The Salem Witch Trials Podcast takes a fast-paced and episodic examination of the witch hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Each brief yet insightful episode harnesses the knowledge of an expert to help illuminate both the chronology of events as well the deeper context surrounding the hysteria, giving listeners an understanding of this fascinating and tragic event in early American history.
During the turbulent month of March 1692, accusations of witchcraft from a handful of girls turns into a full-blown crisis. In this episode, we unravel the events of this pivotal month to reveal the critical role that it played in turning the Salem witch hunt into an unprecedented disaster.
What do you think of when you hear the term ‘witch hunt?’
While the phrase has decidedly become loaded over the years, it often conjures up visions of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks. The Salem Witch Trials were most certainly a witch hunt, and decidedly unjust, but it’s important to remember that they were also actual trials with judgements that were handed down based on testimony, evidence and other time-tested methods of adjudication.
So, how could the system of failed so badly?
To help us understand this important question, we’re joined by Jane Campbell Moriarty, the Carol Los Mansmann Chair in Faculty Scholarship and Professor of Law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Professor Moriarty is an expert on evidence, neuroscience and law, and legal and judicial ethics, and she has studied and written about the evidence used during the Salem Witch Trials.
- Read Professor Moriarty’s article, “Wonders of the Invisible World Prosecutorial Syndrome and Profile Evidence in the Salem Witchcraft Trials,” in the Vermont Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 43