Working Papers

WEME Project Orientation Module

This module will serve as an introduction to working on the WEME project. It will outline some of the various tools you might encounter while working on WEME and it will also provide you with guidelines on how to input content stemming from your reading into the project’s database. By the end of this module, you should be familiar with the programs relevant to your work on WEME, some vocabulary on witches in early modern England and to the WEME project in particular, the basics in regards to populating the database, and WEME etiquette. Examples deemed necessary will be provided to help illustrate guidelines. Please note that while this document aims to account for most of the basic types of situations you will encounter during your time with WEME, you will undoubtedly come across instances containing nuances which will have to be captured but for which this document will not have examined. Therefore, these guidelines should be more looked at as a general logical backdrop from which assertions about texts are created for the database rather than strict rules pertaining to creating and editing assertions. The WEME project aims to keep the structure of keep its assertions as consistent as possible and in all cases you should do everything you can to stay within the following guidelines when creating content for the database. However, project researchers such as you can exercise a little bit of freedom in terms of structure to allow yourself to capture all the necessary information. Most importantly, never hesitate to ask the project team a question—either individually or to all of us. Even the people who have been with the project since the beginning often need others to help them figure out assertions or bits of text. Certain assertions are in fact the work of two or three people. It’s much more efficient this way and we can keep each other in the loop. The members and the project evolve alongside one another and it’s important to keep questioning how we are proceeding and to keep each other informed on changes.


Section 1: Some Tools of the WEME Project

This brief section will serve to outline in laymen’s terms some of the programs or applications you may use or hear about while working with WEME. The object is simply to familiarize you with them if you hear them in conversation during meetings or in emails.


1.     EEBO: EEBO stands for Early English Books Online. Found in most university libraries’ catalogues, EEBO consists of a collection of approximately 100,000 digitized texts dating from around 1473 to 1700. You’ll find anything from Paradise Lost to brief pamphlets describing events in London. The WEME project relies on EEBO extensively for primary documents. When you are looking for a text which is in the database, you will often find it in EEBO.

Most of the texts have conveniently been transcribed into a form which easy to read and from which you can simply copy and paste whatever original text you may need. Whenever possible, you should copy and paste original text instead of transcribing by hand to avoid errors and to save time. Only when texts have not been transcribed into type should you transcribe by hand. In those cases, always make sure to review your work.


*Quick tip*: If by any chance at some point you are looking for a particular piece of original text in a particularly long document, instead of scanning through the entire document to find your excerpt, simply press Cmd+f (or Ctrl+F on a PC) and place a small amount of text in the search box that will appear at the bottom of your screen. The computer will immediately go to the section of selected text. Make sure the excerpt is small because EEBO has an odd way of formatting its transcriptions and the project team has also had to adjust some transcriptions from time to time.


***Important Note: When copy-pasting from EEBO, you will often run across missing text in the transcription. Either the original document is damaged or the transcription device simply does not recognize the text. In order to account for that, the EEBO transcription device has indicated this by saying something like “Illegible word” or “Illegible Text” or “Single Illegible letter.” We must be careful not to let these lapses of transcription show up in our documents. Whenever you run across missing text, always replace the “Illegible word” (or whatever it says) by a bracketed ellipse (e.g.: [...]) or in the case of a “Single Illegible Letter” you can always input the missing letter if it’s obvious what it is. For example, “BewiSingleIllegibleLetterched” becomes Bewi[t]ched.


2.     Django: Django is a data entry application. You can access it at: . Our computer programmer Seyed will provide you with your own personalized login information. You'll mostly be working with this when you enter and edit assertions. It has a grey and blue background. The program essentially contains the platform which you will use to input all the information you will need to create assertions as well as to view all other assertions that have been created. Unfortunately, it sometimes has a tendency to freeze up or become unavailable. Seyed has recently set up a automatic reset feature every hour to avoid django crashing, but it nevertheless occasionally doesn’t work. If you suddenly can't access the page, write to either Seyed (computer whiz) or Dr. K. (and they'll reset the server for you in no time). I’d check if it’s on the hour though because that seems to be when the automatic reset takes effect (the database becomes unavailable for a space of approximately 5 seconds).

Django is made of many parts, but for the purposes of our work within the project, it is best looked as consisting of two parts: one part allows us to create assertions and the other allows us to standardize and manage fields which help us create the assertions from part one.

In this first part, you can do three things: 1. Add an event assertion 2. Add a person assertion and 3. Add a preternatural assertion. When we say assertion, we are referring to a description of an event, person or being. These descriptions, depending on the type of assertion you make can include the date, the location, and other specific details pertaining to the subject of description. You will learn about the different parts of creating assertions below.

In the second part, there are fourteen category lists of elements that are there to help you create assertions. This means that, whatever is added in these categories is in order to help detail assertions. Whatever is added to these lists will then appear in the appropriate field in either the person assertion page, event assertion page or preternatural assertions page as one option in a list. These fields include but are not limited to: source, person type, location, event types, and preternatural types. You can add to these lists either from the home page or by using the little blue “+” signs to the right of the field in either the person assertion, event assertion or preternatural assertion. Again, you will learn more about these below when we get to describing how to add assertions.

3.     PhpmyAdmin: This tool is primarily used to manage the whole database rather than to edit or create individual assertions. Seyed uses this tool to properly delete information we either don’t need or that has accidentally been added. He manages most of the data from this application. The application can also be used to do medium to large scale edits. For example, if you want to change all the dates or all the locations from the event assertions in A True and Just Record, of the Information, Examination and Confession of all the Witches, taken at S. Osyth in the county of Essex, a text which contains 56 event assertions, it is much easier to do so using PhPmyAdmin as you edit more than one assertion at a time. If you would like to conduct a quick change to many assertions (probably from the same text) feel free to contact a member of the WEME team and we will be glad to assist you in getting this done in a much more efficient fashion. Seyed or Maica would be more than happy to give you a tour of the application after you’ve familiarized yourself with the WEME project and can start doing more advanced editing.  


4.     Other sources: While the WEME project has relied on EEBO for most of its primary sources so far, the team has also started exploring secondary sources as well as legal documentation pertaining to witchcraft. The team prides itself on using as much open access digital material as possible so as to make verification and access by its users relatively easy. This includes the usage of googlebooks and multiple websites including: British History Online, the Proceedings at the Old Bailey, and If you are looking for a text while editing, check EEBO first, if not, it could be from any one of these sources. Dr. Uszkalo, Lauren or Maica will surely be able to help you find it online.

***Important Note: When doing research on a person or an event, it is recommended to *always* do a quick internet search to see if the involved parties appear in other literature (besides the text in which they were originally discovered). Any addition information you find should be added both to the short description about the person and should be cited by adding the source and original text (usually, this is done using the fields “Source 2” and “Original text 2” or “Source 3” and “Original Text 3” ).

Below you will find a list of sources from which WEME draws it sources and links to each:

British History Online:

Essez Archives Online:

Cornell University Library Witchcraft Collection

Old Bailey Online:

Internet Archive (for example, you’ll find « Depositions from the Castle of York » here)

Clergy of the Church of England Database

Old Occupations List

University of Hull's State Paper's Project

CLP Database:

Complete collection of state trials:

Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reigns of Edward VI., Mary, Elizabeth, 1547-[1625]: 1611-1618: James I. 1858




Next to the controlled list of locations when adding either a person or an event assertion, you will find that little “+” sign. When you click on it a window will appear allowing you to add a location. Enter all the fields you can. Do a quick wiki search to find out about the location to find out what to fill in most fields. Use the spelling of the text in the “city/town” box, but the modern spelling of the city or town in the “modernized spelling” box. Pre-1974 counties and current counties are often the same, but be careful as it is not always the case. For example, parts of Middlesex in the Early Modern Period are now part of Greater London. To fill in the Latitude and Longitude coordinates, use this site:

Here are a few additional resources to help you familiarize yourself with the geography of Early Modern England. Peruse these at your convenience and in order to facilitate your mapping work with WEME.

England A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001.

Survey of London:

Map of London:

***Important Note: It is important to always try and fill in as many fields as possible using the information you obtain from the original text. In addition, always make sure you include all necessary original text needed to support your entries in each field. The user should be able to locate all the information about a being, person or event in the original text box. The other fields are essentially ways of effectively breaking down what we find in the original text and, of course, organizing it within the larger corpus of texts we are analyzing.

 ***Important Note: If you have any questions regarding event types and their meaning, send a quick email to Dr. Uszkalo, Lauren or Maica and they will quickly explain it to you. In addition,  often only one event type is needed when recording an assertion, but sometimes you can have up to 3-4. For example, if you accuse me of bewitching your cat, causing him to die, that is 3 event types (accusation, bewitchment, animal damage) for one event. If you add more than one event type, ask yourself the question: Am I adding more event types because this event can be categorized in more than one way OR am I actually representing multiple events using one assertion? *If it’s the latter, then you must break up the assertion into two separate assertions even if they are using the same original text. Make sure that you are always representing one event per event assertion*

***Important Note: DEPRECATED FIELDS: pertaining to social statuses, occupations and person type, we only recently started controlled lists. Theses deprecated fields are found in person assertions.  Before, L and I would type these in. No one on the team is now using these fields. We are transferring the data from those fields into the controlled lists located right below each deprecated field. If you see something in a deprecated field, find it in the controlled list right below and select it. Then delete the text in the deprecated field. You will run across this for MOST of the early assertions. This change only happened in February.

Section 2: Creating and Editing Assertions

The most important part of your work with WEME, of course, is creating and editing assertions. These follow specific steps and the most important part, creating the short description, must be crafted with care and detail. The project strives not only to capture the basics of an event or a person, but to provide all the details pertaining to such an event. In creating assertions, it’s important to remember that the overarching premise of the project is to provide as detailed of a portrait of factors that led to the phenomenon of witchcraft in Early Modern England. In other words, this project, among other things, seeks to show how witchcraft was created and how its idea was disseminated throughout England in the Early Modern Era. Therefore, it’s important who said what and who believed who and why. Victims, witnesses, pastors, and fathers, for example, are all important people to note, not just the witches. Because this was not always a focus of the WEME project, much of the early assertions that were created do not contain as much detail. At this point, the project was more invested in brevity, standardization, and being concise. The project evolved, however, and the team has come to the conclusion that to create a more convincing and accurate portrait of witchcraft in Early Modern England these microscopic details are necessary. Below, you will find a list of examples of assertions and how they were created.

***Important Note: THE GOOGLE DOC

First review of assertions: Whenever you are working on a document, always make sure that you inform the rest of the group that you have, for lack of a better word, “claimed” the text. That is, when editing, chose a text from the google docs list titled “WEME To Be Approved/To Do List” and put your name in the very first column next to “your text.” You can claim more than one text at time. It’s more of a first come first serve system for choosing what texts you want to work on. That being said, often times, people will take a text you’ve claimed if you haven’t started working on it yet 9usually this only happens if the person is starting to work on the text right away). In any case, what’s important is that you mark your name down next to the text which you are currently working on so someone doesn’t pick it up as well which would likely cause problems in the long run. After you are done with a text, move the entry from its current location (either the second or third section of texts in the doc—these sections are texts with just a few assertions and untouched texts) up to the first section, which consists texts with a completed first pass and that are therefore up for second review.

Second Review of Texts: Editors are to pass the texts through a second review process and sign their names in the second row (tilted: verified by). By signing their name in the second row, editors are vouching that the db contains ALL needed assertions relevant to THAT text and that these assertions are all correct. Second passes should theroetically not consist of adding too many assertions, but it will surely entail adding lots of details to existign assertions and some selected rewrites.  

Creating a Person Assertion:

These are mini biographies and their structures is much easier to grasp than event assertions. A simple formula to the start of a person assertion would go:

A woman/spinster/witness/(or any persontype or similar descriptor)__ from ___Town Y in the county of  Z __, “a notorious witch” or “the daughter of someone” (or essentially any type of situational relationship to a person or community asserted in the text), who “is accused”/”who is allegedly bewitched/ or something like that. She is tried at [...] and [legal findings]

The following sentences consist of what Dr. Uszkalo calls a “mini-biography.” Below, I’ve added a few very detailed person. Not all people will have detailed assertions. Some people show up very briefly simply to say they’ve seen an event. They are nevertheless important to capture, however, brief their assertion.

1.     The first fields to fill in are the sources fields. The source field is a controlled list of titles from which you will chose your textual source. If you need to add a source to the list, you may do so by pressing the “+” sign next to the controlled list. A new window will appear allowing you to add a new source. Fill in as many fields as possible. Don’t forget the “Short Title” field as that is the name by which your source will appear in the controlled list.

2.     Next, enter you relevant original text in the Original text box. Use as much space as you need. Most importantly, make sure all the fields you fill in below are represented by excerpts of the original text. You can always use multiple sections of the same text and put it in that same box. Just make sure to separate the chunks of text with bracketed ellipses ([...]). In other words, you need a lot of information to "prove" what you are saying about a person/event/preternatural being, make sure those primary textual sentences are extracted and included, they need to line up, beat for beat. You need to read and interpret here; we can all help you, but give it a really good try first.

***Important Note: We add everything neatly and orderly. So watch formatting in *all* cut and paste -- it should be all left aligned properly. Watch for transcription errors, watch for formatting errors, watch for "single illegible texts"

3.     If you have information about the same person from a different source, rinse and repeat step 1 and 2 by filling in the fields Source 2, Original Text 2, Source 3 and Original Text 3. Notes fields are for anything that doesn’t fit anywhere else. These are public so craft your words carefully.

4.     Next, you’ll find a controlled list of names of people already in the database. If you’re editing an assertion, don’t touch this field. If you are adding, add a new person by clicking on the little “+” sign next to the box. Fill in all the fields. People recently now have locations associated with them. Indicate where they are from by using the locations list (See how to add a location below). Their location will then be reiterated in their short description. Underneath that field will be a “name recorded as” field. Use this field to indicate ALL spellings of the name (including the one used in the controlled list). The name might be “A Maid” or “A Child” if there is no proper name.

5.     Short description: These take a while. They are the backbone of data creation and must be carefully crafted. Essentially, they summarize the event/person/preternatural in detail. If creating a person or preternatural short descriptions, think of them as mini biographies. If it is an event assertion, think of it as a mini history. There are specific ways of creating these. Examples and guidelines can be found below.

6.     The next fields you will see are “name details” and “person details”. Add any kind of details in there. These two are public, of course, so be careful. Now that we are detailing short descriptions as much as possible, these fields are no longer as necessary as they once were. Use them for detailing physical descriptions and maybe elaborating on contradictory information within or in between texts or things like that.

7.     For the relationship box, note the relationships between people in the database. When choosing the “Personal relationship asserted in text”, always choose the relationship pertaining to the person the assertion is about, not about the person to whom he or she is related. That is, if the person assertion is about Mrs. X and we are entering a relationship status to her daughter, then the “personal relationship asserted in text” is “mother” and then we would choose the name of her daughter from the list.

8.     Next come occupation and social status. If there is an occupation or social status indicated, please note it. If you don’t have any information on the subject, be sure to indicate “unknown.”

9.     Finally comes the classification by project team. This takes time to get used to and can be a bit confusing at first but it’s an important field to master as it is essentially how we are organizing our people in the database. Most of the time, people are just one thing, but sometimes they can be up to two (they can be the author of the text and a witness, for example). Feel free to ask any project team member for help if you don’t know how to categorize your person

Example 1:

Refers to Joan Cocke of Kelvedon: A spinster from Kelvedon in the county of Essex, and a suspected witch, who is indicted at the Assizes in Chelmsford in 1566 for bewitching a one-year-old infant named Agnes Cryspe so that she became "lame, enfeebled and maimed." Cocke pleads not guilty and is found not guilty. She is also tried at the Assizes in Brentwood for clapping her hands on Richard Sherman's knees, making him lame saying "that she defied one Blackbornes wyfe whome the saide Richard Sherman said & reported to be gladde of hir deliveraunce." Cocke's daughter is also a suspected witch according to Noble's wife because she (Noble's wife) could not get butter and to have bewitched Belfild's wife cows so that one would not give milk and other would give milk of all colours.

Texts: Calendar of Essex Assize Records, Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Part 4, Witch Hunting and Witch Trials

Example 2:

Refers to George Lee: A man from Spittal, in the county of Northumberland, who was allegedly "almost cast away coming into Barwick Harbour in a Ship by that fearfull tempest which [John Hutton allegedly] raised." Lee was also a witness to Margaret Muschamp's claim that two drops of John Hutton's blood had saved her and that two more drops would likewise save her brother. He also witnesses Muschamp's claim that Dorothy Swinow had killed her Aunt Hambleton, caused James Fausets fits, and tormented her brother George.

Original Text: On Munday night she fell into a heavenly Rapture, rejoycing that ever she was borne, for these two drops of blood had saved her life, otherwise she had beene seaven yeares in torment without any ease, or death had come: behold her two Angels (which she was bold to call them) on her right hand, and her Tormenters on her left, setting her selfe with a majestick carriage, her words so punctuall and discreet, that it was admirable to the beholders.


Saying her Angels bid her now be bold to speake out, looking on her left hand, saying, thy name is JOHN HUTTON, and hers is DOROTHY SVVINOVV, she hath beene             the death of my Aunt HAMBLETON, the consumer of my Brother, and the tormenter of me; she knowing my Aunts estate was but for life, and her onely sonne had marryed FAUSETS daughter, who to enjoy the estate, he having but one sonne, was the cause of yong JAMES FAUSETS unnaturall fits: But thinking Mr. FAUSET would follow her more strictly there, then we could doe here, let him alone, to be the more vehement with us, every fit promising me case, if I would consent to lay it on my mother; but I will never consent, but if it were possible indure more torment; fince she is all that the Lord of his goodnesse hath left to take care of us five fatherlesse children; except our Father in Heaven, which protects her for our sakes.

Thus for two houres together she continued in a very heavenly religious Discourse with these Angels, rejoycing that she had got two drops of blood; saying, if her Brother had as much, it would save his life also; witnesse to these words were Mr. MOORE of Spittle, his six Sonnes and a Daughter, Mr. ELIZABETH MUSCHAMP, Mrs. MARGARET SELBY, ANNE SELBY, and GEORGE LEE, who was almost cast away comming into Barwick Harbour in a Ship by that fearfull tempest which HUTTON raised. GEORGE ARMORER, WILLIAM HALL, WILLIAM BEARD, HENRY ORDE, with divers Neighbours, all admiring the Lords great power expressed in that afflicted childe.    (Wonderfull Newes from the North 6)


Example 3:

Refers to Mary Sykes: A woman from Bolling in York (now part of Bradford in West Yorkshire) who is accused of arriving through a hole in the floor of Sara Rode's bedroom, taking her by the neck, and ramming her fingers down Sara's throat to prevent her from speaking. She would "come to" Rodes often, arriving as Rodes began to have fits which lasted a half hour long and which were accompanied by "paines and benummednes, by six tymes of a day, in greate extremity, the use of her joynts being taken from her, her hart leapeing, the use of her tongue being taken away, and her whole body neare unto death." She also allegedly took "holde of [Rodes] by the apron, and gathered itt by the bottom into her hands, and puld her soe hard by itt thatt she puld some of the gatherings out. Sykes is also accused of bewitching Henry Cordingley's livestock and causing their death. She is searched by a jury of six women, including Isabella Pollard, and "upon the side of her seate [they discovered] a redd lumpe about the biggnes of a nutt, being wett." The jury of women who searched Sykes then "wrung it with theire fingers, moisture came out of it like lee" They also " founde upon her left side neare her arme a litle lumpe like a wart, and being puld out it stretcht about halfe an inch."

