The result of a perfect storm of factors that culminated in a great moral catastrophe, the Salem witch trials of 1692 took a breathtaking toll on the young English colony of Massachusetts. In Satan and Salem, Benjamin Ray offers the most nuanced view yet of why the Salem witch-hunt spiraled out of control. His historical database of court records, documents, and maps yields a unique analysis of the geographic spread of accusations and trials, allowing Ray to assemble portraits of several major characters, each of whom had complex motives for accusing his or her neighbors—and, ultimately, contributing to the most devastating episode of witch trials on this side of the Atlantic.
“At least once a generation a scholar promises to give the final word on the origins and course of the 1692 Salem witchcraft outbreak. Ben Ray’s Satan and Salem is a book that finally delivers on that ambitious claim. By combining shrewd analysis of newly transcribed and discovered documents, a corrected timeline of events, and a truly broad consideration of the religious, social, and political context for the outbreak, Ray makes us sympathetic to not only the tragedy of Salem but the complex world that produced it.” —Gretchen A. Adams, Texas Tech University, author of The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America
Read Trial Transcripts Online
The endnote references for many of the quotations in Satan & Salem refer to author Benjamin Ray’s collection of transcriptions in the online Salem Witchcraft Papers (SWP) at http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/category/swp.html. For example, from page 30 of Satan & Salem:
The records refer to Good’s turning away from Parris’s house and muttering indistinguishable words after Parris had given her something for her child.52
Note 52 reads:
52 RSWH No.3/SWP No. 63.3.
This note references SWP transcript 63, section 3. To find the online transcript, go to http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/category/swp.html. Scroll down the left-hand “Case Files” sidebar to locate and click on SWP No. 63, then scroll in the transcript to section 3.
Enter the transcript number in the box below to create a direct link:
Created by Benjamin Ray, this site contains a wealth of secondary material in addition to facsimiles and transcriptions of primary documents, contemporary books about the witchcraft trials, and more.