The Salem Times
“Salem Times Every Time”

No one is positive on what exactly made the girls act out in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. There are many different theories on what provoked the girls to act the way they did.

There were three girls whose behavior sparked the Salem Witch Trials. Their names were Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, and Ann Putnam Jr. Their strange behaviors included hallucinations, shouting out in church, having fits, making strange sounds, and feeling as if they were being pricked and poked. There are many different theories as to why the girls behaved this way.

One theory scholars suggest is that it was mental illnesses that caused the girls to go crazy. The illnesses that caused the girls to act out are mass hysteria, mass hypnosis, or delusions. The definition of hysteria is an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, or weeping. The definition of hysteria fits the behavior of the girls extremely well. The mass hypnosis is a possibility of the cause, as the girls could have been being hypnotized by Tituba in the beginning, but it is less likely this was the cause. Also, not everyone is affected by hypnosis, and many people are skeptical if it even works. The delusions might explain the afflictions of the girls, but is also not very likely.

Another theory is that the Salem Witch Trials were related to the church. The Puritan church was beginning to feel as if it were losing control over its parishioners. Instead of following Puritan values, the attainment of wealth was becoming a focus for the merchants, and the church was slowly losing power. The Puritans were beginning to care more about money and wealth than Puritan values. There were two distinct part of Salem, the poorer farmers who lived in Salem Village and the wealthy merchants who lived in Salem Town. The people of the village

may have wanted to do away with the merchants working in Salem Town because they thought that they were destroying Puritan values because of their love of wealth. The people of Salem Town may have wanted to accuse the people of Salem Village so they could take over their land.

Some scholars also believe that the girls started the Salem Witch Trials out of greed. They may have wanted to take some of the possessions of the accused or they were jealous of them. Especially, in Ann Putnam Jr.‘s case, both of her parents were very greedy. In her family only seven out of eight kids survived, and Ann’s mom was jealous of Rebecca Nurse because she had so many kids. Ann’s dad was also greedy. He accused many people himself in order to take control over more land. This does not apply to the poorer people they accused though, so it is less likely that is the case.

A fourth theory is that the girls behavior was caused by physical illness. Some scientists believe that the Salem Witch Trials were a result of ergot poisoning. Ergot poisoning is caused by a fungus that grows on rye and other grains that would have been grown in the Salem settlement. The poison can also be passed down from mothers to infants through breast milk. Some of the symptoms of ergot poisoning include convulsive fits, muscle spasms, parasthesia, nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations. Hallucinations as well as convulsive fits would explain the strange behavior of the girls.

Other historians believe that the reason the girls started the Salem Witch Trials had to do with the Puritan lifestyle. The Puritans were very strict; life for them was all work and no play. The girls were expected to help their mothers clean, cook, wash, and sew. The boys were expected to work as apprentices outside of the house, but also go hunting and fishing. They were not allowed to show any emotion, and if they did they would be severely punished. Children rarely played as toys and games were seen as sinful distractions. The girls may have been malingerers

Malingering is when an individual fakes symptoms of illness to obtain rewards. This may have been that case especially after learning about the strict lifestyle of the Puritans.

There are many different theories as to the cause of the behavior of the girls which lead up to the Salem Witch Trials. These theories range from metal and physical illnesses to social issues. Unfortunately, the true cause may always remain a mystery.


By Annika L.

The Mystery of the Salem Witch Trials

During the Salem Witch Trials, an accused person’s fate was determined by whether they chose to confess to or deny practicing witchcraft. Either way, it was a lose-lose situation for the accused because they would lose their property, get thrown in jail (and possibly die of bad conditions), or even get hanged.

