Giles Corey was a person that was subjected to getting pressed by large rocks that eventually killed him because he refused to enter a plea of guilty and not guilty. Apart from this, many others were peer pressured into confessing to witchcraft during the Salem witch trial.
The Salem witch trials was a period of time where accusations of being a witch were prominent and deadly. In most cases, the judge would rule to hang who they suspected as witches. Also, suspicions and resentment towards one another led to people naming others as witches. As more and more people became accused of witchcraft Salem was in a constant state of fear.
This interest was increased after reading the “Crucible” a historical fiction play telling what happened in the witch trials this school year. Reading and learning about the Salem witch trials was not enough because it is a whole different experience to read about something and see it in real life. Due to this dark history, Salem is a place that always sparked my interest. I decided to go see the place associated with the devil and Halloween for myself.
February is not an ideal time to visit Salem with the cold weather because most of the tourist attractions are outside and more favorable in warmer weather.
Planning the trip was difficult and a nightmare because I could only rely on google reviews to get the best experience with a limited budget. Despite these challenges, I did find many things to plan like going to the Essex Peabody museum, seeing the bewitched statue, and visiting Salem’s historic houses. I wanted to especially visit the Essex Peabody Museum because museums are places full of knowledge and the Essex Peabody Museum had a Salem witch trial exhibit. I also wanted to get a local perspective of Salem because I would only be in Salem for a few hours, and the experience of a local would be valuable information to compare to the stereotypes often seen online. All in all, I wanted to get a local experience of Salem.
It was a fairly short ride to Salem through the commuter rail and it was a short walk to get to downtown Salem where the Peabody museum is. As I was walking, I wanted to take in every sight of Salem since it is so surreal being in a new place. I was looking around and then suddenly something caught my eye. It was a stone plaque with the name Giles Corey engraved and what had happened right in the spot I was standing in. I couldn’t believe it because if you look at the buildings there is no way you would have thought a hanging had happened. It felt like I had time traveled back in time.
Finally arriving, I walked into the Essex Peabody museum to have my interview with Dinah Cardin the content producer at Peabody Essex Museum. She writes press releases, is the editor of the Peabody Essex Museum blog, and produces podcasts, and all of Peabody Essex Museum’s audio content.
Cardin distinguishes that in Salem people, “can be whoever I really think that that kind of has come from [Salem witch trials]. … we try to think about the word judgment, I think because judging is what led to the witch trials.” From all the research I had done on the witch trials, no one had really highlighted the lessons from the Salem witch trials, just what had happened. This really opened my eyes to the fact that society continues to evolve as a result of individuals growing and changing. Society is made up of humans who are flawed, but if we continue to change for the better, society will change for the better.
To highlight the judgment-free space that is Salem, Cardin shared“We have four different drag queens performing on four different corners downtown”
Salem’s way of no judgment has made itself home to people who come from places that have a lot of judgment. Even though the Salem Witch Trials were a horrible tragedy that happened, Salem learned from that mistake and made itself a welcoming home for anyone.
Surprisingly, I did not expect to learn about other parts of Salem’s history. I was very shocked when Cardin highlighted many parts of Salem’s history like, ”There was at one point, this was the wealthiest city in America … and we have beautiful architecture,”
At that moment, I felt like I understood that Salem is more than a small town that experienced the Salem witch trials, but is a town full of interesting history that is continuing to grow.
I would recommend Salem to anyone whether you just want an easy day trip or to learn some new things about Salem. Traveling to Salem would be one of a kind experience and taking the risk to try something new is the real thrill and you might do myth-busting of your own.