The Salem Witch Trials and Mass Hysteria
GOAL: My biggest goal for this project was not only to understand the events of the Salem Witch Trials more, but to understand how they escalated.
EVALUATION: I double checked my timeline with the source I was using , as well as David Moffat, from the Salem Historical society. He reaffirmed that the information on my timeline was accurate, as well as giving me the suggestion to add more to it.
This project is connected to my science fair project, so a lot of my process came from that. I did a lot of research about Mass Hysteria, and created a rough draft of my timeline to take to Salem. I learned so much, not only by talking to David, but by just being there as well. I was surprised at first when David told me that a lot of people still don’t like to talk about the witch trials, and how it still upset them, but after the trip it was less hard for me to believe. The town has grown to be much more than a tourist destination, proudly supporting LGBTQ rights as well as supporting artists, local and otherwise, through the multitude of museums.
However, the town has by no means forgotten the witch trials. There are at least three museums related to the trials in town as well as memorials and tourist shops. What surprised me the most was the amount of people who still don’t like to talk about the trials. According to David, a lot of the people who are related to the judges in the trials do not participate in the towns general celebration and acknowledgement of history. By far the most interesting thing I learned from David regarding this, something that had not really crossed my mind, was the fact that wealth and social status was a big part of the trials. With few if any exceptions, it was the rich accusing the poor of witchcraft. The Putams and the Parrises were two of the most well known, well established, well adapted families in town, and the first accusations of witchcraft came from within their houses.