The Best Books On The Salem Witch Trials

Marilynne K. Roach Author Of Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials
By Marilynne K. Roach

The Books I Picked & Why

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt

By Bernard Rosenthal

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt

Why this book?

This edition of the actual court papers provides not only a more accurate transcription, but also adds previously unpublished documents, background material, and extensive notes that both clarifies obscurities and identifies the individuals who wrote even the unsigned manuscripts. (Disclaimer: I was one of the project’s sub-editors.)


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Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

By George Lincoln Burr

Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

Why this book?

This collection of contemporary 17th century works covering (mostly New England) witch-related cases before, during and after the 1692 trials was one of the earliest sources I discovered at my local public library back in the early 1960s. It provides a window into the varying reactions people had to the uncanny and what they did about it.


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Witchcraft at Salem

By Chadwick Hansen

Witchcraft at Salem

Why this book?

While I do not agree with all of the author’s conclusions, this book showed me the prevalence of folk-charms in the culture, as well as the psychological reactions humans have to stress that could explain some of what happened with the “bewitched.”


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Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

By John Putnam Demos

Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

Why this book?

This study of suspected New England witch cases from a sociological angle, made the study of the Salem witch trials respectable again after decades of the topic being dismissed as beneath the notice of serious scholarship.


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In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

By Mary Beth Norton

In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

Why this book?

While there is no one all-encompassing reason the 1692 panic proceeded as it did, Norton’s account presents the terrors and violence of the earthly warfare that dominated so many lives at that time, influenced everyone one else, and which had been largely ignored by previous accounts of the trials. 


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