Welcome to a digital collection of materials about the Salem witch trials crisis of 1692-1693 and its aftermath. Several types of content make up this collection and its sub-collections: original documents from 1692, items related to PEM exhibitions about the witch trials, and more. This collection will grow steadily over time as more material is digitized.
From 1980 to 2023, PEM’s Phillips Library was the temporary repository of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court collection of Witch Trial documents. These legal records, which were returned to the Judicial Archives following the expansion and modernization of the Massachusetts State Archives facility, are available to researchers around the world thanks to a comprehensive digitization project undertaken by the museum.
Massachusetts Court of Oyer and Terminer trial documents
Original documents from the trials and their aftermath. These records include declarations, arrest warrants, summonses, mittmuses, and a death warrant.
Centuries after this storied crisis, the personal tragedies and grievous wrongs of the Salem Witch Trials continue to provoke reflection, reckoning and a search for meaning. The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) holds one of the world’s most important collections of objects and architecture related to the Salem Witch Trials. Through exhibitions, research, publishing and public programming, PEM is committed to telling the story of the Salem Witch Trials in ways that honor the victims and amplify the teachings of wrongful persecution that remain relevant to today.
Since the 300th year anniversary in 1992, the Peabody Essex Museum has hosted four exhibitions about the Salem witch trials. Each collection below presents the text, graphics, gallery photography, and other interpretive materials, as well as the original documents that were on display during the gallery exhibitions.
Days of Judgment
As part of a citywide tercentenary memorial of the 300th anniversary of the Salem witch trials, the exhibition Days of Judgment sought to examine the trials in the context of political and social events which had created an atmosphere of crisis and impending doom in the Massachusetts colony in the final decades of the seventeenth century.
The Salem Witch Trials 1692
Rarely-exhibited documents and objects from the museum’s collection, including the death warrant for the execution of Bridget Bishop, the first of 19 people to be hanged, as well as petitions from the accused, invoices from the jail keeper, direct testimony from accusers and the physical examinations of the accused.
Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming
Authentic 17th-century documents and objects combined with two creative responses by contemporary artists with ancestral links to the trials provided a powerful connection between past and present as we continue to reckon with the tragedies and traumas of those involved.
Explore more about the witch trials from the Peabody Essex Museum
Collection Focus: The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 at PEM
Homepage of the Salem Witch Trials collection and exhibition materials at the Peabody Essex Museum
Salem witch trials walk
A 90-minute, self-guided audio walking tour, which takes you inside the galleries and outside the museum to view authentic documents and objects and stop at key sites around Salem while PEM curators and experts share their behind-the-scenes perspectives.
See also these sites for more information and resources about the witch trials:
The Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive is an electronic collection of primary source materials hosted by the University of Virginia.
A guide to the primary sources of the Salem witch trials is a free portal to make it easier to access the on-line primary sources of the witch trials.