Witch Trials Weekly Promo – Project Overview [YouTube link]
It’s that time of year again – here at the Salem Witch Museum we like to make the most of the season by sprucing up in January.
We’ll be closed Monday through Friday January 6th through 10th and again January 13th through the 17th.
We’ll reopen the museum and gift shop Saturdays and Sundays. Reopen daily on January 18th.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 978-744-1692.
Date: October 3, 2013
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
For reservations email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call: 978.744.1692
Where: Salem Witch Museum
19 ½ Washington Square North
Salem, MA 01970
In Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, author and historian, Marilynne K. Roach chronicles the lives of six specific women involved in the witch hunt who represent the accusers, the accused, or both, and uses their unique stories to illuminate the larger crisis of the trials. Roach works to reconstruct the events of the trials, bringing to life this representative group of women, and examines the entire experience of the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of those who lived through the hysteria and delivers a historically intimate narrative that gives readers a front row seat to this desperate and dangerous time in history.
Marilynne K. Roach works as both a historian and illustrator. Her illustrations, how-to articles, and travel pieces have been featured in the Boston Globe. She’s lectured to groups ranging in age from kindergarteners to senior citizens, and is the author of the classic The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.
Last year Kemal Argon, a contributor to Huffington Post, wondered What Can The Salem Witch Museum Teach American Muslims? . Yet this spring after the Boston Marathon bombing a few of our staff, reeling with the aftermath of the horrific events so close to home and family, expressed apprehension about discussing religious, cultural, sexual, gender and racial tolerance in our second exhibit.
Fear + Trigger = Scapegoat
Our second exhibit Witches Evolving Perceptions looks at the evolution of folklore and stereotypes that lead to scapegoating, especially of those accused of witchcraft in Essex County 1692. The formula for a witch hunt fits to explain other scapegoating events, for example the McCarthy hearings in the United States in the 1950’s.
Trigger: Dr. Griggs
Scapegoats: 150 Townspeople
Fear: Imperial Japan
Trigger: Pearl Harbor
Scapegoats: 100,000 +/- Japanese Americans put in internment camps
Trigger: HUAC / Senator Joseph McCarthy
Scapegoats: Blacklisted citizens
Scapegoats: Gay community
There are many other examples of witch hunting in the United States and elsewhere in the world throughout history. Using the formula, it could be said that the treatment of law abiding Muslim-Americans as terrorists in a post-9/11 environment certainly follows.
When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred this spring, one unforeseen result was that tourists visiting the city were rerouted elsewhere, including to Salem; the Salem Witch Museum hosted several unscheduled tour groups, even as the Boston police were chasing down the suspects, and most people in the area were single-minded in their concern. It was a surreal day where citizens of the metro Boston area were unified in prayer of sorts, while political and social tensions were escalating.
A couple members of our staff struggled with discussing tolerance in our second exhibit that day. While there were those who felt that Muslims as a whole should not be allowed to immigrate to the United States, others believed that this was the precisely the time to hold fast to our commitment to teach the lessons of intolerance.
To address the conflict, staff members researched various media for a broad sample of opinions on the subject of Muslims in America: some pro, some con. We realized that this complicated issue brought to mind the very real conflict between our moral ideals and our naturally occurring human fears and prejudices. Today as much as in 1692.
We found the research and following discussions somewhat unsatisfying, as none of the opinions expressed were coming from the very people whose presence in our midst we were examining. Museum director, Tina Jordan, reached out to our Education Director Emerita, Alison D’Amario, to help us get a more personal view of the issue. Alison has taught English at the Immigrant Learning Center, Malden, MA through which she’s been afforded a genuine familiarity with – unedited by mass media – the daily lives and stories of people, including Muslims, who have decided to live in the United States.
. . . . . to be continued. . . . .
In part II, we’ll recap a moving evening of discussion on the topic of the treatment of Muslims in the Boston area after the fateful marathon bombing of this spring.
Betty Parris, Reverend Parris’ nine year old daughter, falls ill. Soon, other girls in Salem Village are likewise “afflicted.”
D. William Griggs, village physician, decides that the girls are bewitched.
On the advice of Mary Sibley, a member of Parris’ congregation, Tituba and John Indian, Parris’ servants, bake a witch cake to persuade the girls to reveal the names of those who are bewitching them.
Warrants are issued for the arrests of Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba, named by the afflicted girls.
Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne are examined in the meeting house in Salem Village by Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. Only Tituba confesses.
