Student Research Projects

The Language of the Salem Witch Trials: How Issues of Ministerial Control Shaped the Events of Mass Hysteria.

Student Bethany Bayles
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department History


This paper argues that the language that ministers used throughout their sermons largely influenced the events that occurred in Salem in 1691 and 1692. The Salem community was highly religious and ministers had a considerable amount of power within this community. Therefore, I argue that this influence may have aided in how long the hysteria lasted. Through their sermons, ministers encouraged ordinary lay people to go out and seek the "witches" and return order to what was quickly becoming a chaotic situation. Without this encouragement, it is likely that the witch hunt would have died out much quicker than it did and the fate of the 19 individuals executed in the Salem witch trials may have been drastically different.


Phi Alpha Theta Conference - March 31, 2012