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Andrew Rapoza’s Sickness & Evil in the New England Colonies, 1620-1788

October 25 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT


Sickness & Evil in the New England Colonies, 1620-1788

Evil – the Puritans felt surrounded by it. As they settled in the wilds of the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies throughout the 17th century, their faith was constantly tested and their fears often seemed overwhelming – with good reason. They were assaulted by life-threatening challenges: droughts, snow in the springtime, crop failures, sudden death of farm animals, bread that wouldn’t rise, butter that wouldn’t thicken, and family members who fell sick from strange, unrecognized sickness, plus much more. They were convinced the Devil was using witches to destroy them. Many Puritans tried to fight the black magic of witchcraft by using their own white magic, even though their ministers warned they were falling under Satan’s power. But they were desperate.

Andrew Rapoza, historian and author of Promising Cures, a four-volume, three-century history of health in a New England community, will present the little-known evidence of Puritans using counter-magic to fight witchcraft in the years before, during, and after the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692.

This presentation is sponsored by the Little Compton Historical Society. The Zoom presentation is on 25 October at 7:00 PM; the subject matter and images are appropriate for adults and teenagers, but not young children.


About the Speaker

Andrew V. Rapoza is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College, with a Scholar of the College distinction in history. During his management career in purchasing, contracts, and technical publications, he also pursued his passion for collecting and researching health and medical history, especially as it pertained to Lynn, Massachusetts, where he and his wife, Gail, first raised their four children. Several of his research papers on Colonial, Federal, and Victorian health in New England have been published and he has been a guest speaker on these subjects all over the Northeast, including at the Strong Museum, Rochester, New York, and at the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife.

He has recently published a four-volume book titled PROMISING CURES – the Pursuit of Health in a 19th Century New England Community: Lynn, Massachusetts. It is available for sale in hardcover and softcover on Amazon.com and for free in digital format on FamilySearch.org.


About Promising Cures

The community of Lynn, Massachusetts, was like the rest of New England in the 1800s but populated by individuals with their own unique stories to tell. Its residents were attacked by cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid, and dysentery; women died in childbirth; babies died before they took their first steps; and adults and children were mangled by factory machinery. Enjoyment of life was precious to each of them, but often stolen away too soon.

To fight pain, sickness, and death, they turned to their own creativity, old family recipes, a never-ending stream of promising cures, and emerging science-based medicines. No matter the origin of the remedy, the only critical ingredient was success.

It’s far too easy to call the past a time of quacks and gullible bumpkins, of villains and heroes. The 19th century was instead an era of experimentation and improvement practiced by as wide an assortment of average people, scoundrels, and reformers as we have among us today. Promising Cures proves this to be the case.

Be prepared to be transported to a different time and place; walk among your ancestors. See life through their eyes and learn about the courage, miracles, and dumb luck that enabled you to be who you are today.

Meticulously researched, creatively written with dollops of drama, humor, and a steady stream of historical accuracy, and enlivened with fascinating remnants of Lynn’s health history, Promising Cures will take you somewhere you’ve never been and will never forget – the life you would have lived centuries earlier.


October 25
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EDT
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Kristine Gagnon Aguiar
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548 West Main Road, Little Compton, Rhode Island