If you enjoy diving into interesting, psychologically dense, and very scary stories around Halloween time, Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, has just the thing for you. And even though it is October in “The Witch City” you won’t find pointy black hats or flying brooms in this story. It is real, and disturbing, and it happened in Massachusetts in the 1600s.
We’re talking about the Salem Witch Trials, a period of community-wide hysteria that gripped Salem from mid-1692 to early 1693 and led to imprisonment for scores of people and execution of 25 people, most by hanging and one who was crushed to death.
The exhibit “The Salem Witch Trials 1692,” now on display at the Peabody Essex Museum, presents rarely-seen documents and objects from the trials that tell the grim story from the viewpoint of the accused and the accusers.
The panic grew from a society threatened by nearby war and a crippled judicial system in a town rife with religious intolerance.
The exhibit includes is the death warrant for Bridget Bishop, the first of 19 people to be hanged; petitions from accused people; testimony from accusers; and the physical examinations of the accused.
A sister exhibit also running at the museum is “Salem Stories,” showing 26 vignettes about what makes the city unique.
Salem is a city of stories: Alexander Graham Bell made the first successful long-distance telephone call from Salem in 1877. Parker Brothers produced Monopoly here. “Salem Stories” tells about Native people, an interesting immigrant family from the Caribbean, and many other topics.