Cultural depictions of the Salem Witch Trials: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fanciful representation of the Salem witch trials, lithograph from 1892.

Cultural depictions of the Salem Witch Trials abound in art, literature and popular media in the United States, from the early 19th century to the present day.


The Salem witch trials in literature

  • Rachel Dyer (1820), by John Neal (1793-1876)
  • American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) wrote many poems about the episode, starting with "The Weird Gathering" (1831), and later, "Calef in Boston" (1849), about the public debates between Robert Calef and Cotton Mather in the aftermath of the trials.
  • Lois the Witch (1859), a novella by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), is based on the Salem witch hunts and depicts how jealousy and sexual desire can lead to hysteria. She was inspired by the story of Rebecca Nurse whose accusation, trial and execution are described in Lectures on Witchcraft, by Charles W. Upham, the Unitarian minister in Salem in the 1830s. Historical figure Cotton Mather makes an appearance in the story.
  • Salem: A Tale of the Seventeenth Century (1874), a historical novel by D. R. Castleton (Harper, New York) See: copy at the Internet Archive
  • The Witch of Salem, or Credulity Run Mad', by John R. Musick. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1893. Historical fiction set during the witchraft trials.
  • Ye lyttle Salem maide, a story of witchcraft (1898), a novel by Pauline Bradford Mackie (1873-?), Lamson, Wolffe and Co., Boston, 1898. See: copy at the Internet Archive
  • Dulcibel: A tale of old Salem by Henry Peterson, Philadelphia: John C. Winston, 1907. Historical fiction.
  • Various stories by H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) are set in the fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts, said to have been founded by refugees from the Salem trials. For example, in The Dreams in the Witch-House, the witch Keziah Mason, whose house the title comes from, is said to have fled Salem.
  • Road to Endor (1940) by Esther Hammand
  • I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1992), translated from the original French Moi, Tituba, sorcière noire de Salem (1986), by Maryse Conde, Conde freely imagines Tituba's childhood and old age, endows her with a contemporary social consciousness, and allows her to narrate the tale. ISBN 9780345384201
  • Acceptable Risk (1995), an adult medical thriller novel by Robin Cook (1940-living), with a plot that attributes the afflictions in Salem to an unusual mold that is rediscovered by present-day medical researchers.
  • Beyond the Burning Time (1996), a young adult novel by Kathryn Lasky, which depicts the trials through the eyes of a fictional young woman, Mary Chase.
  • Gallows Hill (1997) by Lois Duncan (1934-living) is young-adult fiction in which main character Sarah, and many others, turn out to be reincarnations of those accused and killed during the trials.
  • Dorcas Good, The Diary of a Salem Witch (1999) by Rose Earhart, is a fictional diary of remembrance by an adult character, based on her imprisonment as a child during the witchcraft trials, based on what happened to Dorothy Good. ISBN 9781893221000
  • Witch Child (2000) by Celia Rees, is a fictional story about a young woman in Puritan New England who was a healer and pagan. ISBN 9780763642280
  • I Walk in Dread: The Diary of Deliverance Trembly, Witness to the Salem Witch Trials, Massachusetts Bay Colony 1691 (Dear America Series) (2004), by Lisa Rowe Fraustino (1961-living), is young-adult historical fiction set during the Salem Witch Trials
  • In The Last Witchfinder (2006), a historical novel by James Morrow (1947-living), the Salem Witch Trials feature prominently.
  • "Oyer and Terminer," a sci-fi short story by Joe Masdon in the collection "Time Twisters" (Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg, eds, DAW, 2007), is set during the Salem witch trials
  • The Lace Reader (2008) by Brunonia Barry, is a psychological suspense novel based in Salem and refers to many aspects of the trials including the arrest of Bridget Bishop. ISBN 9780061624766
  • The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel (2008), by Kathleen Kent, is a fictionalized account of the case of Martha Carrier, as told from the point-of-view of her 10-year-old daughter, Sarah Carrier. ISBN 9780316024488
  • Time of the Witches (2009) by Ann Meyers is a story that describes a fictional character, Drucilla, as she grows up during the witch trials. Many real people, including Tituba, make appearances.

The Salem witch trials in popular culture and media




  • The television series Bewitched (1964-1972) includes six episodes in Season 7 (1970) that were filmed on location in Salem, with a plot that includes time travel to 1692. On June 15, 2005, the TV Land Network erected a bronze statue in Salem of Elizabeth Montgomery as the lead character, Samantha. TV Land spent $75,000 to install the sculpture in Salem's Lappin Park. It was sculpted by StudioEIS under the direction of brothers Elliott and Ivan Schwartz.[1]
  • Leonard Nimoy's television series In Search of... (1977-1982) aired Season 5, Episode 109: "Salem Witches" (1980)
  • The science-fiction TV show Voyagers! had the main characters, Bogg & Jeff, help Benjamin Franklin save his mother, Abaia Folger, from being hanged during the Salem witch trials in episode No. 4, "Agents of Satan," which first aired on October 31, 1982.
  • A television mini-series "Three Sovereigns for Sarah", starring Vanessa Redgrave, Kim Hunter, and Will Lyman, first aired on PBS on May 27, 1985.
  • In The Simpsons animated television comedy series (1989-present), a segment of the 1997 Halloween special episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" is based on the Salem witch trials.
  • Episode 348 of Season 19 of the sketch comedy series "Saturday Night Live" (first aired October 2, 1993) contained a skit depicting the "Salem Bitch Trials" in which Abigail Wolcott, played by Shannen Doherty (who played the part of Prue, a witch on the TV series Charmed, see below), is examined by Deputy Governor Danforth, played by Phil Hartman, on charges of "bitchcraft," with testimony given that she had told a woman her dress made her hips look big and snubbed a man's desire to court her because his surrey was not sufficiently fast, adorned or stylish. The sketch ends stating that she and 19 other women were burned at the stake.[2]
  • In the television series Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2000), in Season 1, Episode 23 (1997), "The Crucible," a class field trip goes to Salem to re-enact the trials. The warlock cat, Salem Saberhagen was named after the Salem Witch Trials.
  • In Histeria!, an animated television series for children (1998-2001), episode 36, "When America Was Young", included a People's Court-style sketch based upon the trials. View episode:
  • The History Channel's In Search of History (1996-2000) television series aired the episode "Salem Witch Trials" (1998).
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Gingerbread", Buffy Summers, Willow Rosenberg and Amy are sentenced to burn at the stake after the apparent sacrifice of two children in an occult ritual causes the town to be consumed in fear and paranoia.
  • In Charmed, a television series (1998-2006), part of the fictional background is that Melinda Warren, an ancestor of the three fictional protagonists, was burned at the stake in the Salem witch trials, having been betrayed by her lover. See Season 1, Episode 9, "The Witch Is Back" (1998) and Season 3, Episode 4, "All Halliwell's Eve" (2000) In Season 2, Episode 2, Phoebe is caught using witchcraft to commit a crime in the future.
  • PBS's television series Secrets of the Dead (2000-present) aired Season 2, Episode 1: "Witches' Curse" (2002), featuring Linnda R. Caporael
  • The History Channel aired a documentary "Witch Hunt" (2002).
  • Salem Witch Trials (2002), starring Kirstie Alley, Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov, was a television mini-series, airing in the UK as 4 parts, in the US on CBS in 2 parts.
  • The Discovery Channel's Unsolved History series (2002-2005) included Episode 23, "Salem Witch Trials" (2003)
  • Ghost Hunters, Season 3, Episode 17: "Salem Witch", originally aired October 24, 2007, explores the haunting of the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA, by the spirit of Bridget Bishop, one of the people executed in 1692.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Bonnie Bennett's ancestors were Salem witches, who fled Salem in 1692.

