The Salem Witch Trials: Historical Background to The Crucible
Lesson plans and teaching resources

|Biography| |The Salem Witch Trials| |McCarthyism and the Red Scare| |The Crucible (text)|

Sites related to Puritanism and the Salem Witch Trials

17 Signs That You'd Qualify as a Witch in 1692
This article refers to the laws and evidence used during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. A good nonfiction piece to accompany reading the play.

Arthur Miller and The Crucible
This first of two lessons in this unit examines the consequences of personal conscience in conflict with rigid societal perceptions of what is "right" in human behavior as this conflict is articulated in The Crucible. Central to this examination is the focus on Puritanism as an embedded strand in the American psyche, infusing attitudes and values that have been both positive and destructive in shaping the American character.

Dramatizing History in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Students examine historical documents related to the Salem trials and compare those facts to incidents in the play. They read the play, act some scenes, analyze Proctor as tragic hero, and write about the play. This unit is very extensive.

An Exploration of The Crucible through Seventeenth-Century Portraits
After reading act 1, students create trading cards to describe and analyze an assigned character. Then they explore portraits of Puritans online to assist them in creating a portrait of the character and present a rationale to explain their work of art.

Famous American Trials: The Salem Witchcraft Trials
The trials from a legal point of view, with an overview, transcripts of testimonies, and other legal documents.

"Half-Hanged Mary"
This poem by Margaret Atwood imaginatively explores the experience of Mary Webster, who was hanged for witchcraft and survived.

The House Where Witchcraft Started
The modest home of Rev. Samuel Parris is gone now, but this postcard remains.

Salem, Massachusetts
The town that was called Salem during the witch trials is today known as Danvers, Massachusetts. This page shows what Salem might have looked like during the trials. It also provides an aerial view of Salem.

Salem, Massachusetts, Witch Trials
Information and an interesting variety of links related to the trials from the town of Salem.

The Salem Witch Trials, 1692
A brief summary and an eyewitness account of the trial of Martha Corey.

Salem Witchcraft Hysteria
An interactive site in which students become the accused during the Trials. Outstanding graphics based upon historical records. From National Geographic, and a wonderful example of using unique features of Internet technology.

Still Puritan After All These Years
"Do present-day Americans still exhibit, in their attitudes and behavior, traces of those austere English Protestants who started arriving in the country in the early 17th century?" A report on research that suggests we do.

Teaching The Crucible with the New York Times
This generous collection of resources includes reviews of the play from the 1950s, essays by Arthur Miller on why he wrote the play, articles related to recent "witchhunts," reviews of the film, biographies of Miller, and many other related articles on McCarthyism, the historical witch trials and other related newspaper stories.

Teen girls' mystery illness now has a diagnosis: mass hysteria
An informational text to pair with the play. This news report connects events in contemporary life to a possible cause of the Salem witch trials.

Understanding The Crucible
If you're asking your students to research the background of the play, here is the page to start with. This collection of links is divided into five parts: the American colonial period, The Crucible, McCarthyism, Puritanism, and the Salem Witch Trials. A very thorough site!

Victims of Mass Hysteria
In this WebQuest students explore the causes and effects of mass hysteria by researching the Salem Witch Trials, the internment of the Japanese-Americans during WWII, the McCarthy Hearings, and the Robert Roberson case. They write newspaper articles presenting their findings.

Why I wrote The Crucible: An artist's answer to politics
Text of Arthur Miller's essay. Access requires Adobe Reader or compatible application.

Witchcraft in Salem Village: Intersections of Religion and Society
This historical essay points to possible causes of the trials. It also suggests classroom resources and approaches.