Topic 1:

Salem Witch Trials

external image 400px-SalemWitchcraftTrial.jpg
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores how discrimination caused hysteria during the Salem witch trials in September of 1692. The result of such discrimination was that hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft and imprisoned for months. An additional nineteen people were convicted and executed for the same accusation.
Your task is to do further research on the Salem Witch Trails and hysteria using the links listed below.
During your research:
  • Analyze the reasons for the hysteria behind the Salem Witch Trials and how community leaders responded to it.
  • Answer the questions listed below on your notecards to help you explain this hysteria to your group members, fully citing each source you use on the back of each notecard.
  • Create a complete Works Cited using correct MLA formatting.
  • Prepare to write an essay on your findings for the Crucible Test.

Questions to consider:

1. What events and accusations started the hysteria that led up to the Salem Witch Trials?
2. What are some examples of discrimination during the accusations and trials, and to what degree do you think discrimination was a cause?
3. How did local community leaders in and around Salem respond to the accusations and proceedings?
4. Was the response to hysteria surrounding accused witches in Salem appropriate? Why or why not?
Student Questions Handout (PDF)

Research Links:

The Salem Witch Trials 1692: A Chronology of Events.
This site contains a timeline of the events of the Trials, and allows you to see the progression of the hysteria over time, with its eventual consequences being the deaths of nearly 20 innocent people. The site also provides several quotes from the accused.

Salem Witch Trials: The World Behind the Hysteria.
Use this page to learn more about the background to the Salem Witch Trials, and the general attitudes towards witchcraft and religion at the time.

Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits.
This page contains links to each page of the original document on witchcraft written by Increase Mather, who represents the extreme religiosity of the time and the degree to which witchcraft or anything non-Puritan was feared. Click on each of the 4 pages of the Preface to get an idea of the types of written works on witchcraft read at the time of the Trials.

Secrets of the Dead: The Witches Curse.
This detective site attempts to find explanations for the events of the Salem Witch Trials, and cites a possible nutritional problem as a source of the strange behaviors of the town’s citizens.

Petitions of Witches Awaiting Execution in Salem.
Read these two petitions of accused witches, Mary Easty and John Proctor, and achieve a sense of what it was like to be accused of witchcraft in Puritan Salem, Massachusetts.

Salem Witchcraft Trials: List of Dead and Death Warrant.
This page lists all of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials, including the 19 victims who were hanged, the man pressed to death for refusing to testify, and those who died in prison awaiting trial.