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Online Class: Salem Witch Trials

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Course Description

The trials, and the ultimate executions, of many so-called witches in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 is one of the most widely known events in American history. In the past three centuries, historians have wrestled with those tragic events and have written as much about them as other seminal events in our nation's history, such the Revolutionary War. But, the Salem Witch Trials did not lead to a great transformation in our country, like the Revolutionary War or the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Despite this, the Salem Witch Trials have intrigued and fascinated us for centuries.

This course begins with a historical overview of the environment in Salem in 1692. An examination of the way life was like in Colonial Salem will provide a backdrop to the tensions and circumstances that led to so much unrest. We will then take a look at the specific series of events that led to the accusations of witchcraft and the beginning of the trials. 

This course will also profile the people who accused others of witchcraft, and it will examine those accused of the crime. Careful attention will be paid to the legal proceedings used in the trials, how they were influenced by prominent members of society, and the roles played by the ministers and judges. This comprehensive course will conclude with a look at how the trials ultimately came to an end and examine the long-lasting effects they had in American history. 

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  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

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Course Lessons

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Lesson 1. Salem in the 1600s. Part 1

In this course, we will examine how historians have attempted to explain this mystery, and we will evaluate the facts that have been recorded. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Review Article: New England Colonies
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2. Salem in the 1600s. Part 2

Many historians observed that the fascination, or preoccupation, with witchcraft in villages like Salem offered a very convenient excuse for local governments to refrain from attempting to resolve the underlying problems of poverty and other social concer 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Witches, Witchcraft and Supernatural Beings; The Reverend Samuel Parris
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3. Samuel Parris

The villagers did not know it at the time, but Samuel Parris would prove to be one of the most prominent figures in the Salem Witch Trial history. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Review Article: Historical Sites of Danvers
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4. The Suspicion of Witchcraft

A typical New England mother and father in the late 1600s could expect at least one of their children to die due to serious illness; it was not uncommon for children to be seriously ill. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Review Article: What Started the Salem Witch Trials
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5. The Accusers

If Betty Parris was the daughter of a poor farmer or from a peasant family, the entire episode of her illness might have gone completely unnoticed by the residents of Salem Village. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Whatever happened to the accusers from the Salem witch trials?; Afflicted and Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6. The Magistrates and the Suspects

Parris did believe in the power of witches, but he knew that he was a relative newcomer to Salem. He wanted others to take up the charge of the witch hunt. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Chronology Of Events Relating To The Salem Witchcraft Trials; Witchcraft in Salem
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7. Judges, Ministers, and the Law

The new governor of Massachusetts, William Phips, created a special court to hear the cases of witchcraft. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Sir William Phips; Cotton Mather's
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8. Bridget Bishop

Reputation was a very important quality in Salem in 1692. Bridget Bishop's reputation in Salem in 1692 could be described as infamous. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Review 2 Articles: Bridget Bishop; The True History of Bridget Bishop and #8211; An Interesting Toronto/Felt Link to the Salem Witch Trials
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9. Rebecca Nurse

Unlike Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse could boast of all of these blessings, old age, health, a good life, piety, and respect. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Review Article: Examination of Rebecca Nurse of Salem Village
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10. The Conclusion of the Trials

People were suspecting that the wrong people were being punished for crimes they did not commit. 54 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Take Poll: What is your opinion of this course?
  • Take Survey: Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Exam
  • Complete: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: Salem Witch Trials
Course Number: 8900204
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: General Education
CEU Value: 0.4 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: C. Michael McKenna
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Duration: Continuous: Enroll anytime!
Course Fee: $50.00 (no CEU Certification) || with CEU Certification: $75.00

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Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe Salem in the 1600s.
  • Identify Samuel Parris.
  • Know the suspicion of witchcraft during this period of time.
  • Identify the accusers and their arguments.
  • Know the magistrates and the suspects.
  • Describe the judges, ministers, and the law.
  • Identify Bridget Bishop and Rebecca Nurse and their roles in the Salem Witch Trials, and
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Student Testimonials

  • "I particularly enjoyed the videos because they reinforced the text lesson and added a greater degree of drama. I both read the lesson and watched the videos and I feel that was a very effective way to learn the material....The course was extremely interesting and the instructor was very responsive. He never failed to comment on my test and essay results and often gave me additional ideas to ponder." -- Paula P.
  • "This course helped me understand colonial life better. I would recommend it to others." -- Angela G.
  • "All great!" -- Matthew A.

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