Holy conjuring : religion and the creation of the colonial American witch, 1647-1706

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Hensell, Lisa M.
Seefeldt, Douglas, 1964-
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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My project, Holy Conjuring: Religion and the Creation of the American Witch, 1647-1706, (http://lmhensell.iweb.bsu.edu/holyconjuring/) is a project that examines the influence of religion and gender on witchcraft in the colonies of Colonial British America. This project contributes to the knowledge of witchcraft since it looks at the colonial world as a whole instead of focusing solely on Salem, Massachusetts. This project utilized various primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include witchcraft cases (from Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia), sermons (from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey), and colony charters. Most of the case documentation comes from Samuel Wyllys’ diary. Samuel Wyllys served as magistrate of the General Court in Connecticut. Many of the cases came from Matthew Grant’s diary from the Connecticut State Library’s website. Matthew Grant was the first town surveyor and second town clerk Windsor, Connecticut. The secondary sources encompassed well-known works on witchcraft in the colonies and Europe. Tool such as Voyant, TimelineJS, and ArcGIS Map Journal were used in order to better understand how religion combined with gender influenced witchcraft cases through time, space, and text. Each tool contains data that is made into an easy-to-interpret visualization for viewers. These tools allowed me to examine and present various sources in a way they have never before been able to be showcased. By conducting this digital history research, my project contributes an overall image of Colonial America’s witchcraft. Religion was a main contribution to witch trials and this is evident by viewing the colonies with no established religion. There are a few, if any, witch cases with no established religion. Witchcraft was not a mono-casual event, but this project explores one cause in depth.