Abigail Williams accuses Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft.
Rebecca Nurse is examined before Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.
Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce (Rebecca Nurse’s sister) are examined in Salem Town. John Proctor is accused and later imprisoned.
Rev. George Burroughs is arrested in Wells, Maine.
Sarah Osborne dies in prison in Boston.
Increase Mather returns from England with a new charter and a new governor, Sir William Phips.
The Court of Oyer and Terminer is established to try witchcraft cases. Its members are: Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne, and Jonathan Corwin. Sometime after June 2 Nathaniel Saltonstall resigns from the court, dissatisfied with its proceedings.
Bridget Bishop is tried and condemned at the first sitting of the court in Salem.
Bridget Bishop is executed on Gallows Hill in Salem.
Twelve ministers of the colony advise the court not to rely entirely on spectral evidence to obtain convictions.
Rebecca Nurse, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Good, and Sarah Wildes are executed on Gallows Hill. Sarah Good tells Rev. Noyes that if she is hanged he will have blood to drink. Tradition says that twenty-five years later, Noyes died of a hemorrhage of the throat.
George Jacobs, Martha Carrier, George Burroughs, John Proctor and John Willard are hanged. Although George Burroughs recited the Lord’s Prayer perfectly on the gallows, Cotton Mather insisted that, “…the Devil has often been transformed into an Angel of Light.”
Giles Corey is pressed to death for refusing to stand trial.
Martha Corey, Margaret Scott, Mary Easty (sister of Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Cloyce), Alice Parker, Ann Pudeator, Wilmott Redd, Samuel Wardwell, and Mary Parker are hanged on Gallows Hill.
Increase Mather addresses a meeting of ministers in Cambridge to warn against reliance on spectral evidence. “It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned…”
Gov. Phips dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
A Superior Court tries to the remaining witchcraft cases.
The new Superior Court condemns three of the fifty-six persons accused of witchcraft. Chief Justice Stoughton signs death warrants for those three and for five others condemned in 1692.
William Stoughton leaves the court after Gov. Phips reprieves the eight Stoughton had condemned.
Governor Phips pardons those still imprisoned on the charge of witchcraft.
Witchcraft is no longer an actionable legal offense in Massachusetts Bay Colony
Twelve of the jurors of the Court of Oyer and Terminer sign a statement of contrition.
Joseph Green, the new minister of Salem Village, tries to bring peace and reconciliation to his parishioners by seating the families of the accusers and accused together in his church.
January 13, 1697
A day of “prayer with fasting” is observed to ask God to “…pardon all the errors of His Servants.” Judge Samuel Sewall declares his feelings of “blame and shame” and asks God to pardon his sins.
Samuel Parris resigns from the ministry of Salem Village and moves to Boston.
The General Court declares the witchcraft procedure, especially the use of spectral evidence, to be unlawful.
Ann Putnam stands in church while Rev. Joseph Green reads her statement repenting her role in the witchcraft trials.
Twenty-one survivors and their families petition the court for redress of the loss of their civil rights and property.
The General Court reverses the attainders (loss of civil rights) of those victims whose survivors had so petitioned. Gov. Dudley never signs the petition.
Supervised by Stephen Sewall, five hundred seventy-eight English pounds are distributed to the survivors and families. Amounts of restitution vary.
The Province of Massachusetts Bay becomes one of the few governments ever to voluntarily compensate persons who had been victimized by its own policies.
August 28, 1957
A General Court Resolve in favor of “Ann Pudeator and certain others” absolves their descendants of their burden of guilt and shame. The Resolve states that the accused may have been tried illegally.
October 31, 2001
Governor Jane M. Swift of Massachusetts amends the 1957 resolve to include Ann Pudeator, Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, and Wilmott Redd.
Visitors whose ancestors were involved in the Salem witch trials often ask us to point their investigations in the right direction. There are online ancestry resources, document transcripts and historic narratives that can provide clues and details of their families’ lives.
Research uncovers so many captivating human stories. In this case Peter helps a descendent of Sarah Basset:
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By Peter Murphy
Sarah Hood Bassett was born in August of 1657 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts to Richard Hood and Mary Newhall. In her eighteenth year, on October 25, 1675 she married William Bassett, Jr., who was the brother of Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, wife of John Proctor. Both John and Elizabeth Proctor were accused and tried for witchcraft; John was hanged on August 19th, 1692, whereas Elizabeth escaped persecution due to her pregnancy. Their daughter, Sarah Proctor, was also accused of witchcraft at age 16 on the same day as her aunt Sarah Bassett. Thomas Putnam and John Putnam, Jr. issued this complaint on May 21, 1692, exactly one month after the examination of Mary Warren (John and Elizabeth Proctor’s hired girl) who claimed Elizabeth Proctor administered an ointment to her which she received from “Mrs. Bassits of Linn.”
Only two days after the Putnam’s complaint against Sarah Basset she was brought to jail in Boston on May 23, 1692, where she remained until her release on December 3, 1692. One month after her release another indictment was issued for afflicting Mary Walcott, but was returned “ignoramus,” meaning the charges were ignored due to lack of evidence.
Not long after the ordeal was over, Sarah gave birth to a daughter whom she named Deliverance as an ode to her freedom. Sarah Bassett died at age 64 in 1721.
While no burial record exists, I have theorized that she may be buried in the Western Burial Ground in Lynn, Massachusetts. This was the only operational burial ground in the town at the time of her death with the exception of a Lynnfield burial ground opened in 1720, but where the oldest inscription dates only back to 1723. Further evidence that may lend itself to my hypothesis is the fact that Lynn’s Western Burial Ground contains 19th Century graves sporting Sarah’s married name – Bassett – and her mother’s maiden name – Newhall.
Ancestry.com Connection between Proctor and Nurse Families
New England Historic Genealogical Society Hunting for Salem “Witches” in Your Family Tree
Records of the Salem Witch Hunt , Bernard Rosenthal General Editor
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, Marilynne K. Roach
We have the privilege of working closely with historian Marilynne Roach on many projects. She answers nuanced questions about the Salem witch trials, helping our staff interpret the underpinnings of the events, and is a perpetual inspiration in understanding what can be learned from Essex County’s 1692 experience.
If you don’t yet own a copy of The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, now is your chance to get one of 20 remaining signed copies of the book.
In our shop or online, while supplies last!
If you follow our blog you know how much we love local arts and artisans. We do our part to sustain North Shore crafters by providing marketing and financial support to the creative community and by carrying their work in our museum store. We proudly sponsor events like the Salem Film Fest, Mass Poetry Festival, and Salem Literary Fest just to name a few.
When visitors from distant places come to Salem, naturally they want to take a bit of their individual experience back home with them. Local art is not only a means for our neighbors to live creative, compassionate lives, but items traveling back to visitors’ homelands spreads our culture and shares the flavor of our area. So when an artisan like Marblehead resident Dorothy Arthur of Dot’s Pots infuses a beautiful piece of functional art with architectural essence – such as her lanterns of prominent windows – the connection between place and the visitor is steeped even stronger.
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From MAA newsletter :
The Marblehead Arts Association- Call for Works
Fine Art of Craft
March 16 – April 21
To see craft is to enter a world of wonderful things which can be challenging, beautiful, sometimes useful, tactile, artistic and extraordinary – and to understand and enjoy the care which has gone into their making. Contemporary craft is about making hand crafted objects of art and ensures the highest standard of workmanship exhibiting a working knowledge of tools and materials.
The Marblehead Arts Association (MAA) is presenting “Fine Art of Craft”, an exhibit from March 16-April 21. This juried exhibit invites both MAA and non-MAA artisans in the general categories of ceramics/pottery; fiber/textile; metalwork/silversmith; woodwork/furniture and glass and the creative overlap or blending of these mediums. Jurying is based on creativity of design, quality of materials and attention to detail in overall workmanship and presentation.
For information and submission: www.marbleheadarts.org
First let’s get a working definition.
US Legal.com :
“Spectral evidence refers to a witness testimony that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to him/her witness in a dream at the time the accused person’s physical body was at another location. It was accepted in the courts during the Salem Witch Trials. The evidence was accepted on the basis that the devil and his minions were powerful enough to send their spirits, or specters, to pure, religious people in order to lead them astray.
In spectral evidence, the admission of victims’ conjectures is governed only by the limits of their fears and imaginations, whether or not objectively proven facts are forthcoming to justify them. [State v. Dustin, 122 N.H. 544, 551 (N.H. 1982)].”
