All sources, whether primary or secondary, need to be read carefully and critically. Even as you read a textbook or listen to lectures, you should not assume they are “objective.” Points of view and assumptions come with any story about the past. When you read textbooks, books, articles, and attend lectures, ask yourself, what is the author’s argument? What assumptions do they make? What is being emphasized and why? What might be left out or overlooked? What might one argue against this interpretation? Is there a better interpretation? Why?
Witchcraft and Magic Podcasts
The following links are to podcasts about witchcraft and magic.
The Witch Wave Podcast with Pam Grossman https://witchwavepodcast.com/
This is not an exhaustive list of websites related to the history of witchcraft and magic. These are some relevant resources.
Primary sources are those that are closest to a particular event, individual or time in the past. They are made by people who witnessed, experienced, or participated in that event. There are many types of primary sources, including newspaper articles, letters, interviews, autobiographies, court records, pictures, buildings, songs, maps, tools, and clothing. Primary sources are often difficult to read and challenging to understand. It’s important to have a clear sense of the following questions when you turn to them for historical evidence.
- What sort of document is this? When was it written, who was it written for, and why?
- What can you confidently say about the production and purpose of the document just by reading it? Who produced it? What do you know about the author and the audience? Can you tell what the author’s intention was in creating the source?
- What is the document about?
- What topics does it discuss? What is the basic story line? What is the argument?
- What can this document tell us about the past?
- What are the key issues it raises? How does the source speak to the larger political, cultural, economic, social, religious, or intellectual developments at that time?
- How does it compare to other sources or information you have about the same time or issue?
- Is this source credible? Or, do you have to doubt its credibility? And if you doubt it, what does that tell you about the document, its author, and its historical significance?
- What does it make you want to know more about?
- What is missing from this source?
- Does the source seem to produce any silences—in other words, does it ignore the viewpoint of one group of people while it favors another?
- What would you need to know to make better sense of the source?
Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project