History of the Salem Witch Trials
Salem, 1692: Two young girls living in the household of one of the town’s ministers are acting strangely, having “fits.” The doctor is called, and he tells the minister that his girls are suffering from the action of the Devil’s ‘Evil Hand’ upon them. News of the doctor’s diagnosis quickly spreads and confirms what many in town are already whispering: that these girls are the victims of witchcraft; that they have been cursed by witches living somewhere in Salem.
Why Did the Salem Witch Trials Happen?
Join University of Maryland historian, Dr. Richard Bell, for a deep dive into witch-hunting in early America. We’ll begin at the beginning: What did people in colonial America believe about witchcraft, and how did they try to hunt it and fight it? What were the hallmarks of an American witch-hunt, and why is the 1692 outbreak of witch-hunting in one sleepy port town in Massachusetts still so well-known today? We’ll examine that infamous episode in depth, probing its most troubling corners. Why did that tragic episode in Salem claim so many innocent lives? Did anyone face justice for their role in perpetuating this outrage? And how have historians tried to explain the peculiar dynamics, impact, and legacy of what happened in Salem?