Confused about where to start to learn more about the long history of the Salem Witch Trials? Any historical journey begins with one (or all) of these three stops.
Salem in Massachusetts is perhaps best known for its Salem Witch Trials. It was a series of hearings and executions of people accused of witchcraft in the former colony of Massachusetts. They have haunted America ever since and are a reminder of how much thought has changed since those early days.
The Salem witch trials took place between February 1692 and May 1693. At that time, more than 200 people were charged and 30 were convicted. 19 were executed, while one was forced to death for refusing to plead, and 5 or more others are believed to have died in prison. There are many colonial attractions to visit in New England and Massachusetts in particular. Be sure to visit the Living Plimoth Patuxet Museum (formerly Plimoth Plantation) where the Puritans first settled.
Background to the Salem Witch Trials
It was the deadliest witch hunt in colonial North American history. Throughout the remainder of the 17th century in Massachusetts and neighboring Connecticut, “only” 14 other women and 2 other men were executed.
- More than 200: have been accused
- 19 Hanged: 14 women and 5 men
- 5 people: Death in prison
The Salem Witch Trails are considered one of the worst examples of mass hysteria in colonial America. They have been used as reasons to never forget due process and to control extremism.
- Women: About 78% of those accused and convicted
Most of those accused and convicted of witchcraft were women. Puritan beliefs at the time in New England were that women were inherently sinful and more likely to be damned than men. While the Puritans believed that men and women were equal before God, they were not before the devil. Women were more likely to be charged if they were not married or had no children. One can visit a replica of the original Mayflower that brought the Puritans to New Plymouth today.
Salem Witch Museum
One of the main attractions of Salem Witch Hunt is the Salem Witch Museum which delves into what would become one of the most enduring and moving events in American history. Their museum is made up of two presentations. The first offers an immersive look at the events of 1692. Visitors will discover these dark times and the web of lies and intrigue that plagued the witch hunt.
The second exhibit is titled “Witches: Evolving Perception” and is a tour focused on the meaning of the word witch. They will find out how the image of witches has changed over time. They went from the Devil’s black magic workers who sow death for the good people of this world, to the evil green witches of the west (or good witches of the north), to the students of Hogwarts.
This presentation focuses on the European witch trials (nothing happens in a vacuum) and the emergence of the stereotypical witch and the growth of the witch hunt.
- Open: Year round daily (closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and a few weeks in January for renovations)
- Presentations: Offered every half hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Admission: Adults: $ 15 | Elders: (65 and over) $ 13.50 | Children: (3-14) $ 12
- Address: 19 1/2 Washington Square North, Salem, Massachusetts 01970
Witch Hunting Tours & Movie – Essex National Heritage Area
There are a number of Salem witch walking tours available. One is Myth and Misconceptions – Walking Tour. These appalling trials that took place over 300 years ago have been dramatized in the media, films, documentaries and books. One of the dangers of this is that the real story can get lost.
This tour seeks to delve into history and uncover the myths and misconceptions that grew about the Salem Witch Trials. We’ll see what really happened and why it happened.
- Duration: About. 1 hour
- Understand : Stops at the Witch Trails Memorial and the original 17th-century prison site
- Price of visits: Adults: $ 12.00 | Elders: (62+) $ 10.00 | Children: (6-16) $ 9.00
- Under 6 years old: FREE
Another attraction they offer is the movie Salem Witch Hunt: Examine The Evidence. This is presented by Essex Heritage and the National Park Service. The film features authentic dialogues and has been studied by renowned academics. It was shot on real locations from the witch trials.
- Film times: Wednesday to Sunday at 11:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (may change with the season)
- Cinema ticket prices: Adults: $ 5.00 | Elders: (62+) $ 3.00 | Children: (6-16) $ 3.00
- Under: 6 FREE
There are many other witch hunt themed tours in Salem. A list of Salem tours can be found here. Salem is one of America’s most historic cities and one that is haunted by the past.
One of the best places in America to experience the nation’s colonial history is in the Historic Triangle of Virginia, which includes the original site and replica of Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, and the historic Yorktown Battlefields. .
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