Understanding the Salem Witch Trials

Salem, Massachusetts in 1691 was the home of a Puritan community with a strict moral code. In addition to the difficulties of farming in a harsh climate with rough terrain, Salem faced economic and political unrest. In this community, a group of girls accused an Indian slave named Tituba of witchcraft. Tituba confessed under pressure from court officials, and her confession ignited a hunt for witches that left 19 men and women hanged, one man pressed to death, and over 150 more people in prison awaiting a trial. In this lesson, students will explore the characteristics of the Puritan community in Salem, learn about the Salem Witchcraft Trials, and try to understand how and why this event occurred.

Guiding Questions

What was life like in Puritan New England?

What are some possible explanations for the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts?

Learning Objectives

Describe some of the important elements of life in Puritan New England

Create a timeline of the events of the Salem Witch Trials

Understand the concept of multiple interpretations of history