As editor-in-chief of the project to re-transcribe legal documents pertaining to the Salem witch trials, I will be using this web page to call attention to significant errors that have been discovered in the current main printed source for such materials, The Salem Witchcraft Papers (published in 1977). Some of the errors and omissions in this edition are already known within the scholarly community, while new ones are emerging as the transcription process proceeds. Eventually, there will be a print text of the new transcriptions in an edition to be published by Cambridge University Press. People finding errors or omissions in that edition will be cordially invited to point them out at this site.
The column at this site will begin by publishing known errors and omissions in The Salem Witchcraft Papers. At an appropriate time, newly discovered errors will follow. Additionally, the column will be used to point out errors about the Salem trials that appear in print texts. The purpose of pointing out these errors will never be to embarrass the authors of them and will always reflect to the extent possible issues of fact rather than interpretation. The hope is that scholars will appreciate an opportunity to correct their mistakes, something they usually cannot do in print texts. So that there is no appearance of trying to denigrate the work of others, I will begin this feature by addressing errors I have made in print. I will also welcome comments from other scholars pointing out their own errors as well as errors of others. I emphasize again that the purpose of this is to keep scholarly information up to date for those seriously interested in doing research on the trials or in generally learning about them.
|1. SWP gives Incorrect date for Tituba's indictment (SWP, III, 755). Date listed as May 1692 should be May 1693.|
|2. SWP omits the examination of Giles Corey among many other omissions of material available elsewhere. For a print version of the examination see Samuel G. Drake, The Witchcraft Delusion in New England, 3 vols. (1866); reprinted (New York: Burt Franklin, 1970, III, pp. 169-173.. For other omitted documents that have been published elsewhere, see Richard B. Trask, "The Devil Hath Been Raised" (Danvers, MA:Yeoman Press, 1997), pp. 152 - 164.|
|3. The deposition of John Lee, SWP, II, p. 535 is assigned a date of April 11. No manuscript or other evidence exists to support this dating. As of now, the dating remains unknown..|
|4.SWP confuses testimony give by John Westgate. It is against Alice Parker and not Mary Parker (SWP II, 632-33). See Bernard Rosenthal, Salem Story, p. 235n25 and p. 254n8 for clarification.|
5. SWP confuses testimony given by John Bullock. It is against Alice Parker and not Mary Parker.(SWP, II, 634). See Salem Story, pp. 254-255n39:
|6. SWP confuses testimony given by Samuel Shattuck. The testimony is against Alice Parker and not Mary Parker (SWP, II, 635-636). See Salem Story, p. 235n25 and 255n40:|
7. SWP transcription drops words from the original
manuscript (SWP, III, 756). The SWP transcription
A corrected transcription is as follows:
The Deposition of Sam: Parris aged about thirty
& nine years
|8. SWP prints a mistaken transcription (SWP, III, 748) "rats" for "cats."|
9. SWP incorrectly identifies Sarah Wilds as a witness against Sarah Good (SWP, II, 364):
(Witnesses v. Sarah Good)
(Note: the following is written vertically across paper which
(Reverse) Complaints Warrants &c
Although the text seems clearly to indicate that the three men are witnesses against Sarah Wilds, the segment placed with the Sarah Good section incorrectly suggests that the three men and Sarah Wilds are witnesses against Sarah Good. No testimony by any of these four people appears anywhere against Sarah Good. Testimony by John and Joseph Andrews does appear against Sarah Wilds. No testimony by William Perkins appears anywhere in SWP, but there is testimony by Zacheus Perkins, who may be related to William, against Sarah Wilds.