When someone was accused of being a witch, he or she had a chance to confess. If that person confessed, he or she would be released from jail. One such “witch” who confessed was Mary Toothaker. She claimed that she had made a pact with the Devil to protect her from Indian attacks. As a result, Mary was released from jail after her confession. Tituba, the slave of Reverend Samuel Parris, was the first person in Salem to confess to witchcraft. She spoke about a tall man from Boston visiting her and showing her nine names in his book, supposedly the Devil’s book. Tituba’s confession led to much worry and fear in Salem about the six remaining witches (nine names minus the names of Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba) and sparked the witch hysteria. Out of about one hundred accused, about fifty confessed to and fifty denied practicing witchcraft.

If an accused person confessed, however, he or she could lose their property to the church. Martha Corey’s husband, Giles Corey, an accused witch, stayed silent during his trial because he wanted to leave his property for his heirs. Magistrates laid heavy rocks on Corey’s chest to torture him into confession. Corey died after two days of being crushed by the rocks. Some say Corey’s last words were “more weight” so that he would die faster.

Some people who confessed, including Mary Osgood, Mary Tiler, Deliverance Dane, Abigail Barker, Sarah Wilson, and Hannah Tiler, later recanted their confessions, saying that they were “totally overwhelmed” by the magistrates and jailers.

If the accused witch denied practicing witchcraft, then the jury would rule that person guilty, and the “witch” went to prison to await hanging. This is what happened to Rebecca Nurse. When she was accused, she told the magistrates, “I can say before my eternal father that I am innocent, and God will clear my innocence.” At first, after hearing this plea, the jury declared Nurse innocent. However, after the judge asked the jury to reconsider, they declared her guilty. Nurse’s long record of church service, and a petition, signed by John Putnam Sr., Jonathan Putnam, and others, failed to keep Nurse out of prison. Rebecca Nurse was hanged on Gallows hill on September 22nd. The second convicted witch, Sarah Osborne also denied guilt. She claimed she was a victim of witchcraft, not a witch and started shrieking and shaking when her accusers looked at her. Unfortunately, the magistrates were not convinced and Sarah Osborne went to jail with Sarah Good and Tituba. Osborne later died in custody.

Pointing the finger at other people was how Abigail Hobbs, an accused woman, tried to draw attention away from the fact that she herself had been accused. Hobbs once claimed she had made a pact with the Devil and had sold herself “body and soul to the Old Boy” (The Devil). Later, she cried out against George Burroughs, Salem’s former minister, trying to gain respect and attention with the afflicted girls. Hobbs claimed that she “saw the devil in the woods of Maine, near where my former master Burroughs lived.” However, since she was of a lower class than the afflicted girls, who all came from the most respected families in Salem, she was not accepted into their inner circle and went to jail anyway.

Over 100 people were accused during the Salem Witch Trials. The results of the trials were shockingly life-changing. Each one of them lost his or her status as a community member and either their property, if they confessed to witchcraft, or their lives, if they denied being witches. Either way, the choices in this dilemma led to bad results in the village of Salem.

By Jason C.

Confession vs. Denial: Judged as a Witch

Roles of Women and Children in Salem

What do we expect from them?

Men dominate Salem, Massachusetts. The Puritan religion states that there are two parts to a soul, the “immortal” male part, and the “mortal” female part. Women are not appreciated as much as men are because in the Bible, Eve is the first to take the fruit from the forbidden tree. Women produce children and care for them, but it is the father that has ultimate power over the children. Women are to always believe that their husbands are keeping them safe, no matter what they are doing.

Duties of a Woman

Women have an astoundingly long list of responsibilities and duties—they aid their husbands with their businesses/trades. They are responsible for medical care, examples of which are delivering babies and managing and prescribing drugs for various wounds and illnesses. Women who are able to read give their children reading lessons. Older, more experienced women teach other young women the skills of being a housewife, or sometimes a particular activity like weaving or needlepoint. Women both prepare and serve meals to their family every day, they bake the bread, care for the children, and clean the house and furniture. They wash and iron the family’s clothes, weed the garden, carry water, and make clothing. Women are responsible for multiple tasks that help their husbands and their community, yet women cannot sit with men during church.

