Episode 053: Emerson W. Baker, A Storm of Witchcraft

Baker A Storm of Witchcraft

Do you believe in the supernatural? In ghosts, zombies, or perhaps witches?

Today we celebrate All Hallows Eve with an exploration of the specters and witches that haunted 17th-century Massachusetts.

Our guide for this exploration is Emerson W. Baker, author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience.


About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with an historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Episode Summary

Emerson_BakerIn this episode, Emerson W. Baker, a professor of history and archaeology at Salem State University and author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, leads us on an exploration of the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

During our exploration, Tad reveals details about late seventeenth-century Massachusetts and Salem; Information about the people involved in the trials; And what happened after the trials.

Tad also discusses how the people of Salem worked to heal their community and put the trials behind them.


What You’ll Discover

  • How Tad became interested in witchcraft in 17th-century New England
  • Overview of New England in 1692
  • The Massachusetts Charter of 1692
  • Early history of Salem, Massachusetts
  • Differences between Salem Village and Salem Town
  • Overview of the Salem witchcraft trials
  • Details about Samuel Parris and his family
  • Information about those afflicted by witchcraft
  • Who stood accused of practicing witchcraft
  • Testimony about manifestations of witchcraft
  • Theories about why “witch mania” took hold in Massachusetts
  • Details about the case of John Proctor who accused his servant of witchcraft
  • Legal proceedings of the witch trials
  • Information about the judges who presided over the trials
  • Statistics about the number of witchcraft executions
  • How the witchcraft trials led to the limitation of freedom of the press
  • The process of community healing after the witchcraft trials
  • Salem as a destination for Halloween tourism


Links to People, Places, and Publications


Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion what might have happened if Sir William Phips and Cotton Mather hadn’t worked to end the witch trials? How many more people might have stood accused and died? How would the history of Massachusetts Bay and New England be different?

Questions, Comments, Suggestions

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Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.



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