Let’s just say I’m not a casual Salem tourist; I’m something of a witch-hunt historian. I can tell how Charles W. Upham’s revisionist history and Arthur Miller’s artistic license with The Crucible have crept into the American story, changing how we view the past. For 20 years I’ve been researching the topic.
Every year my daughter and I visit Salem, Massachusetts. It’s our pilgrimage to the victims of the 1692 witch hunt—and because we enjoy the special vibe of the city. We’ve been on Salem’s historical walking tours and trolley tours as well as visited many of the witch-hunt attractions over the years.
But there’s much more to explore. The people and places associated with 1692 were all over Essex county and beyond. The Witches of Massachusetts Bay website was created to highlight key locations and events, whether you’re headed on a roadtrip, interested in a lunchtime talk on John Proctor, ready for the Daemonologie experience, or doing armchair research.
By searching for witch-hunt connections, I hope to expand my own understanding, because, ultimately, I think “the Witchcraft times,” as the Essex Institute referred to those fateful months, 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.
♦ ◊ ♦ ◊ ♦
Robin C. Mason is an editor, writer, and genealogist.