Please note this blog post may contain affiliate links. To read more about that, click here.
Salem is known far and wide for the Witch Trials of 1692. Many people come into our beautiful city to explore different areas and attractions that relate to the trials. Today’s blog post is going to be all about that – how you can learn about the Salem Witch Trails, some reading, some attractions and a little bit of this and that.
I hope this information helps prep you for an educated visit to the city.
The first point I want to make, one that I have stressed many times here on on my website, is this: Salem is so much more than the witch trials. This statement is not to downplay this event in Salem’s history or to disrespect the innocent lives that were lost. This statement is simply to point out that Salem has so much more going on than Halloween and so much more going on than the trials. Salem has long standing ties to the water and trade, is the birthplace of the National Guard, is home to a thriving creative community and arts community, is where the Parker Brothers games began back when it was called The George S. Parker Company and so much more. To come here and focus entirely on the trials would mean missing out on so many other amazing things you could explore and learn about.
A little bit of reading for you
I have worked with local historian Jen Ratliff here on my website before and I reached out to her about this blog post as well. I asked if she could recommend some books based around the trials and Salem’s history and boy did she deliver, you guys. If you want to brush up on your knowledge of the witch city before you get here, check out the following titles, as recommended by Jen.
- A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience – Emerson W. Baker
- The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege – Marilynne K. Roach
- Six Women of Salem : The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials – Marilynne K. Roach
- Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt – Bernard Rosenthal and Gretchen A. Adams
- Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft – Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum
- In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 – Mary Beth Norton
- The Devil in the Shape of a Woman — Carol F. Karlson
- Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England – John Putnam Demos
- The Devil in Massachusetts – Marion Starkey
- Salem Witch Trials; Salem Witchcraft, with an Account of Salem Village – Charles W. Upham
Jen also had the following suggestions to add on to your experience of learning about Salem and the trials…
- Read The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege – Marilynne K. Roach and Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt – Bernard Rosenthal and Gretchen A. Adams at the same time so you can cross reference between the narrative of the trials and copies of the documents used.
- Salem Witch Trials; Salem Witchcraft, with an Account of Salem Village – Charles W. Upham was published in 1867 and was considered an authority on the Witch Trials at the time. It is interesting to see how the trials were perceived 150 years ago.
- A Storm of Witchcraft by Emerson W. Baker is the best overview to get a scholarly, concise explanation of the Salem Witch Trials and the events that lead to them. Baker was part of the Gallows Hill Project which identified Proctors Ledge as the 1692 execution site in 2016. (Marilynne K. Roach was also part of this project.)
- Baker, Roach, and Rosenthal are considered the leading experts on the Salem Witch Trials.
Bonus books Jen suggested about Salem’s history in general…
- Salem: Place, Myth, And Memory – Nancy Luisgnan Schultz and Dane Morrison
- Architecture in Salem: An Illustrated Guide – Bryant F. Tolles
- When I lived in Salem — Caroline Howard King
If you’re already in Salem and looking to grab a few of these books I would highly recommend Wicked Good Books. They are located right on Essex street.
You can also find Jen online in the following places:
Recommended reading: Guest post: Historical Haunts by Jen Ratliff
Photo tours of two of Salem’s memorials
I know not everyone can make it into Salem easily or even at all. Here on my website I do have two photo tours available for you, one of the Proctor’s Ledge memorial and one of the memorial at the old burying point.
- A photo tour of the Proctor’s Ledge memorial, Salem MA
- A photo tour of the Witch Trials Memorial at the Old Burying Point, Salem MA
Attractions in Salem
Our friends over at Salem.org have a little list going of attractions in Salem that relate to the trials. This includes museums, interactive experiences and more. To view that list, click here.
Please keep in mind that the historical accuracy of these attractions and experiences is always shifting and being updated as new information is learned. This is just another reason why doing some reading on your own before you get here is a good idea. This way you can pick attractions that best suit what you’re looking for and the ones that are the most accurate.
Supporting Salem’s history
If you’re looking to support preservation of Salem’s history, you should check out the following organizations:
I hope this blog post gave you some insight into Salem and resources to learn about our lovely city. Feel free to comment below with your own book recommendations and suggestions. Enjoy!! <3