Where Women Made History Travel Itinerary Header
Salem Village

Salem Village Salem Village Parsonage Archeological Site
Photograph by Richard B. Trask. Courtesy of Danvers Archival Center.

Salem Village Nurse Homestead
Photograph by Richard B. Trask. Courtesy of Danvers Archival Center.

The Salem Village Historic District in Danvers contains several buildings and sites associated with the now-infamous Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692-1693. Here, several young girls accused hundreds of older women of “bewitching” them. In 17th-century Massachusetts, social values and traditions largely confined colonial women to domestic arenas. “Proper” women rarely ventured onto the public stage; their active participation in public affairs, in fact, often indicated unusual events or stresses in the society-at-large. Although no one knows for certain why the Salem Witch hysteria began, some historians point to economic factors, while others insist on religious and psychological pressures. Regardless, in 1692, Elizabeth Parris, the daughter of Salem minister Samuel Parris, and her cousin, Abigail Williams, began to fall into “fits.” A local doctor determined that the girls were victims of witchcraft, and before long, other neighborhood girls also began to have “fits.” The afflicted girls accused three village women of witchcraft--Sarah Osburn, Sarah Good and Rev. Parris’ slave, Tituba. Before a magistrate, Good and Osburn proclaimed their innocence, but Tituba told a strange tale of meetings with the devil. She likewise revealed that other witches still lived in the area. The magistrates placed the three women in jail. Soon, Abigail, Elizabeth and the other girls began accusing other women of witchcraft; by the end of May, more than 150 “witches” had been jailed. As the hysteria spread, accused and imprisoned "witches" afraid for their lives began to confess to witchcraft. In June, the crisis worsened when a full court convened and quickly sentenced Bridget Bishop to death. By September, 18 people had refused to confess and were hanged, including 71-year old Rebecca Nurse. Cooler heads eventually prevailed in early 1693, and the court disallowed the “spectral evidence” of Elizabeth Parris, Abigail Williams and other accusers. This brought an end to the witch hysteria. Today, Salem Village is now called Danvers, where several properties related to the witch trials are open to the public.

The Nurse Homestead is operated as a house museum and is located at 149 Pine St. in Danvers, MA. The property is open 1-4:30 pm Tues.-Sat. from June 15 through Labor Day and 1-4:30 pm Sat.-Sun. during Sept. and Oct. Please call 978-774-8799 for more information. The majority of the Salem Village Historic District, which includes many other sites associated with the Witch Trials of 1692, is located along Centre St.

Home | List of Sites | Main Map | Eastern MA Map | Next Site

Comments or Questions
Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST