry as a means to express her thoughts freely cloaked with imagery and illusions from Greek and Latin studies (Shields). To judge her solely as an imitator of other great poets is unfair. To judge her as a traitor to the African slaves is equally unfair. Suffice it to say that, Phillis Wheatley managed to get the attention of slave owners, critics and politicians through her poetry.
Applegate, Anne. “Phillis Wheatley: Her Critics and Her Contribution.” Negro American Literature Forum 9.4 (1975): 123-6. Print.
Shields, John C.,, Lamore,Eric D.,. New Essays on Phillis Wheatley. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2011. Print.
Wheatley, Phillis,, Odell,Margaretta Matilda.,. The Poems of Phillis Wheatley : With Letters and a Memoir. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2010. Print.
One of the major works that helped shape and influence people’s opinion on slavery was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; however, throughout her writing career she has managed to publish over 30 books with topics ranging from children’s books, biographies and theology. Stowe came from a family that expected their children to influence and shape the world. Stowe found that, through writing, she could discuss and question the injustice on human slavery of her time. Although Uncle Tom’s Cabin remains as one of her most read works, her life remains as influential as her work especially considering she was writing in a period where women had very little rights as citizens.
A good research tool to consider when conducting a research on Harriet Beecher Stowe is the American National Biography Online (ANB). The ANB provides biographies; portraits and contents related to the most influential people who have helped shape the United States. Over 18700 biographies are available and are published under the Oxford University Press. The database formats its contents based on chronology. Biographies discussing individuals will follow the events from birth to the present (or death) of the individual. Each article contains a list of bibliography and primary sources that can be useful as a guide for scholars. The Harriet Beecher Stowe biography on the ANB provides historical background on Stowe. It offers information on her life, as well as, family members and influential individuals in her life. The biography concludes with a bibliography that can guide scholars to the most extensive resources on Stowe and her works. It lists the libraries, Universities, and organizations that hold her collections. The ANB is a good starting point for any research topic on influential individuals in America as it helps guide scholars to the most relevant and extensive collections available.
The “Harriet Beecher Stowe Center” offers an immense amount of information regarding Stowe’s work and life. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center has an extensive collection of material related to Stowe and her family; however, it is not accessible via the website and can be viewed at the center in Hartford, CT. The website contains the text of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in its original form released in The National Era. The text includes commentaries by different scholars. The website lists the impact Stowe’s book had on the public. Her book was highly influential to the point that it is believed that Abraham Lincoln approached Stowe saying “[s]o you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war” (web). Additionally, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center offers school programs for those interested in learning more about the life of Stow.
Another website that specializes in Stowe’s life and work is titled “Uncle Tom’s Cabin & American Culture” hosted by the University of Virginia. The website is divided into three different modes. The browse modes allows scholars to access, one at a time, the primary material from text, images, or film clips. As for the search mode, this mode allows scholars to browse all the materials at once. The last mode, the interpret mode, includes secondary material such as essays by different scholars; it also includes a timeline that can benefit both teachers and students. The timeline provided in the interpret mode gives a good insight on the life of Stowe and the impact Uncle Tom’s Cabin had on the American culture; as it includes historical moments as well as sound clips and movie clips of that period. The Browse mode includes texts and different editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as reviews and responses on the book.
There are many tools and databases to help refine the scholarly research; it is best to begin with the American National Biography to learn more about the author. The ANB is available for the public and can be easily accessed. However, other collections may not be as accessible, particularly the ones held at museums or organizations related to the author.
This short list of bibliography serves as a guide for scholars interested in developing research on the debates and impact Harriet Beecher Stowe had on the American culture after publishing her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The list ranges from digital databases that offer historical information on Stowe and her works to critical readings of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Bracher, Mark. “How to Teach for Social Justice: Lessons from Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Cognitive Science.” College English 71.4 (2009): 363-88. Print.
