The Salem Witch Trials are history, but one thing’s for sure: They’re still relevant.
The Museum of Salem, located in Salem, has an amazing collection of artifacts, including artifacts of the witch trials that date to 1856.
Now, thanks to a group of historians and museum directors, the museum will be opening its doors to the public next year, starting with a new exhibit.
“There’s something unique about this place that’s not just the history but also the spirit,” said museum director Jennifer Smith, who has been working on this project since 2013.
“You have the fact that this place has such an incredible history that’s so full of history and beauty.
But also, we want to tell a story about the people who were actually doing this, about the events that took place and how they impacted people and affected society.”
And that story begins with the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
The trials were held in the town of Salem in New Hampshire during the early years of the Civil War.
On June 19, 1856, three people were accused of witchcraft in Salem.
It was the first time that the Salem witch trials had taken place.
As the witch-hunts continued, the local government in Salem started shutting down and eventually the town was evacuated.
Many of the townspeople fled to the nearby woods.
They built a camp and began a new life.
Many historians have called Salem the “capital of witchcraft” because of its role in the witch hunts.
Some historians say that the “slavery” and “fear of the unknown” of Salem led to the idea that people were going to live in isolation and it’s because of that that people would take advantage of others and be more violent and destructive than they otherwise would have been.
But some of the people arrested and accused of the crimes were actually witches themselves.
Some of them were not even able to identify themselves as witches at the time.
They just assumed that it was just the people from the town.
But historians say there was something else at work in Salem as well.
The Salem witch trial was not only a symbol of resistance and a sign of a new era of American civil rights, but it was also a catalyst for the development of witchcraft law in America.
“People were really trying to come together to make laws that would address the concerns that were raised,” said Smith.
“The Salem witch law was really about protecting the public against those who were in the shadows and who were just trying to bring something to the light of day.”
A few years later, in the early 1900s, the American Civil Liberties Union began to investigate the Salem trials.
The ACLU wanted to know what kind of crimes were occurring and what kind were the rights of the accused.
So they brought in some of their members to help.
They went out into the countryside and they actually took some of these accused people to a court house and asked them questions about the trials.
“We were able to get the names of people who had been accused of certain crimes,” said professor of history David Buehner.
“They could get their names.
And we also got their family histories and a lot of the details that the people had to go through, and they were able, by way of questioning, to sort of learn more about who was involved in this.”
And the people involved in the Salem trial were not the only ones who came into contact with the ACLU.
They also brought along lawyers.
And eventually, the ACLU was able to secure the convictions of some of those people.
But they were not just convicted.
They were executed.
That’s how the Salem witchcraft trials were brought to an end.
And as historians know all too well, those executed were later brought to trial in Salem and convicted of witchcraft.
The people convicted included members of the Salem church, including two prominent figures in the community.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
In 1892, a man named John T. Williams and his wife, Florence, were convicted of murder.
But in the end, they were acquitted.
And Florence and John Williams continued to live peacefully in the city of Salem and their children lived there.
But a year later, another person named William C. Williams, a former member of the church, was convicted of murdering Florence Williams.
That same year, a woman named Elizabeth Ann St. James was convicted and executed.
And then, in 1893, another woman named Jane B. Pomeroy was convicted in the murder of her own sister.
And so, over the years, a lot more people were convicted.
And there were also many innocent people who went to trial.
In 1897, the Salem Municipal Court convicted a man, Thomas W. Thompson, of murdering his wife.
And in 1903, a person named Mary B. Hodge was convicted for her role in a fire that destroyed the Salem home of her husband, Charles M. Hoyle.