Original Text
March 18, 1649-50. Before Henry Tempest, Esq. Dorothy Rodes, of Bolling, widow, saith, thatt, upon Sonday night was a scavennight, she and Sara Rodes, her dawghter, with a litle childe, lay all in bedd together; and, after theire first sleepe, she heareing the saide Sara quakeing and holding her hands together, she asked her what she ailed, and she answered " A, mother, Sikes wife came in att a hole att the bedd feete, and upon the bedd, and tooke me by the throate, and wold have put her fingers in my mowth, and wold ncedes choake me." And, this informant asking her why she did not speake, she answered she cold not speake for thatt the saide Mary Sykes fumbled about her throate and tooke her left syde thatt she cold not speake. And she further saith thatt the saide Sara hath beene taken severall tymes since the saide Sonday with paines and benummednes, by six tymes of a day, in greate extremity, the use of her joynts being taken from her, her hart leapeing, the use of her tongue being taken away, and her whole body neare unto death. And those fitts continewed halfe an hower, and sometymes an hower, and when she was recovered, she continually saide thatt the saide Mary Sikes came and used her in that maner. And upon the saide Sonday the saide Sara told this informant thatt the saide Mary Sikes came unto her as she was comeing home, and tooke holde of her by the apron, and gathered itt by the bottom into her hands, and puld her soe hard by itt thatt she puld some of the gatherings out; and that she was in great feare, and wincked; and opening her eyes she saide " Mary." Butt the saide Mary Sikes wold give noe answere. And then Susan Beamont came to her. And the likenes of one Kellett wife appeared to her. Whereupon this informant told her that Kellett wife dyed about two yeares since. To which the saide Sara answered, "A, mother, but she never rests, for she appeared to me the fowlest feind that ever I sawe, with a paire of eyes like sawcers, and stood up betwixt them, and gave me a box of the eare in the gapsteade, which made the fire to flash out of my eyes. (Depositions from the Castle of York 28 – 29)

Example 4:

Refers to Sara Rodes:
A girl, daughter of Dorothy Rodes, of Bolling in the county of York (now part of Bradford in West Yorkshire), who suffers from a series of debilitating fits which lasted over a half hour each and which she attributes to Mary Sykes bewitching her. Sykes first appears to Rodes one night while she sleeps in bed with her mother, Dorothy and another child. Crawling up through a hole in the floor, Sykes takes Rodes by the throat and chokes her. She keeps her from crying out by keeping her fingers lodged down Rode's throat. Rodes continues to suffer after this incident, however. Up to six times a day she is taken by "paines and benummednes," prevented from walking, suffers heart palpitations, and muteness, so that it seems her "whole body [was] neare unto death." After each of these fits she claimed that Mary Sykes had come to her (and presumably caused them). Rodes also blamed Susan Beamont and Kellett (wife) for plaguing her. The death of Mrs. Kellet two years previously did not seem to stop these accusations. Rather, Sara suggested that Kellet never rests, for she appeared to me the fowlest feind that ever I sawe, with a paire of eyes like sawcers, and stood up betwixt them, and gave me a box of the eare in the gapsteade, which made the fire to flash out of my eyes."

Original Text: Same as Example 3.

Creating a Preternatural Assertion:

Preternatural: A magical being or sometimes the devil. A preternatural can belong to a witch, such as a spirit, an imp or a devil; It can be *the* Devil who will appear often in text and in very many different forms; or still yet, it can simply be a some sort of shape that is neither human nor a regular animal (regular is important here because witch’s spirits appears often in the shape of house cats or frogs or any other common animal). The project creates assertions about preternatural as they appear in texts. It is important to record in an assertion when the preternatural appears, in what shape, what it eats, if it belongs to someone (and to whom), what it is used for and any other details.

Follow much of the same steps as person assertion. There are some variations in the fields. Just add what you know in every field.

Magical Being assertions take on a lot of the formatting properties of person assertions. The difference between the two is how they are represented in the text and the fact that they are not attached to a location, but rather to a person. Therefore, aside from a few minor adjustments, many magical being assertiosn will look the same as person assertions (albeit, most likely, most of them will be a heck of a lot shorter as their appearance in texts as well as their descriptions are often quite brief).

So, much like person assertions, the magical being assertion starts with identifying what type of being we are dealing with. Is it a spirit, a devil, THE devil, or imp, etc. Then,  we go on to associating it with a person (conceivably its owner) if applicable. The rest follows exactly the same format as person assertions where you detail its role in the text, physical descriptions from the text the events in which it participates and any other telling details, etc.

Here is the basic formula for a magical being assertions:

A     imp/familiar/devil/etc    who   assert relationship and use of magical being     . 

The following sentences consist of what Dr. Uszkalo calls a “mini-biography.” Below, I’ve added a few examples. Some magical beings show up very briefly. They are nevertheless important to capture, however, brief their assertion.