Expectations of Children

Education is not as important as religion. If children are taught about religion sufficiently, they will grow up being good, knowledgeable people by nature. Every person in the community should be able to read the Bible, so school is provided for children. When children begin going to school, their primary schoolbook is a “hornbook,” which is a wooden slate on which the alphabet and a short prayer are printed. Children are sent to school when they turn seven. That year is generally the year that childhood ends. Children of both genders start religion and reading lessons, and children, especially girls, are given household duties.

To ensure that children grow up to be mature, righteous members of the Salem community, they are expected to act like adults at a very young age. Infants are dressed in clothing that makes them appear to be sitting up in a more adult, mature position. Children go to church twice a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays. They are to sit up straight on the hard, wooden benches and pay close attention to the long, three hour sermons. They are not allowed to play with toys or dolls ever—both are a complete waste of time. Also, witches cast their spells using dolls—the dolls are small copies of people, and whatever happens to the doll also happens to the person. Christmas and Easter are not celebrated in Salem—the Puritans feel as though these holidays come from pagan ideas and are not completely religious. Whenever children receive breaks from school, the break is given for a reason, such as to help their parents with the harvest. Childhood is viewed as a period in life that should pass as soon as possible.

Even though men dominate the community of Salem, Massachusetts, women and children are still essential to the community in order for it to prosper. Women are burdened with more tasks than men are, and this makes their life extremely challenging. There is an inequality of gender roles, and women are submissive to this—they continue to pass on the unwritten law to their children that men are—and always will be—more powerful than women.

By Pascale B.

Articles on this Page:

The Mystery of the Salem Witch Trials

Confession vs. Denial: Judged as a Witch

Roles of Women and Children in Salem

Stop the Devil’s Assistances: How to Tell if Someone is a Witch

In God We Trust

What They Burn For

Fashion in Salem

Malleus Maleficarum

Stop the Devil’s Assistances

How to Tell if Someone is a Witch

    The devil is everywhere, and there is no way of stopping him. Everyone must open their eyes and see that evil thing that is right in front of us. Lucifer tries to trick all the people and blind everyone’s eyes to his evil magic. This important thing that all the people of Salem should know: how to identify a witch, an agent of the Devil, Lucifer’s assistants.

There are many different ways of finding a witch. I have written below some of the most common ways of telling if someone is a witch, or is not a witch.

Spectral Evidence: When unfortunate events occur, such as illness in the household, or of animals in the field, or the crops die, and if while in the midst of such a calamity a vision of another person, a ghost of someone recognizable, or an apparition appears, the living person whose image has appeared is most assuredly a witch.   The witch doing the handiwork of the Devil is what is troubling the person; so do not be afraid to accuse them. The Devil is able to use anyone’s shape to afflict anyone, but the Court says that the Devil may not use the person’s shape unless with permission; therefore, when one claims to see the spirit or ghost of somebody, it is evidence that this person has been complicit with the Devil.

Witch Cake: Baking a witch cake is easy. Just use the power of white magic to discover the identity of the witch who is afflicting someone. Mix and bake together rye meal and urine from the burdened girls, and feed it to a dog. When the dog eats the cake, the witch herself will be hurt because invisible particles she had sent to afflict the girls remains in the afflicted girls’ urine. The witch will cry out in pain when the dog eats the cake. This is how you can identify her as a witch.

The Witch’s Pets: Witches Pets are also known as “familiars”. Some animals are also suspicious of witchcraft. They are assigned by the Devil to help a Witch with black magic. Ferrets, rabbits, blackbirds, owls, crows, toads, and frogs are the most common familiars. Felines are especially suspicious. They are said to perform magical services for accused witches. One cat was said to have filled up his masters’ pasture with sheep and brought her suitors. The cat was rewarded a drop of blood for every service done. At the Church, the priests developed a thought that if one sees the shadow of Satan in anyone who had a strong relationship with an animal, she is a witch.

