Bum Roll, Please

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Feb 01 2011

Bum Roll - 17th Century Clothing A Salem Witch Museum visitor named Mike was wondering about an article of clothing displayed in our textile case.  “It looks like a pillow used during air travel,” offered one cheeky staff member.  Though it does appear to be something worn around the neck, think…lower.  

According to Nancy Cooke, the seamstress expert in historic textiles who created the piece, it’s called a “bum roll.”  It was a stiffened roll of material tied under a woman’s skirt at the waist as an extension of the corset.  By the standards of colonial fashion this garment served to exaggerate the backside giving the waist a slimmer silhouette.

The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft & Conflict in Early New England

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 18 2010

Devil of Great Island This past Thursday evening we enjoyed the second  fascinating lecture hosted by Gordon College at Old Town Hall.  Dr. Emerson “Tad” Baker discussed his book The Devil of Great Island:  Witchcraft & Conflict in Early New England, introducing the work as a unique look at New England witchcraft that does not focus on Salem.  Dr. Baker has been a historical archeologist as well as a museum director and is currently a public historian and professor at Salem State College.

Ten years before the Salem outbreak, in a place called Great Island (today New Castle) near Portsmouth, NH, there were reported incidents of “lithobolia.”  Though educated men of the day knew Greek and Latin and would have been familiar with the term, I needed translation:  stone-throwing of the Devil.  Hundreds of flying stones, some as heavy as eight pounds, beset the tavern owned by George and Alice Walton for several months, yet no one had ever seen anyone throwing them.  These occurrences, as many other inexplicable events at that time, were perceived as acts of witchcraft. 

When we look further into the details, the first to come into view are the relationships and territorial boundaries between the key individuals of the story.  I don’t want to give away the delicious unfolding of the narrative, so I’ll share only that the Waltons had been in land disputes with neighbor Hanna Jones, who was accused of being a witch.  There had also been infighting in the vicinity about the establishment of a separate meeting house in which to worship.  Although Dr. Emerson explores this history north of Mass Bay Colony, he does acknowledge that, “…when it comes to witchcraft in early New England, all roads eventually lead to Salem.”

In fact, it seems as though there are many common factors between Great Island and Salem.  Neighbors disagreeing over territorial margins were certainly a dynamic that set the stage for the Salem witchcraft accusations.  Uncannily, heated debates about an independent meeting house in Salem Village were significant to conditions that allowed the events to unfold as they did in 1692.

If you’re as interested in the environment and events leading to the Salem Witchcraft Trials as I am, next week’s post will be dedicated to the aspect of territorial disputes in Salem Village prior to the eruption of witchcraft accusations.  Stay tuned…

Salem Award Foundation Receives Coveted Annenberg Grant

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 04 2010

You may have heard in recent news that the Salem Award Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Annenburg Foundation. 

Read the full story in the Salem Gazette.

charles-annenberg-weingarten “Charles Weingarten visited Salem last fall to research the history of the witch trials in preparation for a possible film.  He contacted Alison D’Amario, Patty MacLeod and Tina Jordan, of the Salem Witch Museum.  D’Amario and MacLeod were instrumental in establishing the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and the Salem Award Foundation.  During his exploration at historic sites with local experts, they told him about the Salem Award and its mission to educate the public through the lessons of the trials.”

The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice

Charles Annenberg Weingarten (pictured left).  Photo courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation.

View Mr. Weingarten’s Film – Salem Witch Hunt

The Salem Witch Museum is proud to be part of a community dedicated to contributing to the cause of human rights and social justice.

Professor Benjamin C. Ray Lectures at the House of Seven Gables

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 13 2010

Professor Benjamin Ray of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia lectured to a sold out room at the House of Seven Gables this week.  Professor Ray is the project director of Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project where everyone “from teachers to fourth graders” can now readily access 8,000 searchable pages from source documents online. Read more »

A New Look at the Salem Witch Trials

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 27 2010

The House of the Seven Gables will welcome Professor Benjamin C. Ray from the University of Virginia to present a talk entitled “A New Look at the Salem Witch Trials: Report on the most Recent Research” on Sunday November 7th, 2010 at 2:00 PM.

Professor Ray’s lecture will focus on the new scholarly edition of the court records of the Salem Witch Trials titled Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt. This book, of which Dr. Ray is an associate editor, is the first comprehensive record of all legal documents pertaining to the Salem Witch Trials in chronological order. With the inclusion of previously undiscovered manuscripts as well as documents published in earlier additions and omitted from later, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt offers the most comprehensive historic account of the events of 1692-1693.

Tickets are $10 for non-members and $5 for members of The House of the Seven Gables&. For tickets, please call The House of the Seven Gables at 978-744-0991 ext. 104.

October 1692

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 24 2010

From Marilynne K. Roach’s Chronology of the Salem Witch Trials

sir-william-phips With opposition to the court’s methods growing, Governor Phips suspends the Court of Oyer and Terminer until England can advise on the witch problem.  Some of the younger suspects are released on bail.

Image of Sir William Phips from University of Virginia website “Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project”:

Description: Portrait of Sir William Phips. Oil painting by Thomas Child, Boston, ca. 1687-94.
Source: Cover illustration. The New England Knight: Sir William Phips, 1651-1695. By Emerson W. Baker and John G. Reid. University of Toronto Press, 1998. Photograph by Nicholas Dean, courtesy of the Gardiner family.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


June 10, 1692

Bridget Bishop

July 19, 1692

Sarah Good

Rebecca Nurse

Susannah Martin

Elizabeth How

Sarah Wildes

August 19, 1692

George Burroughs

John Proctor

John Willard

George Jacobs

Martha Carrier

September 19, 1692

Giles Cory, pressed to death

September 22, 1692

Martha Cory

Mary Eastey

Alice Parker

Ann Pudeater

Margaret Scott

Wilmott Redd

Samuel Wardwell

Mary Parker

Judge Samuel Sewall

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 13 2010

On November 18, the Gordon College Institute for Public History In Historic Salem inaugurates a series of lectures, Old Town Hall Lectures, in Salem’s historic Old Town Hall.

The inaugural lecture is being given by Richard Francis, on his book,
Judge Sewall’s Apology: The Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of a Conscience (London and New York: Fourth Estate, 2005) [Buy a copy on our online store]


Here’s a description from the website:

The Salem witch hunt has entered our vocabulary as the very essence of  injustice. Judge Samuel Sewall presided at these trials, passing harsh judgment on the condemned. But five years later, he publicly recanted his guilty verdicts and begged for forgiveness. This extraordinary act was a turning point not only for Sewall but also for America’s nascent values and mores.

We were curious to find out more about Judge Sewall. As it turns out, Google books has scanned in his published diaries and you can read them online. Search for “witchcraft” and this is the entry from August 19, 1692:

Clicking on the diary image above will send you to the Google Books site where you can read more.