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History of Witchcraft - Research Guide

This guide is intended for the student interested in the history of Witchcraft, not the modern practice of it. It lists reference tools and basic primary source material available in print and online. For a more detailed list of resources for the study of the Medieval period see the Medieval Studies collection page.


  1. Dictionaries & Encyclopedias
  2. Bibliographies
  3. Library Catalogs
  4. Indexes
  5. Chronologies
  6. Biography
  7. Atlases
  8. Primary Sources
  9. Web Portals

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

The encyclopedia of witches and witchcraft. By Rosemary Ellen Guiley. New York : Facts On File, c1999.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: BF1566 .G85 1999]

Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Joseph R. Strayer, editor in chief. New York : Scribner, c1982-1989.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D114 .D5 1982], 13 vols.

Medieval Germany: an encyclopedia. Edited by John M. Jeep. New York ; London : Garland Pub., 2001.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: DD157 .M43 2001]

Encyclopaedia Judaica. Jerusalem, Encyclopaedia Judaica ; [New York], Macmillan.

Encyclopedia of Islam. Leyden, E. J. Brill ltd. Londoa, Luzac & co., 1913 - .

New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967-.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: BX841 .N44 1967], 18 vols.
The 1913 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia is not copyright protected and is available online.


Levack, Brian P. Articles on witchcraft, magic, and demonology : a twelve volume anthology of scholarly articles. New York : Garland Pub., 1992. 12 vol.
Each volume covers a different topic or geographical location.
Volume 4, entitled The literature of witchcraft is a collection of primary source material.
[Van Pelt Library BF1563 .A77 1992]

Melton, J. Gordon. Magic, witchcraft, and paganism in America : a bibliography. New York : Garland Pub., 1992.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: BF1622.U6 M45 1992]

The Witchcraft Bibliography Project - Jeffrey Merrick and Richard M. Golden.
An extensive bibliography of witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and America.

Paetow, Louis John. A Guide to the Study of Medieval History with errata compiled by Gray C. Boyce and an addendum by Lynn Thorndike ; prepared under the auspices of the Medieval Academy of America. Revised and corrected edition. Millwood, N.Y. : Kraus Reprint, 1980.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D117 .P29 1980]
Part I covers General Books, Part II covers the Middle Ages.

Boyce, Gray Cowan. Literature of Medieval History, 1930-1975. Millwood, N.Y. : Kraus International Publications, c1981. 5 vols.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D117 .P29 1980 Suppl]
Continues Paetow's A Guide to the Study of Medieval History.

Medieval Narrative Sources: a Chronological Guide: (with a list of major letter collections). Compiled by Janos M. Bak with the assistance of Heinz Quirin and Paul Hollingsworth. New York: Garland Pub., 1987.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D113 .B33 1987]

Crosby, Everett Uberto. Medieval Studies: a Bibliographical Guide. Amsterdam ; New York: North-Holland New York : Garland Pub., 1983.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CB351 .C76 1983 ]
Arranged by topic and country. Includes entries for bibliographies, reference works, general works and surveys, and collections of sources.

Caenegem, R. C. van. Guide to the Sources of Medieval History. Amsterdam ; New York: North-Holland Pub. Co., 1978. xv, 428 p.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D117 .C2213]
Important guide to medieval publications, collections of primary sources, and reference works.

Library Catalogs

Franklin lists books, journals titles (but not articles within journals), conference proceedings, and other library materials at the Penn Libraries. When looking for works on a topic in Franklin, try searching both by subject heading and by keyword(s).

Franklin includes most of the Library's holdings.

Use Subject Heading searches based on the formal subject headings listed in the four printed volumes of the Library of Congress Subject Headings located at the Van Pelt reference desk. Some sample headings are listed below. Note: LC headings range from the very broad to the very specific.