Comic Books

Unknown Worlds, September 1962, Issue No. 18, with the story "Witch Hunter of Salem"
  • Issue No. 18 in September 1962 of Unknown Worlds, from American Comics Group, contained an 11-page story called "Witch Hunter of Salem", depicted on the cover, in which the minister who was hunting witches in Salem turned out to be one. Zev Zimmer (Script), C. C. Beck (Pencils), Pete Costanza (Inks); Cover by Ogden Whitney.
  • "Visions of Hate!" appeared in the comic-book Marvel Team-Up in 1976, as part of a serialized story-line in which Spiderman, Vision, and the Scarlet Witch travel through time to Salem, 1692, to battle an arch-nemesis, Dr. Doom—who has enlisted the help of Cotton Mather -- get entangled in the witchcraft accusations. Pages 11–16 in particular depict the historical episode.


  • The 1962 opera The Crucible with music by Robert Ward and a libretto adapted lightly from Miller's play.
  • The Eye from the heavy metal singer King Diamond is about the Salem Witch Trials
  • The second album by the indie rock band Liars, They Were Wrong So We Drowned, is a concept album about the trials.
  • Rob Zombie's album Educated Horses (2006) contains many references to the trials, mainly in the song American Witch. His song, entitled Lords of Salem, also was based on this.
  • Jello Biafra had a side-project entitled The Witch Trials, and his work with the Dead Kennedys made a few references to them.
  • Canadian progressive rock band Rush's song "Witch Hunt" (from 1981's Moving Pictures) is about how manipulators can use fear to "possess" the "ignorant" masses to their liking, much like the Salem townspeople during the Witch Hunts.
  • Neal Peterson mentions Alice Parker in his song "I wind my clocks / OneSixNineTwo". Peterson is a descendant of Parker.
  • American death metal band Ishia have a song called "Witch Hunting in Salem".
  • American metalcore band Unearth wrote a song about Giles Corey named "Giles" for their album III: In the Eyes of Fire.
  • American black metal band Ceremonial Castings's 2008 album "Salem 1692" is based on the events and two members of the band are direct descendants of Judge John Hawthorne.
  • Abigail Williams, an American symphonic black metal band from Phoenix, AZ, take their name from one of the accusers in the trials.
  • Hunting For Witches by Bloc Party references the hysteria about witches in Salem and uses it as a metaphor for hysteria about immigration in contemporary Britain.
  • Burn the Witch by Queens of the Stone Age is about the Salem Witch Trials.
  • "The Dead Can't Testify" a song by Canadian rock group Billy Talent is based on the Salem with trials.
  • "Salem '76" a song by Mary Lou Lord is about the plight of a victim of the Salem Witch Trials
  • "Under a Killing Moon" a song by the rock band Thrice talks about Salem Witch Trials and the innocent people burned in them.
  • Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorn a short story depicting a faithful Puritan man who sees the member's of his town at a witch meeting and can no longer see the good in his world


Advertisement circa 1891 for Daniel Low, Salem, MA
  • Daniel Low, a jeweler in Salem, Massachusetts, began selling souvenir sterling "Witch" spoons in 1890, using two different patterns, the first with three pins, the word "Salem", and a witch on a broom. (See right)

19th Century Illustrations Depicting the Episode

The story of Salem featured prominently in many publications in the 19th century about the 17th century colonial foundations of the United States. The illustrations continue to be reproduced widely in 20th and 21st century publications, in many cases without accurate attribution or reference to the century in which the illustrations were created. This gallery includes their citations and the names, where known, of the artists who created them. Check the Wikimedia Commons for more that may not be included here.

19th & 20th century photographs of 17th century buildings related to the episode

Although a few of the houses that belonged to the participants in the Salem witch trials are still standing, many of these buildings have been lost. This gallery includes photographs take in the 19th century and early 20th century that preserve the visual record of these homes.

References and notes


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address