Example 1:

refers to Hare  A familiar in the shape of a hare who speaks to James Device, asking him if "hee had brought the Bread that his Grand-mother had bidden him." The Hare "hreatned to pull this Examinate in peeces," when he responded that he had not, but was easily dispelled (exorcised?) when Device crossed himself.

Original Text: Notwithstanding her perswasions, this Examinate did eate the Bread: and so in his comming, homeward some fortie roodes off the said Church, there met him a thing in the shape of a Hare, who spoke vnto this Examinate, and asked him whether hee had brought the Bread that his Grand-mother had bidden him, or no? whereupon this Examinate answered, hee had not: and thereupon the said thing threatned to pull this Examinate in peeces, and so this Examinate thereupon marked himselfe to God, and so the said thing vanished out of this Examinates sight[.]

Example 2:

Refers to Black Man Spirit: A spirit in the shape of a great headless black man who comes to Anne Styles during her fits asking her for her soul. When she replied that it was not hers to give, he tumbled and threw Styles about, before vanishing in a great gleaning fire.

Original Text: with this noise being frighted, had not power with the rest, to go out of the room, staid there [...] d saw a spirit in the likeness of a great black man, with no head, in the room souffling with the maid, and took her and set her into a chair, and told her she must go with him, he was come for her foul, sfhe had given it to him: but the maid answered, that her f[..] was none of her own to five, it belonged to her Lord and Savior Jefus Chrift, who had puchased it with his own precious blood; and although he had got her blood, yet he should never have her foul; Whereupon after tumbling and throwing the maid about the Devil Vanifhed in a glame of fire. (Doctor Lamb’s Darling 6)

***Important Note: Creating assertions relating to THE devil. The devil appears often in textswith which we deal in the WEME project. Therefore, the Devil holds a special place in magicla being assertions. While we always use the same magical being name (i.e. always refers to The Devil), we create a new assertion for him every time he appears (he appears in far more sources that we have room for in one magical being assertion, so he gets a new assertion for every time we encounter him). Whenever making a magical being assertion about the Devil, always note in what form he appears. Magical being assertions pertaining to the Devil alaways start as follows:

The Devil appears in the shape of X …. (followed by detailing his role in the text).  OR  

The Devil appears to Y (Y = person)  in the shape of X…. (followed by detailing his role in the text).


***Important Note: Person/Magical Being Assertions that stand in for more than one poerson or magical being: Sometimes in texts, you run into a group (unspcified in number) or people or magical beings. These must still be represented, but since you can’t add a specific number asserions representing either the people or the magical beings allegedly present, you must make one assertion that stands in for all the people or magical beings that are present. The procedure is relatively the same except instead of the very beginning of the assertion. Instead of starting with “A    type of magical being or type of person   ” the assertions should start with “One of a group of     type of magical being or type of person   ”. The change is small but important to note. Then, in the “person details” section, you need to add a note that says something along the lines of: “The text does not specify how many people are accused of causing "mutinous facts." This entry stands in for all the the unidentified people who are accused”. **Make sure to only use this format when adding in an assertion for an unspecified amount of people involved. If you know there are six anonymous people, add 6 assertions of anonymous people. If there is a “group” of people, then add one assertion for the group of people.**


Consistency: In order to have as consistent an entry as possible, it is suggested that the entry always begin with the subject about whom the entry is about. This may include playing with the sentence a little bit in order to get the proper subject at the front.

Creating an Event assertion:

Event types: Found in event assertions, “event type” is a field used to categorize events for easy identification and reference. The project currently uses 48 event types in which its assertions can be categorized. These event types allow users to quickly and easily identify what they are looking at and sort multiple events by types (i.e. it is quite easy to see how instances of “animal damage” were recorded in a certain period of time). All event assertions are given at least one event types. There are certain instances where more than one event type may be attributed to one event. We will review this later.

When possible, the subject of an assertion may be a witch, a magical being, or God, for example. When entering the name of a witch in particular, adding the location (i.e. Temperance Lloyd of Bideford instead of simply Temperance Lloyd) is not necessary. Spelling of location (as well as all spelling in the entries) should be in modern spelling.

To Avoid: Walter Flower accuses Anne Flower of bewitching him.

Correct Example: Anne Flower is accused by Walter Flower of bewitching him.

Dates are not necessary in the short description UNLESS THE EVENT TYPE IS AN EXECUTION.

Extrapolating from the text should be avoided. However, including unique or pertinent details should always be added to the assertion. The WEME project strives to maintain narrative in and between its assertions and so these details allow us better to piece assertions together.

For the sake of consistency, event assertions are started using the present perfect (i.e. someone is accused.... people are examined) or present simple (i.e. the Devil allegedly appears) . It most important that the beginning of the sentence establishes the type of even recorded (i.e. who does what). Then, make sure to encounter any contributing factors or any details about the event. Below are a few event assertions. The original text used has been included to give a sense of things.