In this article, Mark Bracher, uses Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as an example of teaching social justice in a literature classroom. Bracher explains that Stowe relies on sympathy to promote social justice and she does that, through the rhetoric, she uses in the novel. Bracher mentions the drawbacks in evoking sympathy through fictional characters, as it may not always promote social justice among real people. He uses James Baldwin’s essay as an example of how protest novels can work against the writers and their intentions. Bracher follows the steps in which the novel takes to promote sympathy. He divides them into three steps; 1) reversing the stereotype 2) recognizing the human qualities in others 3) understanding human malleability. Bracher uses Stowe’s novel as an example for educators to use the novel to promote new scripts that can evoke sympathy for others. Bracher breaks down the strategies Stowe uses in her novel to evoke sympathy in her readers. This article is a great example of how literature can help promote social justice and make an impact on issues of injustice.
“C-SPAN American Writers: A Journey Through History” Web. 29 July 2013.
This website offers archives for scholars and educators and literary enthusiasts. The website provides information on the life and work of Harriet Beecher Stowe. The website also contains videos from C-SPAN that covers topics on the featured writers. The website links C-SPAN’s website for the videos provided, and when doing a search on c-spanvideo.org, a list of 18 videos related to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin were available. The video topics range from Stowe’s writing, book discussion, her life and her works, and more. The website does not go into detail on the life or works of each writer; however, they do provide lesson plans on each writer. The lesson plan guides educators to certain aspects to focus on when teaching the novel. It also provides links to chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, as well as the full text for Stowe’s The Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The plan provides questions and focuses on key points regarding the topics discussed in the novel. The website offers video clips to accompany the lesson plans, however, an attempt to view the videos was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the videos on c-spanvideo.org were easily accessible.
Lowance, Mason I.,, Westbrook, Ellen E.,, De Prospo,R.C.,,. “The Stowe debate rhetorical strategies in Uncle Tom’s cabin.” 1994.Web.
The book analyzes the form of rhetoric that Harriet Beecher Stowe uses in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is divided into four parts. The essays in part 1 cover the language used in the novel. Catherine O’Connell’s essay argues that Stowe replaces the religious rhetoric with sentimentality. As for Jan Pilditch’s essay, it follows the role of satire in the novel; Pilditch argues that Stowe uses humor as a strategy in her novel. Part 2 looks into the influence of domestic narrative and its discourse. The essays expand on the argument presented by O’Connell in the first part. The essays explore the discourse of sentimentality in women’s literature. They argue that Stowe uses these methods for the purpose of composing her novel. In Part 3, the essays analyze the influence of the Bible and the impact religious rhetoric had on Stowe’s argument in the novel, and her writing style. In part 4, the book focuses on issues such as gender and race that Stowe discusses in the novel. Additionally, the essays examine the stereotypes and characters presented in the novel. The book is a good source for those interested in developing a research related to the debates regarding Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
“Ohio Historical Society” Web. 29 July 2013.
Offers information on historical sites in Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society highlights significant sites in Ohio’s history, ranging from homes, memorials to nature preserves and much more. The website offers details on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s House in Cincinnati, Ohio and information on the house and what visitors can expect when visiting the museum. The house is significant because it serves as the prominent place that shaped Stowe’s views on slavery when she moved to Ohio with her family. The museum also contains a collection available to view at Stowe’s house; however, the website does not offer details on the collection available on site. Additionally, the website offers a digital archive collection and a digitization service. An online collections catalog is also available online and when searching the catalog for Harriet Beecher Stowe 138 items came up. In addition to the online catalog, users have the option to download, print/save or save as PDF. This service is a paid service that digitizes photographs, maps and other historical artifacts. The website serves those interested in historical sites and events in Ohio, as well as educators interested in learning more about the programs offered in these historical sites.
Reynolds,David S.,,. Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2011. Print.
The book is divided into 6 chapters and an introductory chapter. The book examines the impact Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, has had on the American culture since the publication of the novel in 1852. The novel received a huge response from its readers that allegedly Abraham Lincoln greeted Stowe by asking “[i]s this the little woman who made this great war?” (Reynolds x) The first three chapters look into the novel’s popularity and its use of the American culture, religion, antislavery works and other elements that help form the characters in the novel. In chapter 4, the book discusses the politics that help shape Uncle Tom’s Cabin’s polemic argument on slavery. Chapter 5 and 6 examine the controversies and impact the novel played in the issue of slavery. Additionally, the chapters follow the novel’s international impact on revolutions in China, Brazil, Cuba and other parts of the world. This book is aimed at scholars interested in the debate and impact the novel had on the American culture and other parts of the world, or simply anyone interested in Stowe and her work.
There are certain events in history that put the human race to shame. Whichever way we look at things we cannot deny that most societies were not built on social justice and civility. How do these crimes of injustice serve us today? Understanding the issues that helped spark the witch-hunt outbreak in Salem, Massachusetts, which lasted well over a year (1692-1693), can help us understand and perhaps avoid the mistakes that others have made throughout history. Much of what happened, if viewed in a religious sense, can be explained; it is easy to alienate a certain group in society if the members believe that it is part of a process of cleansing the society of evildoers. The Puritans held the witch trials because they believed that the devil did among them. Their beliefs helped trigger the witch accusations and, unfortunately, women were the victims.
The witch trials serve as one example of many misjudgments and ongoing crimes against women. Those convicted of witchcraft were mainly viewed as female misfits. These social outcasts left the male Puritan mind in fear and judgment without having prior evidence of any wrongdoing. Reading the trials of Susanna Martin, Mary Easty, and Martha Carrier reveals just how these independent and feisty women have caused fear among the Puritan society. Described by Cotton Mather as “Queen of Hell”, Martha Carrier, was guilty of being an independent character. As for Mary Easty, her eloquent plea addressing William Phips and the judge helped put an end to the witch accusations. “I would humbly beg of you that your Honors would be pleased to examine these afflicted persons strictly and keep them apart some time” (Heimert and Delbanco 346). Her petition provides evidence that the majority of the cases were based on frantic accusations. If we consider the accusations and trials held for these women in Salem village, many of them stood on false hearsay. Modern psychology and medicine would have had a good explanation for the fits the teenage girls reportedly experienced. There may have been some individuals who believed and practiced witchcraft among the Puritans, however, Increase Mather explains “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than that one innocent person should be condemned” (Heimert and Delbanco 338). The witch trials ended after questions of validity and doubts surfaced.
Unfortunately, things have not changed much in terms of social injustice, specifically towards women. Crimes against women are ubiquitous in countries such as Jordan, a country infamous for “honor killing”. Simply by leading a different lifestyle, Jordanian women risk jeopardizing their family’s honor and their own lives. Being a social outcast puts some Jordanian women at risk the same way the female misfits did in 17th century America. Many times Jordanian women end up as victims of “honor killing” based on rumors questioning their virginity. In the article, “A Review of 16 cases of honour Killings in Jordan in 1995”, Mu’men Hadidi studies crimes against women in Jordan. The article explains that the majority of the crimes committed against women were by family members. Unfortunately, such crimes exist because some societies continuously link women to social corruption. The Salem Witch Trials continue to spark interest among scholars, particularly those interested in gender studies as it provides an insight on the treatment of women during the 17th century in America and how easy it was to link them to immoral behavior.
Hadidi, Mu’men. “A Review of 16 Cases of Honour Killings in Jordan in 1995.” International Journal of Legal Medicine 114.6 (2001): 357. Print.
Heimert, Alan.,Delbanco, Andrew,. The Puritans in America: A Narrative Anthology. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985. Print.
Ray, Benjamin. Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive and Transcription Project 2002. Web. 22 July 2013.
This short list of bibliography will serve scholars researching the Salem Witch Trials. These digital databases offer electronic transcripts for the trials as well as electronic books and images that provide a deeper understanding of the period.
“The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections: Witchcraft Collection”. 2012-2013. Web. 22 July 2013.
Offers over 100 books available online from the Witchcraft Collection as part of the “Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections”. The 100 books digitized are part of a large collection of documents following the history of witchcraft predominantly in Europe. The website is available for public access and books can be viewed either by browsing by title or author’s name. The collection is not specific to the Salem Witch Trials alone but offers a wide range of books on witchcraft. The collection focuses on the practice of witchcraft as a theology. It also contains materials and transcripts of witch trials available in the original form. The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections hold over 3000 documents on witchcraft at the Cornell University Library. However, only 100 titles are digitized and accessible online. The collection can be viewed at the library by scheduling an appointment. This collection serves scholars interested in law, gender studies, and literature.
“Famous American Trials: Salem Witchcraft Trials”. 1692 Web. 22 July 2013.
The Salem Witch Trials is part of an extensive website that offers links to other famous trials in American History. It is mainly aimed at students of law who can benefit from the website as it offers all the famous trials provided by University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law; however, any scholar interested in the Salem Witch Trials would find this website useful. The website offers a broad history of the Salem witch trials including detailed biography of individuals involved in the trials. In addition, it also identifies the individuals involved in the trials. Transcripts of the witch trials are also available. Biographies, arrest warrants and Cotton Mather’s Memorable Providences are accessible on the website. The website also includes letters from Governor William Phips who had a key role in the witch trials. A study of the procedures used during the Salem Witch Trials is available to serve law students and others interested in the events. Additionally, the website offers some causes that triggered the witch trials, as well as lessons that can benefit scholars studying the Salem Witch Trials.
American Memory From the Library of Congress. Lib of Cong., Web. 25 July 2013.
This digital library offers great tools for scholars and teachers interested in American history. The website provides users with material suitable for the classroom. The library contains a large collection of historic materials and primary sources. The website organizes the materials available by state. Those interested in historic artifacts related to their state can select and find the material relevant to the state. The website offers images, historical records and maps related to each state. A solid selection on the Salem Witch Trials and the puritans can be found on the website. The selection on the puritans, as well as the witch trials, provides scholars with historical background on the culture and events of that period. The website categorizes their records according to topics such as Literature, Native American History, and Cities and Towns. The website is geared towards teachers teaching American history and culture. It is accessible and open to the public.
Ray, Benjamin. “Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive and Transcription Project”. 2002. Web. 22 July 2013.
This public website is provided by The University of Virginia and offers records of the Salem witch trials. The website holds extensive historical records regarding Salem (now Danvers, MA) and provides fully scanned primary sources of books related to the Salem Witch Trials. However, the cumbersome method used to save every scanned page on a separate file is time-consuming for scholars interested in researching these primary sources. The website also contains court records, personal letters, sermons and diaries. A search option for court documents is available by surname with scans from the original documents. In addition, the website contains a guide to historically significant locations in Danvers and maps. An interactive map available on the website is useful to use in a classroom as it helps in following the outbreak of witch accusation geographically from Feb. 29 to March 31, 1692. A recreational map is also available on the website; however, it is part of a large project that is still underdevelopment and is executed by the University of Virginia. Book and video reviews are informative and available on the website; they are part of an undergraduate course project and are limited to two or three works only.
“The Salem Witchcraft Site”. Web. 24 July 2013.
A project by Richard B. Latner from Tulane University, the website follows the timeline of the outbreak, geography and the economic issues in Salem Village that helped fuel the outbreak. However, the website does not offer transcripts of the examinations or trials and focuses mainly on the three aspects listed. It is fairly easy to navigate through the website which targets a large audience. The data provided were mainly derived from Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Salem Witchcraft Papers, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, edited by Bernard Rosenthal, et. al. Boyer and Nissenbaum’s Salem-Village Witchcraft. The website also offers tables, scatter plots, and histograms that demonstrate how the accusations began to spread geographically around Salem and the level of involvement of each town listed. Scholars can easily track the witch accusations through the detailed graphs available on the website. Additionally, the website follows the villagers’ reaction towards Samuel Parris and provides information on the petition the villagers signed to have him abdicated. The website is designed with the intention of allowing scholars to download most of its contents accessible through various programs to aid them with their research and analysis.