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Witchcraft and Quakerism a study in social history /

Because it is a broader source it will mean picking apart more than some of the other sources but it still provides much insight into the time period. In this book he elaborates on the multiple factors that culminated into what we now know of as the Salem Witch Trials. In the article he presented the religious and political tensions within the community which spurred on much of the conflict but in his book he does not just focus on religion as a factor.

He does not blame one thing on the hysteria outbreak, rather he highlights all of the major stressors from the time and shows how this unique combination of belief, folklore, and internal struggle all played a role in the events that occurred in Salem. Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England was an incredibly helpful resource because it was an early book specifically focusing on why the Salem Witch Trials often times focused on women.

She also sets out to show how the witchcraft folklore, the trial proceeding, and punishments differed for men and women. Karlsen similarly delves into why women were often the focus when it came to witchcraft accusations. As opposed to focusing specifically on the events in Salem she looks into New England throughout the 17 th century and discusses Salem but also other witch craft cases, this couples well with Damned Women as they focus on similar questions as to why women often played the role of the sinner, disproportionately so to men.

For the purpose of this paper it is also important to understand women and witchcraft as a whole as well as the Puritan religion. Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America, a collection of essays by Elizabeth Reis, focuses on witchcraft in the United States as a whole. This resource does not really discuss the Salem Witch Trials at all but it gives background to the Puritan religion and it also reflects on the possible reasoning men had for emphasizing certain traits in ideal Puritan women.

Elaine G. Breslaw attempts to give the reader more understanding about Tituba, her roots, and her role in the trial. Tituba blended folklore from her home with that of the English and Puritan folklore which ended up being unique from other witch hunts, both before and after Salem. For instance she speculates that Tituba was aware of other trials for potential witches that occurred in Boston. This source is useful in detailing the folklore that shaped the trials and also showing how Tituba, as an outsider, very easily became a target of the investigations.

Street Corner Society

Roach tells the story of the Salem Witch Trials through six women played a major role in the trials. Roach talks about how there are still gaps in records and things that we do not know about those who were a part of the events and wanted to shed light on some of these women. She makes the argument that much of what people know, or think they know, about these women boils down to stereotypes or might be more reflective of some of the fiction based on the trials, and by getting a better understanding of who some of these women really were as people we can understand the trials better altogether.

Much like the book on Tituba, this book speculates on the motives and thoughts of the women she is talking about. Although these speculations are not factual the majority of the book will help to shed light on how some of the women tried for witchcraft were outsiders in some fashion and also shows what motives might be at play for those who accused these women.

The historians criticize the body of work that has already been written and discusses how the majority of primary source material they pull from are the court records and sermons from the church, but little has been done to research the villagers. The writers believe there was a great social and economic divide in Salem and that played a role in the accusations by looking at the different social groups and feuds in Salem it could give a better understanding on the events that transpired. The primary sources that were researched were the court records, although they do not reflect much of the gender issues surrounding the trials and Puritans in general.

Many of the quotes used come from or are descriptions of those who were accused in the trials, because of the time the language and grammar are sometimes hard to understand. There are many gaps in the overall historiography, there is still a lot of Puritan writings to come by. Some of the sources focus on societal, economic, political, and cultural lenses. Although they did help to strengthen the research they were not the focal point, so for the purpose of this research they were not focused on.

Because of how complex the trials were, and how many factors were involved, there are so many perspectives and arguments that can be made. The majority of the sources looked at did not necessarily focus on gender involved in the trials but the majority of them touched upon it because, the majority of the accused were women. Religion played a major role in the lives of these settlers in Salem. The Puritans hoped that this new world would bring them a place free of religious persecution, a place where they hoped to set themselves apart from their homeland in Europe.

When Samuel Parris came to the town it meant that they finally had a minister who could perform these services, but he was also coming into a town that was divided and there would still be opposition to Parris from some of these certain factions. The members of the Salem Township church were small, when Parris arrived in there were only twenty-five members, almost half of them from one family. Many of the other villagers were either members at neighboring congregations or they were not members of the church at all. The first major talks about the devil in Salem in fact did not stem from witchcraft scares it stemmed from the political upheavals between Parris and those who had reason to oppose him.

Like other young ministers of his day, Parris was a sacramentalist. Her soul specifically chose the devil, instead of passively waiting for Christ, and she purposely allowed the devil to use her body. Women were meant to be passive and obedient, signs of the opposite made them more deviant in Puritan society, and potentially more sinister. Many settlers brought many of their superstitions and folklore over to the new world with them. This coupled with interactions with Native Americans and folklore from other cultures, like Tituba whom was speculated to be from the Caribbean, meant that there was a blending of folklore centering around witchcraft.

The book, of course, was an artifact of literate societies only and the Devil a part of Christian theology. They would not be found in the pre-colonial Amerindian or African cultures. But the strong link to Satanism, the evil force, with its promise of power over others, was surprisingly rate in the English folk tradition or in New England. Few persons giving testimony in witchcraft cases in Massachusetts mentioned the devil.

The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty if they would be some of the few chosen to be saved was enough to make some people look towards fortune telling to get hints as to what their fate might be. The shape of the blob, they hoped, would reveal something about their future lives. The girls thought they saw tragedies in the form of an egg white that took the shape of a coffin. Later on when the girls were in the middle of their fits and many could not figure out what was the cause other types of magic were taken up to hopefully counteract the actions of the witch.