1.     Follow steps 1-3 of creating a person assertion

2.     Short description: These take a while. They are the backbone of data creation and must be carefully crafted. Essentially, they summarize the event/person/preternatural in detail. If creating a person or preternatural short descriptions, think of them as mini biographies. If it is an event assertion, think of it as a mini history. There are specific ways of creating these. Examples and guidelines can be found below.

3.     The next fields you will encounter are “Location recorded as” and “Location.” The first is an open field so just write in whatever ways the location has been written in the text. The next is a controlled list for the purposes of mapping using modern spellings. Read carefully to find locations. If you need to add a location, follow the instruction on how to add a location above.

4.     Start and end dates are entered for, among other things, the timeline applications. Therefore there is a specific format to follow. It goes year-month-day. Separate the year and the month by a comma and make sure to spell out the month but use numbers for the year and the day. Try to be as specific as possible (even though sometimes you simply have the year and the month or something like that). If the event happens only during the course of one day, simply enter the date in the “start date” field and leave the other one empty.

5.     Next comes the event type. Choose very carefully. There can be more than one event type per event. Often only one event type is needed when recording an assertion, but sometimes you can have up to 3-4. For example, if you accuse me of bewitching your cat, causing him to die, that is 3 event types (accusation, bewitchment, animal damage) for one event. If you add more than one event type, ask yourself the question: Am I adding more event types because this event can be categorized in more than one way OR am I actually representing multiple events? *Make sure that you are always representing one event per event assertion*

6.     Finally, add the participants. This includes people as well as preternatural. Each have their own lists. It is important to note ALL participants in an event. Also, when claiming there is a participant in an event, make sure each and every participant has a person assertion. No person or preternatural can be in the database without a person or preternatural assertion.


***Quick Tip: When editing you’ll often find yourself in the depth of entries created a long time ago in Django. They’ll be situated on one of the older pages (i.e. page 1 consists of newest entries while page 56 or whatever the highest page is at the moment holds the oldest). If you are editing on page 34, for example, as soon as you save the assertion, django brings you back to page 1 of the list of assertions. It’s a bit of a hassle to keep finding your page (and time consuming). To avoid this, when you are done editing an assertion, instead of clicking “save,” click “save and continue editing.” This will save your assertion, but keep you on the same page. Then, click the “back” button on your browser and presto! You’re back to page 34 of assertions. No need to weed through and find your spot again!


Example 1:

Original text: She and another man in Prison did shew their Teats; the Man had like a Breast on his side, and I suppose it was this party that Dom. de Saint Albans told me of [...] she confessed, She did exactly all those things that were alledged against her: Both these persons were Eye-witnesses, and Ear-witnesses; and also that the Maid could not say Our Father, but Your Father, as oft as they demanded her to say the Lord's Prayer: And the like I have heard from divers, that they cannot call upon and own God, and renounce the Devil; and call God to Witness, that they disclaim him, and all his Service, as others can, Mary by chance, (so nick-named) 'tis here publickly known how she swam, and could not sink with all the means she could use; and some say, She say she got Iron next her to make her sink. [...] hujus oppidi, a very honest Man told me, (he saw it).  (Daemonogia 40-41)

Short description: Mary-by-chance, and "another man in Prison" (Anonymous 252) are examined as witches. Being made to "shew their Teats; the Man [showed that he] had like a Breast on his side" and by being made to recite the Lord's Prayer, Mary-by-chance evidently could not say "Our Father, but [could only say] Your Father," a sure sign of demonic leanings.  

Event Type: Search/Examine/Identify


Example 2:

Original text: Indictment of Alice Swallow of Little Baddow spinster, a common witch there bewitched Alice, the wife of William Basticke, so that she languished from that day until 1 May when she died. Pleads not guilty; guilty. (Calendar of Essex Assize)

Short Description: Alice Swallow pleads not guilty to murdering Alice Basticke by bewitching her.

Event type: Verdict

***Important note: While the original text contains much more information than the short description, it is important to keep on event per short description. There are other event assertions

Example 3:

Short description: Sarah Griffith, long suspected of being a witch, enters the shop of Mr. John ---, and encounters "a good jolly fellow for his Apprentice."  This apprentice laughs and "cryed out he thought that they were be witch'd", and the old woman, feeling ridiculed leaves and threatens revenge. 

Original Text: Sarah Griffith who lived in a Gerret in Rosemary lane was long time suspected for a bad Woman, but nothing could be prov’d against her that the Law might take hold of her.  The [...] some of the Neighbour Children would be strangely effected with unknown Distempers, as Vomiting of Pins, their Bodies turn’d into strange postures and such like, many were frighted with strange apperitions of Cats, which of a sudden would vanish away, these and such like made those who lived in the Neighbourhood both suspicious and fearful of her: Till at last the Devil (who always betrays those that deal with him) thus brought the Truth to Light.  One Mr. John --- at the Sugarloaf had a good jolly fellow for his Apprentice.  This Old Jade came into his Shop to buy a wistern[?] of Sope, the young fellow happened to Laugh, and the Scales not fraging[?] right, cryed out he thought that they were be Witch’d; The Old Woman hearing him say so, fellow a great Passion, judging he said so to Ridicule her, ran out of the Shop and threatened Revenge.  (A Full and True Account of the Discovery, Apprehending and Taking of a Notorious Witch 1)

Event Type: Forespoken and Bewitchment

***Important Note: you can find many more examples in the database containing many variations according to details from the original text. Being faithful is most important but trying to keep things consistent is a close second. Beware of the examples, however, as many of them don’t follow the guidelines even though they should. We’re in the process of restructuring those in order to make them more consistent. Nevertheless, you can practice by trying to find good and bad short descriptions. They get easier the more you practice.