Witchcraft--Early works to 1800
Witchcraft--France--History--16th century--Sources
Witches--Italy--Venice--History--16th century--Sources
Witchcraft in literature
Mothers--England--Social condition
Magic--Early works to 1800
Demonology--Early works to 1800
Trials (Witchcraft)--Europe--History--Sources
Trials (Witchcraft)--France--History--17th century
Trials (Witchcraft)--Germany--History
Trials (Witchcraft)--Germany--Cologne--History--17th century--Sources

Keyword searches look for the search terms anywhere in the record, i.e. the author, subject, title fields, etc. Once you have found a record of interest, look at the "full view" to see the subject headings assigned to that work.

(witch? or magic?) and england
trials and witchcraft and salem
There are many printed volumes that are collections of primary source materials. To locate these, try subject searches and look for the keyword "sources" within the subject field.
Religious tolerance--[Country]--History--Sources

Or add the word "sources" to a keyword search. Also try adding other words such as: "historiography," "chronicle?", "letter?" OR lettre?

(skey witch? or "religious tolerance") and history and sources

Two services that enable searching of combined library catalogs and direct placement of requests for books not available at Penn.
-  BorrowDirect: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale.
-  E-ZBorrow: Over 40 academic and research libraries in Pennsylvania and nearby states, including: Rutgers, Penn State, Temple, and Pittsburgh.

A large union catalog that includes the holdings of many university, college, and public libraries. Many Philadelphia-area libraries are included in WorldCat.


Indexes and abstracts are used to locate journal articles. Franklin lists journal titles subscribed to by Penn, but does not list articles within journals, newspapers, or other collected works. The Library offers journal article indexes online, and in CD-ROM and print formats.


America: History & Life. 1964-present.
Covers the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.

Historical Abstracts. (online database)
Covers the history of the world (excluding North America) from 1450 to the present. Although 1450 is the general starting date, there are many articles in Historical Abstracts that survey topics from the 12th-15th centuries. Indexes books and journals published since 1973. Excludes book reviews.

International Medieval Bibliography. (online)
Indexes articles on all aspects of Medieval Studies.
See also the printed version at [Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D 111.I684], last five years in Reference; earlier volumes in regular stacks.

ITER: Gateway to the Renaissance. (online database)
Medieval (400-1500) and Renaissance (1300-1700) studies. ITER indexes articles in over 300 scholarly journals. Coverage begins with 1965.

Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index
Previously known as the Medieval Feminist Index, the Index aims to become a reliable guide to the scholarship on women and gender during the Middles Ages, providing timely coverage, a wide range of publications indexed on a regular basis, and a thorough description of each item (in addition to the usual author, title, subjects, and source, MFI includes century, geographic area, descriptions of illustrations and tables, and primary evidence used).

C.R.I.S.: the Combined Retrospective Index Set to Journals in History, 1838-1974. (print index)
Washington : Carrollton Press, 1977-1978.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D 1 .C18], v.1-11.
Indexes articles on the history of the world. Volumes II & III cover Europe. Useful for finding important articles published before most database coverage begins.


ATLA Religion database. (online database)
Evanston, Ill: American Theological Library Association. Combines: Religion Index One: Periodicals (1949-), Religion Index Two: Multi-author Works (1960-), Index to Book Reviews in Religion (1949-), Research in Ministry (1981-), Methodist Reviews Index (1818- 1985).

RAMBI, the Index of Articles on Jewish Studies. (online database, unrestricted).
Coverage from 1966 to the present. Updated annually.
Indexes articles mainly from the holdings of the Jewish National and University Library (JNUL). Topics covered include the Bible, post-Biblical literature and early Christianity, Rabbinic literature and Jewish Law, philosophy and religion, and Jewish history.


EBSCO MegaFILE. (online database)
Provides indexing and abstracting for thousands of scholarly and general interest journals. Not strong in any one field, put some relevant material may be found here.

Periodicals Contents Index. (online database)
A retrospective file covering publications from 1770-1993.
Includes citations to many journals in the humanities and social sciences. A good resource for finding older journal references and book reviews.


