Subject: Burn her, she's a witch . . . Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1993 01:45:00 GMT This might be t

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Subject: Burn her, she's a witch . . . From: (snopes) Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1993 01:45:00 GMT This might be the longest running unresolved discontinuous thread in a.f.u. (That is, the subject came up, no definitive answer was provided, and the topic died, never to return.) It has to do with the FAQ entries: >F. Compensation paid to kin of Salem witches up to 1957 (per _The Economist_). >T. Name of last alleged witch was cleared in 1957. The thread started when the sharp-eyed Peter van der Linden spotted a gaffe in an article about the Salem witchcraft trials that appeared in _The Economist_ some time in 1991. The article's author, Barbara Durr, claimed that descendants of accused witches were paid compensation that continued until as late as 1957. Mr. van der Linden, knowing a good canard when he saw one, promptly fired off a missive to Ms. Durr inquiring as to where she got her facts. Unfortunately, Peter's pen was not in fine form that day, and all he got for his efforts was a dismissive form letter. Meanwhile, I did some checking in the library, and found that although there were court proceedings to clear the accused witches' names ongoing as late as 1957, it appeared that no one had actually been paid compensation any later than the 18th century. Then I too wrote to Ms. Durr, and being slightly less contumacious than Mr. van der Linden, I received a hand-written letter in reply. Ms. Durr said that she had used Dr. Richard Gardner of Columbia University as her source, and suggested that I check out his book _Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited_. I looked for the book, couldn't find it, and eventually left the matter to languish in my pending folder. In a recent fit of energetiveness, however, I finally wrote to Dr. Gardner and asked him if he could provide some further detail about Ms. Durr's mysterious claim. His response: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard A. Gardner, M.D. Creskill, NJ June 14, 1993 Dear Mr. Mikkelson: Please excuse this long delay in responding to your letter of May 13, 1993. It reached me via the circuitous route of Columbia University. I am embarrassed. Barbara Durr did quote me correctly in her article in _The Economist_. In my book, _Sex Abuse Hysteria: Salem Witch Trials Revisited_, I do state (page 130, see attached photocopy): "In subsequent years survivors of the accused were granted redress and compensation for their losses, and such compensation continued until as recently as 1957." Actually, I had misquoted from a book by Katherine W. Richardson, _The Salem Witch Craft Trials_. She states on page 24 that *compensation* was paid down to the year 1711, but redress (but not compensation) as late as 1957. She does not describe compensation in 1957. (I have photocopied the pertinent material from that book.) I will certainly correct this in the next edition and do appreciate your bringing this to my attention. With regard to difficulties you may have had locating a copy of the book, I am enclosing the publisher's flyer in case it might be of interest to you. Sincerely, Richard A. Gardner, M.D. Clinical Professor of Child Psychiatry Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It's not your ordinary person who will not only admit his mistake, but also provide a photocopy of it as well. Just goes to show you what an offhand comment in a.f.u. can lead to. - snopes +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | | | "There have always been a lot of people who pretended to read The New | | Yorker, and didn't really read it . . . who fake the stance, 'Oh, I have | | just *so* missed the 35,000-word pieces about zinc.'" | | | | - Tina Brown | +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | David P. Mikkelson Calif. State Univ., Northridge Northridge, CA USA | +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+


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