The technique was of English origin, but the assumptions behind the experiment were widespread among most people.

Abandoned Quaker Oat Mansion's Unwholesome Secret

So although this endeavor may have been for the good of the girls, it also put them in danger and implicated them as witches. Now women had some more flexibility and opportunities to play major roles within the Puritan community, not to the extent of the Quaker religion but,. Although women could not participate in the congregational governance of the churches, they experienced conversion, they signed the covenant and joined the church more frequently than their husbands , they studied the scriptures, they baptized and instructed their children, they used their considerable influences to promote religiosity in their households and communities.

New England Puritanism could offer women spiritual fulfillment and even particular opportunities for organizing and controlling their family relationships. Some of this may have been due to the fact that their communities were so small women needed to play more of a role in day to day life but they had flexibility none the less. Women took on more economic responsibilities sometimes helping or fully running businesses women men were gone or their husbands passed away.

However being full members in the church meant that they were able to constantly hear about how ministers in the Puritan faith felt about what a Puritan woman should be. Thus in their use of female imagery to define humility, Puritan ministers did more than encourage wives to be submissive to their husbands; they all gave their listeners and readers a clear picture of their humble attitudes essential to all forms of Christian activity. Thomas Shepard used images of female humility to control his fear of abandonment and to represent his desire for love.

John Cotton used images of female humility to represent both the restraint and the fulfillment of his ambition. Whatever their reasons, women in the community took this to heart, especially since they had more cause to worry than others, Puritans believed that women were weaker and would be more likely to sin than men.

That coupled with the Puritan belief that the Devil was very much a real presence in their lives made the witch scare all the more shocking and widespread. The combination of a feminine soul and a weak female body made their situation worse, and puritans believed they were too susceptible to the devil. So according to Puritan beliefs women were much more likely to be witches than men, this was not farfetched from the other witch trials, women always outweighed the men.

One article on witchcraft even escribed guilt to women based on their female anatomy,. One witch suspect in the Swiss canton of Fribourg contemptuously chided her judges for their naivete about female anatomy. Being free of all sins, during Puritan times, was already difficult to prove but this would have been close to impossible for women whom already were believed to carry sin with them because of their weak nature. There was a definite distinction between witches and sinners but there was a grey area as well, and a woman, anxious and worried about damnation might see any of her sins as a sign that she had unknowingly colluded with the devil.

There may be only several hundred Quaker pagans, but among American Quakers, their presence can be distinctly felt. Pagans have been generally joining the liberal fourth branch, the Friends General Conference, which counts 30, members in North America, including Morgan-Appel.

Liberal Quakers are less tied to the Christianity and instead hold established Quaker practices, such as unprogrammed pastor-less meetings, as the basis of their faith. Because of that flexibility, many liberal Quakers no longer see Jesus as divine, and some don't believe in God at all. Paganism generally refers to nature-based religions that pre-date both Christianity and Judaism.

It may seem strange that pagans would join the Quakers, which began in the s with strong anti-pagan sentiment. Founder George Fox even altered the days of the week because of their pagan roots. On the other hand, the two traditions share many similarities. Both are non-hierarchical and place a strong emphasis on internal divinity. In fact, as modern paganism rose in popularity in the s, many pagan groups looked to Quakers as a model of survival without a nucleus of control. Morgan-Appel says many pagans openly embrace Quakerism, but Quakers who espouse pagan beliefs have long operated under the radar.

That may be changing, however. But it also carries a price. Due to the accommodation of non-Christian beliefs in many meetings, many Quakers report that Christian Friends feel slighted. Witnessing about Jesus in Olive's meeting has become infrequent. We talk about God, but we don't really put a name to him or her. In an effort to reinforce his connection to Jesus, Olive holds a monthly Christian prayer group at his house after his Quaker meeting.

Margaret Mattson

Morgan-Appel says that such fears are common. She has seen tensions flare between the two groups, from pagan-influenced Quaker weddings to unfair fees charged to use meeting halls for Quaker-pagan gatherings. Marshall Massey, a conservative Quaker in Omaha, Neb. Massey said losing Quakerism's Christian heritage cuts away at its unifying belief system and makes it prone to dissolution.

Nevertheless, it would be un-Quakerly to try to halt the process. When we humans try to fix one another, we just make things much, much worse. She says many pagans find Quakerism attractive because it allows them to appear more mainstream. Tryntje Helfferich, ed. European History Quarterly. What did Thomas Plume think about witchcraft? Reconstructing the intellectual outlook of a little-known 17th-century English sceptic. Essex archaeology and history : the transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society.

Clues: A Journal of Detection. The Journal of Modern History.

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Schindler, Rebellion, community and custom in early modern Germany, translated by Pamela E. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, First published in German as Widerspenstige Leute. Continuity and Change. A long disenchantment.


  1. The Witches of Salem.
  2. Full text of "The Quakers in the American colonies".
  3. Where Were the Accused Imprisoned?!
  4. Le droit de vieillir (Documents) (French Edition);
  5. Hermann Hesse: A Pictorial Biography.

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Change achieved, change thwarted: religion and society in Reformation Europe. The Historical Journal. To wear a virgin's wreath: gender and problems of conformity in early modern Germany.


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