Touch Test: If the accused witch touches the cursed victim while she is having a fit, and the fit stops, it means that the accused witch was the person in charge of afflicting the victim. Mister John Hale explains, “ the Witch by the cast of her eye sends forth a Malefick Venom into the Bewitched into him into a fit, and therefore the touch of the hand doth by sympathy cause that venom to return into the Body of the Witch again”. Another kind of touch test is when the examiners put a needle into the body of the accused Witch, and if there is no pain and no blood, the accused is truly a Witch. If the accused Witch cries out in pain and if she bleeds, she is not a Witch. After many tests on the accused Witches, the court discovered that Hale’s analysis is very true.

Poppits and Puppets: Poppits are items used for black magic, such as books of palmistry and horoscopes, and pots of ointments. There is another kind of evidence that are poppits called puppets. These are little dolls that look like the Witches Victim. After the Witch makes one, she damages it in some way, often just how she wishes to hurt the real person.

Witches Teats: A mole or blemish somewhere on the body of the accused Witch is called a Witches Teat. If there is hair on the body, the examiners will cut it off for a full body exam. If one mole or blemish is found on the body, she is a witch!

Drowning: Rocks are strapped to the accused witch and the accused witch is put into a body of water. If she floats or survives, she is a witch, and if the accused witch truly drowns, she is innocent.

Use the ways above to determine the difference between an innocent person and a witch. The Devil will never stop taking souls from our friends and family, so try to stop him! Always be prepared.

By Sarah M.

In God We Trust

Some people think that Satan or the Devil are just other names for hell. The people of Salem, Massachusetts both agreed and disagreed.

The religion of Salem is Calvinism. People in Salem believe that they are born into the world where God has already decided where they belong in the after-life. Like the Bible says people thought that witches were working with the devil so they burned and killed every person accused. Witchcraft is a serious crime punishable by death or imprisonment. The people no longer wanted death penalties, but unlike Salem, Massachusetts, England, and Scotland chose not to have that law apply to their own government.

Satan can be called by many names but a lot of people know him as the Devil. This creature’s actual name, as some people believe, is Lucifer. Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven because he rebelled against God. God condemned Lucifer to Hell. Later Lucifer became known as the Devil or Satan. Witches are people who are believed to be working with Lucifer.

Religion had a big role in how and why people believe in witches and witchcraft. A person’s beliefs cause them to forget and not see what is really going on. When the girls were told witch stories by a slave, they began acting strangely and accusing people of witchcraft, people believed it right away because they were afraid of living their afterlife in Hell and they wanted to obey God. People who had a   different religion or belief, or not a church member, seemed to be accused more easily, because those people neither believed in the same beliefs that the church members did or were not trusted as much as the members of the church. 

In order for a person to become a church member, the person had to go through a spiritual experience where the person would have to hope that that was a sign of God’s acceptance into heaven. Fortunately at the end of the 1600s all it took to become a member of the church was to be on good behavior. Good behavior means keeping watch on your neighbors to see whether or not they were witches or whether they were worshiping the Devil and going against God. It is a terrible invasion of privacy for some but people were self conscious about themselves and their surroundings.

Church attendance is important because people are not suspicious as a church-goer as a person who does not attend church for reasons of non believers.The minister held most of the power because people believed that he alone could communicate with God. The people did not like others who did not follow the same religion and beliefs as they do.

Strangely though, people believed that whoever was accused of working with the Devil could not say the Lord’s Prayer. A man accused of witchcraft named George Burroughs was able to say the Lord’s Prayer word for word before he was hanged but unfortunately he was hung anyways. Although people in Salem are all about having good behavior some do not have good sense. When the people went to church they were arranged my social level and wealth level. The wealthy and higher social level sat in the front and the children, slaves and servants sat in the back. They also divided it by gender. Only the men could vote on church matters.

