What Happened to Abigail Williams?

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jan 16 2012

crucible-book On Friday during a Skype in the Classroom “virtual museum tour,” a student at Oliver Street School in Newark, New Jersey – whose class is studying Arthur Miller’s The Crucible – asked what happened to the real Abigail Williams after the trials.

While Wikipedia can offer information on a wide array of subjects, there is no reason to accept the undocumented assertion that Abigail fled after the trials, becoming a prostitute.  Reliable Salem witch trials scholars are unable to give detail about her last years with any certainty, but Marilynne Roach says in The Salem Witch Trials:  A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, “…Abigail Williams, haunted to the end, apparently died before the end of 1697, if not sooner, no older than seventeen.” (page 518)

According to a biographical essay published on the University of Virginia Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project:

Even though Abigail played a major role as an accuser at the beginning of the trials, especially in March, April, and May, she gave her last testimony on June 3rd 1692. There is no historical documentation suggesting why Abigail virtually disappeared from the court hearings. In addition, there are no records indicating what happened to Abigail after the events of 1692. It is suggested that she never married and died a single woman, but without any evidence we will never be quite certain.

Modern Manners

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 08 2011

2011-student-thank-you-letter Who says people don’t send hand-written notes anymore?  This letter came from a student who visited us last month.  It doesn’t appear to be part of a class project as it’s the only one we’ve received recently.

Nice to know there are still those out there who have classic good manners.

Peter Murphy Teaches the Salem Witch Trials to Plymouth 3rd Graders

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 03 2011

peters-distance-learning-ii Here at the Salem Witch Museum we’re so blessed to have many creative, talented people on our staff.  Peter Murphy, a sophomore theater student at Salem State University, has been part of our team for the last year and hails from Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

During a recent trip home for spring break Peter took time to stop by Manomet Elementary School, where his mother is a Teacher’s Aid, to impart his knowledge of the Salem Witch trials to the third grade class.  With a photo presentation to illustrate his history lesson, Peter shared the infamous story of the tragic 1692 witchcraft accusations.  Not an easy task considering his audience of 8-year-olds might presumably rather watch Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place than learn about colonial history – and a tragic period at that.  But Peter was surprised to learn that these kids had many questions and positive views of witch characters, like those portrayed in Harry Potter or Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  “I was thrilled to find that the kids were curious about the topic, asking ‘Are witches real?’ ”

There is a broad span in perception between the Puritan notion of witches and the way these images are depicted in popular media today; though of course today we know that the accused in Salem were not in fact “witches” by any definition.  Peter described Hollywood interpretations and other stereotypes associated with the witch image.  He explained the evolution in perceptions of the archetype from ancient healing wise women, through medieval persecutions of so-called heretics and sorceresses – like Joan of Arc – all the way to the ever recognizable Wicked Witch of the West.

peter-in-ghosts-of-troy For his part, Peter was enthusiastic in his own learning experience speaking to a group of young people about the subject.  A seasoned actor in Salem State’s recent production of Ghosts of Troy, he’s no stranger to performing in front of large groups.  For his role as a seer in this “punk rock with a Cirque du Soleil twist” interpretation of the Odyssey, Peter energetically studied the athletic movement art of aerial silks.  Adept at working in front of theater audiences and guiding tours through the Salem Witch Museum exhibits, Peter was invigorated by the challenge of relating the history of the Salem witch trials to elementary school children in a classroom setting.

We’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank Peter Murphy for his passion in the projects he undertakes, in and outside of the museum.  It is an honor to work alongside him.

“Sounds Like Salem” – Guest Blogger, Cathy Hutchison

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Dec 29 2010

statue-of-liberty How lucky we are to have visitors who are passionate about the subject of human rights and witch hunts.  The talented Texas resident Cathy Hutchison of the “random Cathy…” blog caught my eye recently when she wrote about the treatment of immigrants in our country today. 

Check out her full post at: random Cathy… Sounds Like Salem

I love that she quotes from the The New Colossus, the 1883 sonnet by Emma Lazarus which is mounted on a bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.  From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips.  “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We thank Cathy for her tolerance and insight and for allowing us to share her blog.

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.

Judge Sewall’s Apology, Richard Francis

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Nov 20 2010

Richard Francis, Lecture THE LECTURE

The premier of the Old Town Hall Lecture Series on Thursday evening was a huge success!  The talk by Richard Francis, author of Judge Sewall’s Apology, gave an overview of a flesh-and-blood Samuel Sewall, the only one of nine judges presiding over the Salem witch trials to apologize for his part in the tragedy.   Read more »

Director of Education, Alison D’Amario

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 06 2010

Education outreach is one of the most important, if sometimes quietly promoted, missions of the Salem Witch Museum.  When Alison D’Amario first joined our team in 1986 there was no education department to speak of.  How times have changed!

Alison interviewed at Rebecca Nurse Homestead Alison became a member of the staff with 17 years’ background as an educator at Masconomet Regional High School.  That  experience set the tone for what would be over 25 more years of teaching, this time dealing with a relatively short but far-reaching period in the history of Colonial America.  Since coming on board Alison has been interviewed by innummerable news and documentary producers, published teachers’ materials and was a principal part of the 1992 Tercentenary Committee which initiated the Salem Award. Read more »

Salem Witch Museum Makes an Appearance on Boston’s Fox 25 News

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 29 2010

Boston’s Fox 25 News stopped by today in anticipation of Halloween 2010. Here’s a clip!

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.

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.