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Documenting the Salem Witch Trials

            Between the years 1692 and 1693, many legal documents and records were found regarding Salem witch trials and their prosecutions in Massachusetts. Decades have passed and through the years, the versions of these trials that were published went from being single documents to creating an actual booklet of the legal records and documents. There is a new edition of these records being re-developed to where they are much more accurate and comprehensive than the previous records found of the Salem witch hunt. This edition is different from other versions because it is organized differently and also documents will be dated according to when it was being used and edited, and twenty-four recorders will be identified. .
             In 1864, W. Elliot Woodward published one of the first collections of these records and documents. However, one of the problems with his edition included how he only published the documents from one county and not from all. In addition, a typescript set of transcriptions that were produced by the Federal Works Progress Administration in 1938 was published. This typescript included documents from many sources such as the Essex County Court that were previously published by Woodward, Boston Library, Massachusetts State Archives, New York Public Library, and Peabody Essex Museum. This was very popular and was considered the most comprehensive edition for almost four decades. .
             In 1977, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum created an upgraded transcript, it was a modernized version and had sixteen manuscripts added to the Boston Public Library and found some other documents that were missed in the Massachusetts State Archives. Throughout the years, people began to learn that many of the original papers were never really seen, and many of the cases were discredited because they had documentation missing or barely any kind of record at all. After further examining as much documentation as they could, they were able to tie some of the documents together in which helped with chronological orders as well as the handwriting of the recorders in the courts.

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