Identification And Evaluation Of Source: The Connecticut Witch Trials

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Section 1: Identification and Evaluation of Sources This investigation will attempt to answer the question “How did the causes of the 1647 Connecticut witch trials differ from those of the 1692 Salem witch trials?” Two sources that were crucial to this investigation, and will be evaluated, are Cynthia Wolfe Boynton’s Connecticut Witch Trials: The First Panic in the New World and Chadwick Hansen’s Witchcraft at Salem. Boynton’s Connecticut Witch Trials was the first source written that solely focuses on the witch trials of Connecticut, beginning in 1647. For this reason it is valuable because it is the most in-depth resource available that concentrates on the Hartford witch trials. Additionally, Boynton originated from Milford, Connecticut, …show more content…

The recent origin of this book is constricting because it has not been widely accredited by historians who study seventeenth century witch trials. Furthermore, Boynton is not an expert in this topic: her field of study in school was medicine and science, not history. In her introduction, Boynton stated her biased viewpoint that the Connecticut witch trials were much more deadly than those of Salem. This bias may have caused her to exaggerate some of the details of the witch trials and thus inaccurately portray the content she analyzes. In contrast to Boynton’s work, Chadwick Hansen’s Witchcraft at Salem concentrates only on the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. It is a valuable source due to the fact that Hansen earned a Ph.D. American History from Yale and the University of Minnesota, giving him a wealth of knowledge in the subject that this source focuses on. Additionally, the content is rich with insight as well as with primary sources such as transcripts from the trials, copies of the town’s historical documents, and drawings from Salem during the …show more content…

The death of 8-year-old Elizabeth Kelly in 1662 and her autopsy provided more fuel for the witch-hunt hysteria (Klein p.2). According to Boynton, “those who attended the examination of Elizabeth’s body may not have been familiar with the physical changes that occur after death, including the time frame for rigor mortis […] and the occurrence of livor mortis,” (Boynton 38). Bryan Rossiter, the doctor who performed the autopsy, noted strange “preternatural” findings on her body that were in fact “natural occurrences for an almost week-old corpse,” (Boynton 39). The findings that Rossiter published were gruesome, including large red spots on her cheek, black and blue arms, a terrible stench, and stiffness of the body (Boynton 39). This report highly distraught the citizens of Connecticut and stirred further unrest and more prosecutions of witches (Klein

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