Chronology of the Medieval World: 800 to 1491. [1st American ed.] New York : D. McKay Co. [1973]
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: D118 .S855 1973b]

Primary Sources

Henry Charles Lea Library
The Lea Library focuses on the history of religion with a special interest in the institutional, legal, and ecclesiastical bases of Church organization and governance during these periods and, most especially, the Inquisition in Europe generally, Spain particularly, and Spanish America. Witchcraft and magic are also subjects that the Lea Library collects extensively.
Some instructions for locating materials in this collection:
  1. Use the separate card catalog for the Lea Collection in Special Collection.
  2. Use Franklin. You can limit to a particular library location by using the "Set Limits" button. Scroll down the Library locations until you find "Van Pelt Library Special Collections Lea Collection."
  3. Use this bibliography: Lea, Henry Charles, 1825-1909. Materials toward a history of witchcraft. 3v. New York : AMS Press, [1986]
    [Van Pelt Library: BF1566 .L4 1986], several copies, and also other locations. Most of the items in this bibliography are located in the Lea Library.
  4. Use the Catalogue of manuscripts in the libraries of the University of Pennsylvania to 1800. [Rare Bk & Ms Library Reference: Z6621 .P44]

Early English Books Online
Full-text page images of over 96,000 titles from the Short-Title Catalogue of English works 1475-1640, Wing's continuation for 1641-1700, and their revisions.
Early English Books Online reproduces the works listed in:
  • Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue of printed materials published in the English language from 1475 to 1640 [Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: Z2002 .P77 1976]
  • Wing's Short-Title Catalogue of works dating from 1641 to 1700 [Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: Z2002 .W5 1972]
    Note: For a fuller explanation of the Short Title Catalogue and the holdings at the Penn Library, see the English Short-Title Catalog - Research Guide.
  • Thomason Tracts, a collection of broadsides and pamphlets concerning the English Civil War printed between 1640 and 1661 [Van Pelt Library: Microfilm 3942 Guide]

The Malleus Maleficarum of Heinrich Kramer and Jamese Sprenger
Unabridge online republication of the 1928 edition. Introduction to the 1948 edition is also included. Translation, notes, and two introductions by Montague Summers.

Sorciers, dimonologues, magistrats, thiologiens et midicins aux XVIh et XVIIh sihcles. Edited by Robert Mandrou. Paris : Microiditions Hachette ; [New York : Distributed in the U.S.A. by Norman Ross Publ. Co.,] 1975. 159 microfiches.
A collection of 99 texts written 1569-1938 on demonology.
[Van Pelt Library: Microfiche 846 + guide]

Witchcraft Collection (Cornell University)
Cornell's Witchcraft Collection contains over 3,000 titles documenting the history of the Inquisition and the persecution of witchcraft.

Witchcraft in Europe and America Woodbridge, Conn. : Research Publications, [1983]. 104 microfilm reels.
"The renowned Witchcraft Collection at Cornell University's Olin Library forms the nucleus of the collection."
Title of guide: Witchcraft in Europe and America : guide to the microfilm collection. [Van Pelt Reference Stacks: BF1563 .W58 1983]
Brief online description
[Van Pelt Microtext: Microfilm 3512]

Early Modern Europe: The Witch Hunts
Primary source material from the Internet Archive of Texts and Documents.
Many items scanned in from: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History, 6 vols. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania History Department, 1898-1912)

Lexicon of names and events, bibliography, and a collection of digitized primary texts.

Salem Witch Trials - Documentary Archive and Transcription Project - University of Virginia
Transcripts, digitized court records, maps, and biographical information of those involved.
The transcripts are a digitization project of the following resource: Paul S Boyer; Stephen Nissenbaum. The Salem witchcraft papers : verbatim transcripts of the legal documents of the Salem witchcraft outbreak of 1692. New York : Da Capo Press, 1977.

Web Portals

Internet Medieval Sourcebook - Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.
Includes a Selected Sources section and full text sources.

Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies
Academic site. Includes an Encyclopedia and a Library of primary sources.

The Labyrinth: Resources for Medieval Studies - Georgetown University
Includes primary and secondary sources. Has sections on particular national cultures and topics (e.g., Sciences, Religious History).
Send mail concerning this page to Nick Okrent at