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Newberry Library’s Bewitching Project

by on July 31, 2017

Chicago’s Newberry Library needs your help transcribing and/or translating seventeenth century occult books, including a book of spells. The research library has placed the 17th century texts on their website in the hopes that viewers can aid in ongoing transcription work.

Perhaps the most provocative book in the exhibit is the Book of Magical Charms, which has generated some buzz on social media. The spell book includes instructions for not only contacting spirits but also curing toothaches and making magical keys. The second book, the Commonplace Book was a work in progress from the sixteenth century until the nineteenth, added to little by little. The book contains commentary on a variety of subjects, many magical. Its table of contents lists the following sections: Animata, Things not Brooked, Forgery, Mechanica, Phisick, and Wonders, among others. The last text is titled Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits by Increase Mather. The author was a minister and Harvard president who took part in the Salem Witch Trials.

If you would like to add your magical touch to this translation project, please visit the project web page.

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