Daily Life during the Salem Witch Trials
by K. David Goss
June 2012, 248pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-37458-6
$70, £54, 61€, A96
eBook Available: 978-0-313-37459-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Though few know it, the horror of the Salem Witch Trials caused a profound change in American jurisprudence, one with repercussions that still affect those charged with crimes today. It was as a result of these infamous trials that the legal system shifted from the British perspective of presumed guilt of the accused to the celebrated American presumption of innocence.

There are few episodes in American history as interesting and controversial as the Salem Witch Trials. This work provides a revealing analysis of what it was like to live in Massachusetts during that time, creating a nuanced profile of New England Puritans and their culture.

What was it like to live in the colony of Massachusetts during the last decade of the 17th century, the decade famed for the Salem Witch Trials? Daily Life during the Salem Witch Trials answers that question, offering a vivid portrait essential to anyone seeking to understand the traumatic events of the time in their proper historical context.

The book begins with a historical overview tracing the development of the Puritan experiment in the Massachusetts colony from 1620 to 1692. It then explores the cultural values and day-to-day concerns of Puritan society in the late-17th century, including trends and patterns of behavior in family life, household activities, business and economics, political and military responsibilities, and religious belief. Each chapter interprets a different aspect of daily life as it was experienced by those who lived through the social crisis of the witch trials of 1692–93, helping readers better comprehend how the history-making events of those years could come to pass.


  • Firsthand accounts describing daily life in late-17th-century Massachusetts
  • A chronology tracing Massachusetts colonial history from its beginnings in 1620 to the era of the Salem Witch Trials
  • Black-and-white illustrations drawn from archival and museum collections depicting individuals, places, and events contemporaneous with the trials
  • Maps of Massachusetts colony and Salem Village
  • A glossary of key terms and phrases relevant to a study of late-17th-century daily life
  • A comprehensive, annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources readers can use to further explore the subject of daily life in late-17th-century New England
K. David Goss is assistant professor of history at Gordon College, Wenham, MA. He holds an MA from Tufts University and is currently a PhD candidate in American and New England studies at Boston University. His published works include Greenwood's The Salem Witch Trials: A Reference Guide, as well as Officers and Soldiers of the French and Indian War; Maritime Salem in the Age of Sail; Treasures of a Seaport Town: Beverly Historical Society; and Salem: Cornerstones of a Historic City.


"From what they ate for breakfast to what version of the Bible they read, David Goss has crafted a much needed overview of the everyday life of the participants in the Salem witch trials. One cannot hope to understand the course of these tragic events without this important perspective." —Emerson W. Baker, Professor of History, Salem State University; Author of The Devil of Great Island, Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. Supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes provide an in-depth exploration of daily life throughout history.

Each volume provides:
• An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
• Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
• A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
• Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more
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