before-salem

Author Talk & Book Signing with Richard S. Ross III

Tuesday, October 24, 6pm
Hartford History Center
Hartford Public Library, 3rd Floor
500 Main Street, Hartford, CT

Richard S. Ross III, formerĀ Head Librarian and retired Professor EmeritusĀ of Trinity College, will be discussing his book, Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley 1647-1663. Signed copies of the book will also be available for purchase.

This program is presented in partnership with the Watkinson Library at Trinity College.

About the book: Decades before the Salem Witch trials, 11 people were hanged as witches in the Connecticut River Valley. The advent of witch hunting in New England was directly influenced by the English Civil War and the witch trials in England led by Matthew Hopkins, who pioneered “techniques” for examining witches. This history examines the outbreak of witch hysteria in the Valley, focusing on accusations of demonic possession, apotropaic magic and the role of the clergy.

Although the hysteria was eventually quelled by a progressive magistrate unwilling to try witches, accounts of the trials later influenced contemporary writers during the Salem witch hunts. The source of the document “Grounds for Examination of a Witch” is identified.