Project Introduction

The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project consists of an electronic collection of primary source materials relating to the Salem witch trials of 1692 and a new transcription of the court records.

The Documentary Archive is created under the supervision of Professor Benjamin C. Ray, University of Virginia. The Transcription project is supervised by Professor Bernard Rosenthal, University of Binghamton. Together with a team of scholars, Professor Rosenthal is undertaking a new transcription of the original court records, titled Records of
the Salem Witch-Hunt, to be published by Cambridge University Press. See Transcription Updates for an ongoing report of corrections to the published transcriptions, Salem Witchcraft Papers (De Capo Press,1977).

For a brief description of the Salem witch trials, go to Overview of the Salem Witch Trials. This summary describes the main events of the witchcraft trials, all of which are documented in the Archive's collections of primary resources. These resources include court records, contemporary books, and record books, as well as images of the original court documents, indexed according to various archival collections. The overview also refers to some of the notable people who played important roles in the trials and in the debate about the legitimacy of the trials. Users of the Archive may search the court records and contemporary books and letters for names of people involved, aided by a list of notable people and by a complete alphabetical list of everyone mentioned in the court documents.

The Archive's historical maps of Salem Village, Salem, and Andover show the locations of the houses of many of the people involved in the trials. The Regional Accusations Map displays the chronology of the accusations from February through November 1692. and shows the spread of the accusations across the towns of Massachusetts Bay. The Salem Village Accusations Map shows the day-by-day accusations the month of March, 1692. It displays the names of the accusers and the accused, and their household locations, as recorded in the court documents. The Archive's collection of literary works includes works by Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, and Freeman.

The Archive also contains educational information, such as biographical profiles, a collection of images containing portraits of notable people involved in the trials, pictures of important historic sites, historical paintings and published illustrations taken from 19th and early 20th century literary and historical works. The Archive will also contain some of the classic scholarly studies: Charles Upham's Witchcraft in Salem Village, with an interactive index, and selections from George Lincoln Burr's valuable Narratives of the Witchcraft Trials. Sidney Perley's History of Salem. Finally, the archive is developing a searchable dartabase of information about people, social groups, events, structures, and bibliography.

The project draws heavily upon the manuscript and rare book collections of several participating libraries, archives, and historical societies. Funding has been provided by several foundation grants. Computing centers at the University of Virginia provide ongoing technological support. For press coverage, see Press Archive.

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© Copyright 2002 by Benjamin Ray and The Rector and Visitors of the
University of Virginia