Margo Burns

The Capital Crime of Witchcraft: What the Primary Sources Tell Us

On first impression, the witchcraft trials of the Colonial era may seem to have been nothing but a free-for-all, fraught with hysterics. This presentation explores an array of primary sources from the witchcraft prosecutions in seventeenth century New England. Documents from the Salem witchcraft trials and other cases in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut detail the sequence of events in witchcraft prosecutions, from initial formal complaints to warrants for execution, and reveal the methodical process and legal logic used by courts trying these capital crimes. Facsimiles of the original legal manuscripts from cases against Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Martha Corey, John Willard, Bridget Bishop, Martha Carrier, Samuel Wardwell, Eunice Cole, Rachel Fuller, Mercy Desborough, and Elizabeth Clawson will be shown.

[Recorded August 13, 2022.]

Margo Burns, AB, MA

Margo Burns, AB, MA, ( | is the Project Manager and Associate Editor of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt (, published in 2009 by the Cambridge University Press, the definitive comprehensive record of legal documents pertaining to the Salem witchcraft trials, organized in chronological order.

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