17th Century New England, with special emphasis on the Salem Witchcraft Trials

A 17th Century Colonial New England Bibliography

This is a sometimes-annotated bibliography of the books in my personal reference library as I research 17th century colonial New England. There are a lot about the Salem witch-hunt, Puritan thought, and Anglo-Indian contact, but also a few odds and ends that make sense to me to have on hand. Please note: I do not lend books. To anyone. Most of these titles can be borrowed from any good public or university library. If you want to purchase a copy of any of these titles, I have included direct links to Amazon.com for all but a handful of out-of-print or hard-to-find local imprint titles. To print out the whole bibliography, please use the printer-friendly version to save paper.

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Abbot | Axtell | Begiebing | Boyer | Breitwieser | Briggs | Carlson | Cronon | Demos | Earhart
Francis | Gildrie | Greven | Hall | Hill | Jackson | Kramer | Lockridge | Mather | Miller
Nevins | Powell | Robinson | Rowlandson | Sewall | Starkey | Thompson | VanDerBeets | Weisman | Winslow

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  1. Carlson, Laurie Winn. A Fever in Salem: A New Interpretation of the New England Witch Trials. Ivan R. Dee: Chicago. 1999. Order from Amazon.com

    This book puts forth the theory that bird migration patterns could have brought encaphalitis lethargica to cause the hysterics in Salem Village. Both Salem scholars and medical experts have found major errors in this theory.
  2. Castillo, Susan, and Schweitzer, Ivy, eds.. The Literatures of Colonial America: An Anthology. Blackwell: Malden, MA. 2001. Order from Amazon.com

  3. Chapin, Bradley. Criminal Justice in Colonial America, 1606-1660. University of Georgia Press: Athens. 1983. Order from Amazon.com

  4. Church, Benjamin. Diary of King Philip's War 1675-1676. Introduction by Alan and Mary Simpson. Lockwood: Little Compton, RI. 1975. Order from Amazon.com

    This is a publication to commemorate the 300th anniversary of King Philip's War, by the town in Rhode Island where Colonel Church was from. It contains dozens of maps, portraits, facsimiles of title pages of books and more from the era, as well as Church's own account of King Philip's War.
  5. Condé, Maryse. I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem. Trans. Richard Philcox. Ballantine: New York. 1992. Order from Amazon.com

    Condé's fictionalized account of the life of Tituba, Rev. Samuel Parris's slave, holds close to a variety of the documented events in 1692, but she provides a much richer story than the extant facts support, both before and after 1692, as well as detailing Tituba's spiritual life. Hawthorne's Hester Prynne makes appearance with Tituba in prison, only in Condé's story, Prynne commits suicide and becomes Tituba's spiritual lesbian lover.
  6. Cook, Robin. Acceptable Risk. Putnam: New York. 1994. Order from Amazon.com

    This is a novel, and fluff at that. Cook makes up an additional character who was supposedly executed as a witch in 1692, but her influential husband was somehow able to blot out all references to her case.

    Cook, as a medical-thriller writer, has a modern-day drug-developer manage to unearth spores from moldy rye from 1692 (sorry: unwilling to suspend my disbelief kicks in hard at this point), and starts experimenting with this relative of the mold which causes ergotism to develop a new psychopharmaceutical drug. Unfortunately, the researchers must have been dabbling in their own research long before finding this one because the dolts try it out on themselves, with disastrous results, turning them into nocturnal flesh-eating animals.

    The big "mystery" Cook holds out on the reader until the end: the "incontrovertible proof of guilt" of this woman is a drug-deformed miscarried fetus, with cloven hooves, a tail, and bumps like horns on the forehead, which even more amazingly, has managed to remain not only intact in a pickled state lost in Harvard's library collections for over three centuries, but otherwise unnoticed. Right...
  7. Cooper, James F., Jr. and Minkema, Kenneth P., eds.. The Sermon Notebook of Samuel Parris 1689-1694. Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Boston. 1993. Order from Amazon.com

    Notes for Parris' sermons for the five-year period before and after the witch trials, apparently transcribed in his own hand from his loose papers for safekeeping. The original notebook is in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. Two facsimile pages are included, along with a color reproduction of the well-known miniature portrait of Samuel Parris from the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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This page was last updated Feb. 15, 2009 by Margo Burns, margoburns@gmail.com