, Salem, MA


August 1, 2012

Witch trials calendar gives daily perspective


How is the calendar organized?

It’s written like a diary. At the back, there are a lot of biographies of people involved. If their name is highlighted blue or yellow, you can go in back and find a biography of that person, blue for an accuser, yellow names for those accused of witchcraft. The calendar has two maps. You can take them and tour around and see where these people lived. The map references and biographies are mentioned in the diary entries.

Why organize it as a calendar?

I realized the crisis lasted a year, from January to December pretty much. A lot of people have said, you’ve got to publish it as a guidebook. But then it doesn’t have the urgency.

After visiting all those sites on the maps, where people lived and events occurred, what effect did it have on the way you view what happened in 1692?

What’s astonishing is they didn’t live that close to each other. It’s a long slog to visit each other, yet they hated each other with a passion. Some of these people in Danvers were accusing women in places like Amesbury, miles through the woods. How would they develop an animus against these people so far away?

Why did they do that, do you think?

Undoubtedly, the accused had for a long time been stigmatized by witchcraft accusations, and all of Essex County knew their names and associated them with witchcraft.

What struck you about those places today?

What I think is amazing is that so many really important places are unknown. The town doesn’t mark any of these sites. The place where the witches were executed — within 100 yards, you can know pretty confidently where the executions took place — yet this is an unmarked spot behind Walgreens on Boston Street, erased by urban sprawl.

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