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Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt
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Book description

This book represents a comprehensive record of all legal documents pertaining to the Salem witch trials, in chronological order. Numerous manuscripts, as well as records published in earlier books that were overlooked in other editions, offer a comprehensive narrative account of the events of 1692–3, with supplementary materials stretching as far as the mid-18th century. The book can be used as a reference book or read as an unfolding narrative. All legal records are newly transcribed, and 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.

Reviews

'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

'Anyone who is interested in the witchcraft crisis that centered on Salem in 1962 will want to consult if not own this volume.'

Source: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

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