The Salem Witch Trials have provided inspiration for film (what up, Hocus Pocus?), for theater (The Crucible ring any bells?), and for young adult literature (any Witch of Blackbird Pond fans out there?). The moment in American history is fascinating for its unique blend of the supernatural and psychology, as fear and mob mentality led to wild accusations in an attempt to explain what people didn’t understand.
So although it’s not really magic as we know it today, there’s plenty to learn in what academia has dug up about magic’s witchy cousin. The Law and Magic Blog recently resurfaced two articles about the Salem Witch Trials for you history buffs to check out.
The first is by Douglas Linder of the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Law, who explores the circumstances that helped create the wave of hysteria that saw people accusing women of witchcraft.
Second, Rebecca Eaton from Victoria University of Wellington penned a piece about the spectral evidence presented in those trials. The very concept of proving the supernatural is an odd legal question, but she argues that the spectral evidence was used legitimately at the time.