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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween from the Riesenfeld Center!

A Tryal of Witches ... London, 1716
Just in time for Halloween, we brought out from our stacks a few historical witch trials. 

Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World, held by the library in a nineteenth-century English edition, gives an account of the witch trials held in Salem, Massachusetts and implicitly defends his role in them. In another work, Late Memorable Providences, relating to Witchcraft and Possession (1689), Mather describes the "witchcraft" of Irish washerwoman Goody Glover, which was partly responsible for spreading the hysteria surrounding witchcraft through the colony of New England, resulting in the death of many innocent people. 

Another title is one of the most famous English witchcraft trials, by virtue of a thorough account of the presiding judge Matthew Hale. Rose Cullender and Amy Duny, two elderly widows, were indicted on thirteen counts of "malevolent" witchcraft. According to this account, respected jurist and legal scholar Hale did not doubt "That there were such Creatures as Witches ... For First, the Scriptures had affirmed so much. Secondly, The wisdom of all Nations had provided Laws against such Persons, which is an Argument of their confidence of such a Crime....And desired them, strictly to observe their Evidence; and desired the great God of Heaven to direct their Hearts in this weighty thing they had in Hand: For to Condemn the Innocent, and to let the Guilty go free, were both an Abomination to the Lord."

For images and more witch trials, see our new Tumblr site...

   - Barbara Berdahl, Special Collections Assistant Librarian

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