Where Have the Salem Witchcraft Documents Been Since 1692?

This is the story of where the Salem Witchcraft documents have all been over the years since 1692, why some have been moved, and what the story is of the fascination with and preservation of the original manuscripts of this unique event in Massachusetts history. Margo Burns, MA, (salemwitchhunt.org), the Project Manager and Associate Editor of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, published in 2009 tells the story of the documents pertaining to the Salem witchcraft trials at Boston History Camp on August 12, 2023. Click here fora 44-minute recording of her presentation.

Ms. Burns (above, left) begins her story of where the records originated and where they have been moved over the years since Cotton Mather (above, right) and others recorded what happened during that time.

Many people over the centuries have felt that same intensity about seeing the originals. In the early 1980s, that Court transferred the manuscripts of the Court of Oyer & Terminer into the care of the Phillips Library of the Essex Institute, the predecessor of the Peabody Essex Museum. In 2018, the Museum announced that it was moving them to its new state-of-the-art Collection Center in Rowley, despite public uproar that they were being moved out of Salem, where many people felt strongly that they belonged.

Recently, the manuscripts were moved again, this time to where they actually do belong: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives at Columbia Point in Boston, joining another cache of original records of the episode.