28 February 2018

Introducing the Witches of Massachusetts Bay website

As some of you already know, I've been studying, researching, and writing about the Salem witch trials for 20+ years. I love Salem. But when I visit, I expect to see evidence of the 1692 witch trials. But where is the court house? The documents? The tangible objects that remind us of the victims, the accusers, the judges?

Good question.

Instead of blogging these last few months, I've been putting together my new Witches of Massachusetts Bay website. It launched in late January to highlight locations and artifacts as well as provide a calendar of related events, whether you’re headed on a roadtrip, interested in a lunchtime talk on John Proctor, or ready for the Daemonologie experience. I also added information for doing armchair research and, yes, started another blog.

Get Ready for a Roadtrip

Relevant historical and genealogical societies, museums, historic sites, libraries, and cemeteries are listed on the Roadtrips pages by town. In time, I would like to include detailed information about how each one fits into the witch-hunt theme. For example, the Macy-Colby House in Amesbury displays the wooden cradle from executed “witch” Susannah (North) Martin’s family; the Old North Parish Burial Ground in North Andover includes burials of accused witches William Barker Sr. and his son William Barker Jr.; the Danvers Archival Center has books, manuscripts, and pamphlets on witchcraft; and the Beverly Historical Society offers tours of the house where Rev. John Hale wrote his Modest Inquiry book on witchcraft. On the Roadtrips pages, I’ve also included online book and record links.

Witch-Hunt and 17th Century-Focused Events

It seems I always found out about an event after it happened. No more! Now you can find out when a local history society is giving a tour of the Old Burial Grounds, attend a lecture on a family involved in the witch hunts, visit a home connected to the trials, learn about Wampanoag lives, or experience History Camp Boston. The calendar includes ongoing exhibits and special events, like 17th century Saturdays, so you know what's happening before you go.

Help with Research

The Research section includes lists of accused witches and old place names—as well as digital collections, books, records, and multimedia online that encompass more than one location.

Blogging on 'Witches'

The blog is for witch-hunt-related news, the latest research, Q&As with historians, book notices, collections highlights, etc. For example, I did a Q&A with a novelist about her book on accused witch Abigail (Dane) Faulkner; used Google Maps’ fix function to correct which Bishop lived where; and discovered the somewhat unknown witch trial items at the Supreme Court in Salem.

Learning from the Past

By searching for these locations and researching witch-hunt connections, I hope to expand my own understanding, because, ultimately, I think the witch hunts have much to teach us as individuals and as a society. Some of the accused may have dabbled in fortunetelling, folk-healing, and the like, but they were not witches who made pacts with the devil, performed Satanic rites, or shapeshifted to harm their neighbors. They were ordinary people with flaws, just like you and me.

If you're a witch-hunt historian, researcher, descendant, or just curious, check out my Witches of Massachusetts Bay website. I also invite you to sign up for my occasional emails, follow me on Twitter @witchesmassbay and Facebook, and spread the word. Thanks!