Segments in this Video

Introduction: Witch Hunt in Salem (01:26)


In 1692, Puritans in New England believe a devil is among them and anyone might be a witch. Questions about this period in history remain unanswered.

Salem Village, New England (04:02)

In the late 17th century, Puritans establish a devout Christian community. They believe all people are sinful, evil forces seek to cause harm, and the foreign and unknown are dangerous.

Christian Piety (03:52)

Puritans believe biblical doctrine should guide their lives; salvation only comes to the pure. Joy and pleasure are temptation from Satan. Children create a form of folk magic called the Venus glass.

Afflicted Girls (04:54)

In early 1692, the girls in the home of Rev. Samuel Parris begin acting strange. Dr. William Griggs cannot find a physical cause for their behavior. Experts refute claims of ergotism.

White Magic (03:48)

Tituba makes a magic cake for the afflicted girls. Parris pushes the girls to identify their assailant and Betty names the slave with whom they have a close relationship; Tituba often tells the children stories in the kitchen.

Accusations of Witchcraft (04:38)

The Puritans imprison Tituba, but the assaults continue. Tituba claims the devil came to her and she saw nine names in his book. Villagers speculate on witch identities; outsiders are suspect.

Witch Hunt (05:32)

Villagers believe Satan's disciples can disguise themselves as righteous. The numbers of those accused increases, including Rebecca Nurse. Experts discuss the projection of sin.

Spectral Evidence (04:49)

Villagers believe a witch has a specter that can cause harm. Accusers claim spectral visits. Witch trials become a form of entertainment and the afflicted girls are credible witnesses.

Witchcraft Trials (04:59)

Villagers believe one is a witch based on the claims of the afflicted girls; the court accepts flimsy testimony. A committee examines the accused for a witch's mark.

Conviction and Punishment (04:24)

New England does not have a religious court. All those tried plead not guilty and receive a death sentence. Nurse and four other women are hanged. Confession delays trials.

Puritan Community Destruction (05:42)

By the winter of 1692, 25 villagers are dead and over one third of the population is in jail. Critics express concern over the witchcraft trials; Thomas Brattle opposes the hysteria. The Massachusetts governor dissolves the Salem court.

Salem, Massachusetts (03:50)

Today, Salem is a prosperous town. Experts reflect on lessons from the 1692 witch trials and human nature; scapegoating and prejudice continue.

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Witch Hunt in Salem

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In New England in 1692, religious hysteria overcomes the people of the small town of Salem and brings about a ruthless manhunt. At a time when Europe has largely overcome the witch craze, dozens of people are accused of sorcery and executed. To this day, the case of Salem fascinates scholars and artists alike, since the cause of this collective mania remains a mystery. Competing theories name a combination of religious hysteria, aggressively suppressed sexuality, the fear of the “devilish Indians,” common avarice, and the dual worldview of the Puritans. The episode is a watershed for the young colony and one of the darkest chapters in the history of the United States.

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL212801

ISBN: 978-1-64867-993-3

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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