The Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693 represent a dark time in America's history, but also offer many opportunities for understanding the nation's past. For the historian, the trials offer a wealth of information for studying this period. The 1000 or so manuscripts which have survived show historians how people of this time pronounced, spelled and wrote their language, how they interacted with others, how Puritanism expressed itself socially, and how the colony's legal system functioned. They also enable historians to study the persecution of women in this era and their social and religious roles in the wider community. On a deeper level, the Salem Witch Trials are a stark reminder of the damage that can result from unchecked intolerance and persecution.