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An overview of the salem witchcraft trials in massachusetts in 1692

When they failed to improve, the village doctor, William Griggs, was called in. His diagnosis of bewitchment put into motion the forces that would ultimately result in the death by hanging of nineteen men and women. In addition, one man was crushed to death; seven others died in prison, and the lives of many were irrevocably changed. To understand the events of the Salem witch trials, it is necessary to examine the times in which accusations of witchcraft occurred.

There were the ordinary stresses of 17th-century life in Massachusetts Bay Colony.

  1. Daniel Andrews Other victims include two dogs who were shot or killed after being suspected of witchcraft. According to Upham, Saltonstall deserves the credit for "being the only public man of his day who had the sense or courage to condemn the proceedings, at the start.
  2. At the time, a vicious rivalry was underway between the Putnam and Porter families, one which deeply polarized the people of Salem.
  3. Past and Present For the past four decades, the museum has told the true story behind the Salem witch trials of 1692 and provided context for understanding the phenomenon of "witch hunts" and witchcraft in general from the Middle Ages to modern times.

A strong belief in the devil, factions among Salem Village fanatics and rivalry with nearby Salem Town, a recent small pox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion. Soon prisons were filled with more than 150 men and women from towns surrounding Salem. All would await trial for a crime punishable by death in 17th-century New England, the practice of witchcraft. In June of 1692, the special Court of Oyer to hear and Terminer to decide sat in Salem to hear the cases of witchcraft.

Presided over by Chief Justice William Stoughton, the court was made up of magistrates and jurors. The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem who was found guilty and was hanged on June 10.

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Thirteen women and five men from all stations of life followed her to the gallows on three successive hanging days before the court was disbanded by Governor William Phipps in October of that year. This belief in the power of the accused to use their invisible shapes or spectres to torture their victims had sealed the fates of those tried by the Court of Oyer and Terminer. The new court released those awaiting trial and pardoned those awaiting execution.

In effect, the Salem witch trials were over.

  1. But that he would powerfully defend him against all temptations to sin, for the future; and vouchsafe him the efficacious, saving conduct of his word and spirit.
  2. Five more people were hanged that July; five in August and eight more in September. All were found not guilty.
  3. Likely seeking to save herself from certain conviction by acting as an informer, she claimed there were other witches acting alongside her in service of the devil against the Puritans. How have these changes occurred?

Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that time and apply our understanding to our own society. Past and Present For the past four decades, the museum has told the true story behind the Salem witch trials of 1692 and provided context for understanding the phenomenon of "witch hunts" and witchcraft in general from the Middle Ages to modern times. With the museum's recent exterior conservation and planned redesign of its web site, administrators are hoping that more Salem residents will be drawn to its doors.

Every one of its crenellations, arched windows, buttresses and battlements will appear to be untouched. How have these changes occurred?

Salem Witch Trials

To trace the evolution of the word, figures in sets tell their stories — starting with an ancient Celtic midwife. She speaks about her role in society as a respected healer and guardian of the stability of the community.

A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials

In the next set a hag dressed in black with pointed hat and green face flies across the moon on her broom. She is the transformation of the strong Celtic woman, diminished and demonized by the church fathers in the middle ages.

She speaks of her role as the troublemaker in society on whom all evil things are blamed.

  • In 1706 Ann Putnam, Jr;
  • Noyes began with a very pertinent and pathetic prayer, and Goodwife Corey being called to answer to what was alleged against her, she desired to go to prayer, which was much wondered at, in the presence of so many hundred people;
  • The parsonage in Salem Village , as photographed in the late 19th century The present-day archaeological site of the Salem Village parsonage In Salem Village, in February 1692, Betty Parris , age 9, and her cousin Abigail Williams , age 11, the daughter and niece, respectively, of Reverend Samuel Parris, began to have fits described as "beyond the power of Epileptic Fits or natural disease to effect" by John Hale , the minister of the nearby town of Beverly;
  • The record books of the time do not note the deaths of any of those executed;
  • The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem who was found guilty and was hanged on June 10;
  • In February the village began praying and fasting in order to rid itself of the devil's influence.

Along a wall adjacent to the stereotypical witch figure, a time line of dates and images from western and pagan history illustrates the gradual change from midwife to mischief-maker. The most recent dates show an understanding of the mistakes of the past. Around a comer stand a male and female figure.


They are practitioners of Wicca or witchcraft and they talk about the ancient origins of their beliefs and their role in society today. They are the descendants of the Celtic midwife, looking to the earth mother for healing and for spirituality. Finally, a large picture of Senator Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Welsh asks visitors to consider the phenomenon of witch hunting.

  • On July 19 five more convicted persons were hanged, including Nurse and Good the latter of whom responded to her conviction by saying that she was no more a witch than the judge was a wizard;
  • Witches were considered to be followers of Satan who had traded their souls for his assistance;
  • Objections by Elizabeth's husband, John Proctor , during the proceedings resulted in his arrest that day;
  • She was accused of witchcraft because of her appalling reputation;
  • Pope complained of grievous torment in her bowels as if they were, torn out.

Contemporary examples of witch hunts - the Japanese American internment after Pearl Harbor, the McCarthy hearings on Communism and the persecution of the gay community at the start of the AIDS epidemic - bring the lessons of stereotyping and prejudice full circle.

We encourage you to explore more in Salem and learn more about the Salem Witch Trials on these sites.

Salem witch trials