Standardized Terminology:

Some Event Types;

Walking/Watching: Walking/watching refers to a test sometimes performed on suspected witches. Matthew Hopkins, a famous self-proclaimed “witch-finder” claimed that one way to identify a witch was to make her walk continuously until she is so tired and sore that she must sit down. If the woman is a witch, her familiars will come to her as soon as she stops walking. There are many variations on this test. The premise is essentially doing things to a witch so that she is forced to use witchcraft in order to stop the ordeal thus revealing her as a witch.

Transmogrification: transmogrification or , in other words “shape shifting,” is the ability of a human (or animal) to change shape. Sometimes, you will come across a witch who is said to suddenly turn into a house cat. This would be an instance of transmogrification.

Swimming: Swimming is another test performed on suspected witches. In order to determine whether or not a woman was a witch, she was thrown in a body of water. If a witch, it was believed, she would use her magic to make her float to the top and save herself.

Retraction: Retraction is usually in reference to a previous claim of being bewitched by a witch. Often times, you will encounter instances where someone fakes being possessed by the Devil or being bewitched by an alleged witch. When the person indeed confesses that he or she had faked the whole ordeal, this is classified as a retraction. A witch suddenly denying having confessed to witchcraft could also be considered a retraction.

Pricking/Scratching: Pricking and scratching is yet again another test sometimes performed on suspected witches. While this test has many variations, it generally consists of a suspected witch being pricked with a pin to see if she will bleed (if she does not bleed she is considered a witch) or scratched to see if she feels pain. 

Malefic Compact: A malefic compact is a deal made between a witch and a the Devil.

Counter magic: Counter magic usually appears in the form of prayer or something similar in order to try and stave off the “evils” of magic. Counter magic can be a ritual or it can be a simple superstition that allegedly helps counter the effects of a witch’s magic.

Charity Refused: Charity refused often happens before an act of witchcraft happens. For example, a woman will refuse to give her hungry neighbour bread and milk and as a result this first woman will fall ill within hours or days. 

Some Person Types:

Witness: This can be anyone who is said to be present during a magical event. It does not have to be a witness at a trial or an accuser. Any presence, whether they themselves claim to be witnesses or simply are alleged to be there by someone else, are considered witnesses.

Witch-searcher: Usually a woman who searches another woman for witch’s marks.


Faster: Someone who starves themselves either for religion or because they are allegedly possessed by the Devil or even because they are bewitched by a witch.


Demoniac: A person who suffers fits as a result of bewitching or possession. These fits usually involve vomitting, lameness, bloating, yelling, an inability to pray and a whole bunch of fun stuff.

Co-Conspirator: Anybody who conspires with someone else. People can conspires to expose a witch or two witches can be working together. There’s even a case where two demoniacs conspire together to make their fits seem more believable.

Celebrity: this one is a bit tricky because we’re not talking about Matt Damon here. It’s really rare that the celebrities we’re talking about in WEME are household names, yet there are cases where you realize that some people who were involved in witch-hunts were quite famous, regionally at least. Witch Finder General Matthew Hopkins would be one example. Hopkins was a renouned with-finder who was hired to come to villages to identify witches. Even though he was only “in business” for two years as a witch-finder, he nevertheless qualifies. Monarchs are usually celebrities. Dr. Lamb would be a celebrity since his case is well documented and he seemed to have been a quite well-known figure in London. 

Some Preternatural Types:

Most of them are pretty obvious and for most preternatural, their form is explicitly mentioned in the text. For those awkward cases where it’s not so explicit, you might have to do some detective work, and so knowing all the forms magical beings can take is imortant.

Simian: something that is either related to or looks like a monkey

Sow: Adult lady hog. Oink.

Shape-Shifter: … I don’t know why I felt like I needed to add this one to the glossary. Shape-shifter, a being who can appear in more than one shape. If you encounter a shape-shifter, see if it can be categorized as other things from that same list, too. For example, if you have a spirit that appears as a human, a cat, and a frog, then it would be all four (shape-shifter, human, cat, and frog).

Humanoid: has a human form (but for obvious reasons cannot be called a human)

Chimera: Usually something with the head of one animal and the body of another. My favourite example, of course, is Bart Simpson’s pidgeon-rat or the ever-so-famous hyppogriff—neither of which you will encounter during your work with WEME. 






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