Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


William and Mary Quarterly

Third Series, Volume LXV
July 2008

Digital Projects

“Salem Possessed in Retrospect,”

By Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum

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Boyer, Figure 3

Figure V

The first outline of the article Nissenbaum and Boyer planned to write for the William and Mary Quarterly. Over coffee in a campus cafeteria in late summer or early fall 1970, they dashed off this outline on a lunch bag from the cafeteria checkout line. Sketchy as it is, the outline contains in embryonic form key elements of the final structure of Salem Possessed: first, an overall summary of the Salem story and a brief account of the economic and geographic patterns that emerged in 1692; second, a more detailed historical and quantitative analysis of Salem Village’s factional divisions; and third, a final section (headed “Paradigms”) on the complex intrafamilial problems that divided the Putnam family and the equally complex tensions and divisions within Samuel Parris’s own psyche. (The crucial role of Israel Porter and his familial network would become clearer only as research and writing proceeded.)