Being accused of witchcraft towards the end of the 1600s can be difficult because people will go straight to believing the accusers rather than getting to the answer. Religion, their main reason for being in Salem, Massachusetts, has caused a greater problem then it did in England. People move from England to be free of the governments grasp on their own beliefs. They do not like to be bossed around or told what to believe in and what not to believe in. These people sailed to Salem, Massachusetts hoping they would find a better life there because no one would be telling them what to do. The people got what they wanted but they also began not trusting each other because of little girls who were told stories by their father’s slave. Those girls caused one of the most tragic stories in America because twenty-four innocent men and women died falsely accused. The people’s ignorance blinded by their be.

By Tiffany L.

What They Burn For

For hundreds of years Europeans have cleansed their society of vicious and devilish people.

Beginning around three hundred years ago people began noticing strange things occurring. People became mysteriously ill and strange droughts and floods which occurred without warning. Then they found the reason of the occurrences: witches. Witches are people who had made a pact with the Devil and in served him in exchange for the power to use black magic for their own ends. Black magic allows the user to hurt and sicken people through occult forces. This bargain allows the Devil to advance his goal of spreading pain and suffering throughout the world.

Needless to say, People began campaigns to stop these witches from doing their evil work. Many kings in Europe have taken extreme actions to completely eliminate the vial stain of witchcraft from their countries. King James I wrote book about witchcraft, and many other kings have set special groups to hunt them down and try them. The usual punishment for witchcraft is to be burned at the stake, and many people, witches or not, suffered from this punishment. The first witch trial in the British colonies was Mary Parsons, who was acquitted but died for murdering her child. This event happened in 1645.

Witches can exercise their power either by sending a familiar to do their evil bidding or by going themselves and tormenting their intended target. A familiar, as everyone should know, is a beast that has been enchanted to obey a witches’ commands, it is usually a dog or cat but can be almost any animal. They are given to a witch by her successor or by the Devil himself, and stay under a witches control by being fed her blood. Witches can also fly to the intended victim and pinch or bite them in order to cause pain. The person they have pinched or bitten will suffer from greater pain than the physical attack could cause. Witches also can cast spells that make the victim fall into fits, become sick or have various other misfortunes.

There is almost no limit to the power of a witch, but for some of their spells they require strange herbs. Mandrake is commonly used, as well as many of the herbs that can be dug up in a forest. These herbs are put through special procedures such as drying and crushing as well as soaking in blood. These procedures give them their magical properties. Then they are mixed together into special potions that are used to enact a witch’s evil intentions.

Witches can be identified by their witch’s mark, which is a blemish left on their skin by the devil and can be found anywhere on the body. Another sign of a witch is that water, being pure, will reject them if they are thrown into it. So they float if thrown into a pond with their hands tied behind their back, while an innocent person will sink. They also cause pain to their victims when near them. So their victim will be thrown into fits whenever they are near, and a movement of their hand or face will send the afflicted into even more pain.

Witches also participate in rights called witch’s Sabbaths, which are ceremonies in which witches meet with and worship demons and the devil. These ceremonies are mockeries of the holy Christian rites all good Christians perform. Most acts of evil and witchcraft are performed during these Sabbaths. These Sabbaths sometimes include flights on wooden sticks soaked in herbs or on strange animals to a place where reality is blurred. The food at these ceremonies can include unbaptized children or rotten meat from strange and unclean animals.

Witches are a blemish on the Christian and European world of today. Everything that can be done to eliminate the terrible acts performed by the witches who haunt the darkest pit of society must be done. Witches are the opposite of all things good and holy, and they cause the pain and suffering of many people all over the world every day. They can be stopped with the help of everyone who wishes to rid society of the malicious deeds that have been committed by the vile and disgusting people known as witches.

By Tobias G.

Fashion in Salem

In a place where there are hot, sweltering summers, cold, frozen winters, and just about everything in between, fashion is not exactly the most important thing on the Pilgrims' mind. But all the same the English colonists have their own style--a fashion that is adapted to the extreme weather and hard work needed to survive.

