I need reliable sources about Puritanism and the Salem Witch Trials for a research paper.I am writing a research paper for my English class about "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black...

I need reliable sources about Puritanism and the Salem Witch Trials for a research paper.

I am writing a research paper for my English class about "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  In my first paragraph, I am going to give some background on Puritan society before I get into analyzing the stories.  I am having trouble finding sources, though.

This is the kind of information I need some sources for:

One of the major problems of Puritanism was that it was difficult to tell the elect from the damned.  Because of this, sin was greatly punished.  For fear of punishment and excommunication, Puritans hid their sin.  Because of the prevalence of secret sin, suspicion abounded.  The Puritans were hypocrites in that they were suspicious of others and saw them as sinful, while they neglected to realize their own sinfulness.  This is shown slightly differently in each short story.

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your question and explanation makes it sound like you are trying to provide the most honest answers to whatever your research questions are. I applaud you for that.

When researching any topic and trying to get to the truth, it is important to know the difference between primary and secondary source documents.

You want to look for journals, pictures, and transcripts of court proceedings because no one has edited these or impaired their meaning.

Use some of these words in your googling:

transcripts of salem witch trials, primary source documents salem witch trials, puritan diary, puritan journal...

If you know some names of real Puritans from the era, see if they have journals that have been put on the net. The Crucible did use character names that were real people from the era: Rebecca Nurse, John Proctor, Sarah Good...

Good Luck!

 Check out this link below... all primary sources.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think your idea for the introductory paragraph is an excellent way to begin your analysis. Puritianism had a profound effect on Nathaniel Hawthorne and as a result it manifested itself in much of his literary work. One of Hawthorne's ancestors was involved with the Salem trialsand because it bothered him so much he added the 'w' to his last name in hope that he could distance himself from that ancestry. The following suggestions will assist you in developing your introduction:

1. The Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather is the account of Martha Carrier's witchcraft trial.

2. Sinners in the Hands of Angry Gods by Jonathan Edwards

Both give accurate assessments of the Puritian ideology and mindset. In addition check out:


coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might find 'Witchcraft and Puritanism' helpful in finding sources for a research project on  'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Minister's Black Veil' by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have included a link to an excerpt below. Indeed, there are some theories that suppressed drives and needs can lead to psychological disorders and strange manifestations of odd behaviors. You might want to point out that there are other theories first, before launching into your own research findings - for example one theory says that the two young girls may have ingested contaminated wheat grains - the ergot is toxic and can cause delusions which could have been misinterpreted as witch-like. Other possibilties are hysteria or hoaxing. In any case, the historical background is essential:

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of a research site for the Salem Witch Trials in particular, there is a site I like to use with my classes that was created and maintained by National Geographic.  Whenever researching on the internet it's always difficult to assess whether or not the material you find is accurate and reliable to use as a source.  Plus, there is an ENORMOUS amount of historically false information on the internet.  I usually have my students search for sites maintained by universities (.edu endings with known university names) or government (.gov such as the National Archives or Library of Congress).

Hope this helps.

lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are a few more sources that you might find helpful to you:




What is your working thesis for this paper? A better ides of what theory you intend to examone or "prove" as the case may be will better assist you in directing your research to relevant materials.



litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Sometimes it's hard to zero in on exactly what you need. Try using more narrow search terms such as "sin in puritainism" or "punishment and puritans" and you might get better results. Here's an essay written on the first one. Remember, site it don't copy it! http://bronski.net/works/hawthorne.html
jacobadam01 | Student

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unashamedofhim116 | Student

My thesis is:

In “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hawthorne shows how suspicion and hypocrisy leads to the isolation and gloom characteristic of Puritan society.

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