We know that the Court of Oyer and Terminer, formed in June 1692 for the purpose of hearing cases awaiting in Boston’s jails backlogged while the Charter with England was being hammered out, recognized spectral evidence despite that it was not in keeping with generally accepted procedure of the time. In Law and People in Colonial America Peter Charles Hoffer offers this characterization (p. 41):
“The result of having laymen on the high-court benches might be…swift and sensible justice. Massachusetts superior Court justices, such as Samuel Sewall, were deeply moral men, concerned about the quality of their performance. Sewall was typical of the best lay judges – well traveled, well schooled, much respected, and experienced in colonial government and in hearing and deciding lawsuits, if not learned in the law. In the Salem witchcraft tirals of 1692 the judges, including Sewall, departed from current, learned, English practice, and did so with tragic consequences.
There were no trained lawyers on the bench, but all believed that there was a devil and that he contracted secretly with men and women to do his evil work in the colony. Thus, at least in theory, witches had the power to leave their bodies and in spectral form assault their victims.”
The following passage from another of Hoffer’s works the Salem Witchcraft Trials: A Legal History is further clarifying (page 78-79):
Mather fretted, “Our neighbors at Salem are blown up after a sort, with an infernal gunpowder, under the floor.” What could that mean? To us the reference may be obscure, but to his fellow Puritans the implication was obvious. In 1605 a band of Roman Catholics, driven to despair by King James’s persecution of their faith, tried to blow up the English houses of Parliament. The plan was discovered at the last minute, and the conspirators were executed, but the “gunpowder plot” became a symbol among Protestants of the danger Roman Catholicism posed to English Protestantism. In 1689 Parliament drove James II, a Roman Catholic, from the throne of England and replaced him with a Dutch Protestant, William of Orange, and James’s daughter, Mary, William’s wife. They were to rule jointly. A war followed in which Protestants battled Roman Catholics at home and abroad. This was the war that brought the Indians and their French Roman Catholic allies to the doorstep of Salem. Thus the Puritans saw Roman Catholicism as a continuing and powerful threat to Protestantism in England and the survival of Puritanism in New England. They also believed that Roman Catholic priests were in league with the Devil. Reports of priests and Indians worshiping the Devil before they attacked Massachusetts towns regularly made the rounds of the colony.
But the problem of spectral evidence remained, for the only ones who could see the witches in their spectral form, and thus say who it was that caused their pain, were the accusers themselves. Here Mather could find no answers in his library. He must leave it and enter the world of ordinary people. No abstract theory or abstruse theology could dictate commonly accepted contemporary notions of the truth of testimony.”
Even while most people had misgivings about the validity and use of supernatural proof, Cotton Mather cited a precedent from 1664 wherein Mathew Hale asserts that such evidence is suitable in cases of necessity. Mather interprets “in particular, the political crisis of the colony and the terrors of war. War against the Devil and war against the popish French and their Indian allies were the same in his mind.” (Ibid., p. 89)
Image, “The soul-killing witches that deform the body” shared from University of Virginia SWT Documentary Archive and Transcription Project.
Caption: “The soul-killing witches that deform the body,” Shaks.
Description: The image shows two witches stirring a steaming cauldron; it was published in a 1828 edition of Robert Calef’s More Wonders of the Invisible World. In the background a witch rides on a broomstick, brandishing a snake in her hand; to the left, spectral images fly out of the boiling cauldron; and a cat leaps into the scene from the right. References to cat familiars, flying witches, and spectral images are common features of the court records of the Salem witch trials.
Source: Frontispiece, The Wonders of the Invisible World Displayed, by Robert Calef. New Edition. Boston: T. Bedlington, 1828. Image by permission of the University of Virginia Library, Special Collections. © The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 2003.
After two relatively snow-free winters we were due for a doozy. And Nemo delivered.
State and city governments made the call early on Thursday to keep people off roads Friday and through the weekend while cleanup crews dealt with, not multiple inches but, multiple feet in some areas. Here at the Salem Witch Museum we opened for part of the day Friday, closing for the safety of our staff and visitors through to Sunday. Folks must have had cabin fever because we had a number more visitors than usual once we reopened. The bad news is that Salem’s So Sweet ice sculptures couldn’t be delivered as planned; the good news is that we’re essentially rescheduling the festivities to this upcoming weekend.
Driving through labyrinths of snowbanks makes travel still slow going, and finding parking can take even more time. For the next day or so it’s probably a good idea to give ourselves a head start if we need to be somewhere. Which is fine, because it’ll give us a chance to enjoy the beauty of the season.
Thanks to Salem Witch Wiles for this photo: