The Cornell Club of Ithaca Lecture Series

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Program Description

About this event:

Professor Mary Beth Norton, the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History, and immediate past president of the American Historical Association, reexamines the Salem Witch Trials in a startlingly original, meticulously researched, and utterly riveting lecture.  In 1692, the people of Massachusetts were living in fear, and not solely of satanic afflictions. Horrifyingly violent Indian attacks had all but emptied the northern frontiers of settlers, and many traumatized refugees - including the main accusers of witches - had fled to communities like Salem. Meanwhile the colony's leaders, defensive about their own failure to protect the frontier, pondered how God's people could be suffering at the hands of savages. Struck by the similarities between what the refugees had witnessed and what the witchcraft "victims" described, many were quick to see a vast conspiracy of the Devil (in league with the French and the Indians) threatening New England on all sides. By providing this essential context to the famous events, and by casting her net well beyond the borders of Salem, Professor Norton sheds new light on one of the most perplexing and fascinating periods in our history.

Registration is limited to 50 people, with a registration fee of $10 per person. Registration fees are tax deductible and go directly in support of the Arlene Sadd ’34 Endowed Cornell Traditions Fellowship in support of an Ithaca-area student. Register at

For additional information contact Kim Todt at