Most women in Salem only have two to four sets of clothing--one for weekdays, or working days, and one for Sunday. These sets of clothing usually consist of a bodice, which is a corset-like item that goes down to the waist and is usually laced very tightly. Under the bodice, they wear a linen shift. They wear several layers of petticoats, or underskirts.

Both genders wear layers of linen and/or wool to protect themselves from the harsh Salem weather. In winter, wool stockings are a necessary item! Most of the clothing is made of either wool or linen, and the clothing is usually an earth tone, like brown or tan. Occasionally, people buy clothing made of special colors like scarlet or black.

Men wear linen shirts under knee-length waistcoats, and full-skirted coats are often worn as well. Usually, men do not have collars on their shirts, but instead wear neckcloths. However, ministers sometimes have collars on their shirts. Men working in the fields usually wear knee-length breeches; rarely do they wear ankle-length pants.

Women wear their hair in a bun under a linen cap or a hood. This is for modesty and neatness. Men usually have shoulder-length hair and wear a broad-brimmed hat. Men and women wear wigs, which are very expensive—some wigs cost as much as a house!

Some different kinds of wigs include a full-bottomed wig, which is a large wig that goes over the front and back of both shoulders; a pigtail wig, which is a black-haired wig bound in the back with a ribbon; a ramalie wig, a wig with a puff of hair at the side and a braid in back that is secured with black ribbon; and a tie wig, which is a wig tied in back with a ribbon.

Children in Salem of both genders wear petticoats until boys are considered mature enough to switch to breeches. Toddlers wear clothes with "leading strings," strings attached to the back of a child's clothing so that the parents can grab the strings pull them away from dangerous things such as wells and hot fires.

Even though the colonists must endure the harsh weather and exhausting labor of Salem, they have their own individual fashion, some items more fanciful (such as the various types of wigs that they wear), and some more practical (such as the leading strings that toddlers wear, or the earth tones of their clothing). Having a separate fashion from England helps to start the thoughts in the colonist's heads that they are kind of a separate country, a different place that maybe doesn't need to be ruled by England—your fashion supports who you are, and the colonists are not in England anymore—they are in a new world.

By Pascale B.

Malleus Maleficarum

In 1486, a man wrote a book by the name of Malleus Maleficarum. The book was published in 1687. “Malleus maleficarum” translates into “hammer of witches.”

The Malleus Maleficarum was mostly written by Heinrich Kramer. The other bit was written by his co-author, Jacob Sprenger. Jacob Sprenger was a respected Dominican scholar. Heinrich Kramer was a German inquisitor. He was not a terribly respected man. His ideas and views on witchcraft were thought to be strange, and extreme by many of his fellow clergymen. His fellow clergymen often opposed his witchcraft trials, and accusations. Mr. Kramer ran an enormous trial in Innsbruck in 1485, where 57 people were tried. Nobody was killed. The Bishop of Innsbruck became so irritated with Kramer’s interest in the witches’ sexual behavior, that he stopped the trials, and pronounced Kramer affiliated with the Devil, instead of the “witches”. Kramer wrote the Malleus Maleficarum as a result of this incident to obtain the cooperation

of his peers.

The Malleus Maleficarum was a minority opinion, written to convince people that Witches were dangerous and very much existent. The Malleus Maleficarum was written also to challenge any arguments against the existence of witchcraft. The book was also written to inform magistrates on how to identify and deal with a witch.

Kramer submitted the Malleus Maleficarum to the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Theology on May 9, 1487. Kramer submitted the Malleus, seeking endorsement to make his book more popular. It is possiblethat Kramer was rebuffed and wrote a fake endorsement. In 1490 the Catholic Church banned the Malleus Maleficarum. They put in on the list of prohibited books. Although the Catholic Church banned the Malleus, it still became extremely popular throughout Europe.

In the years 1487-1520 the Malleus was a standard guidebook for witch-hunters because of its content on identifying witches. The Malleus Malificarum shows that a book can change history.

By Isabel L.