Cultural depictions of the Salem witch trials

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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 literary and dramatic depictions are discussed in Marion Gibson's Witchcraft Myths in American Culture (New York: Routledge, 2007) and see also Bernard Rosenthal's Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692

In literature[edit]

Pauline Bradford Mackie

In popular culture and media[edit]


Television and radio[edit]

Comic books[edit]

  • Issue No. 29 of Black Cat Mystery Comics, from June 1946, includes the cover story, "Black Cat Battles the Salem Witch."
  • "The Salem Terror" was a story published in Wanted Comics No. 13 in 1948. It was drawn by Maurice del Bourgo. The entire story has been scanned at Pappy's Gold Age Comics Blog, No. 920, March 28, 2011.
  • 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.
  • Marvel Team-Up in 1976, included a 4-part serialized story-line (Issues Nos. 41–44) in which Spider-Man, Vision and the Scarlet Witch travel through time to Salem, 1692, to battle Dr. Doom —- who has enlisted the help of Cotton Mather – get entangled in the witchcraft accusations. Pages 11–16 in particular in issue No. 42, "Visions of Hate!," depict the historical episode.
  • In Marvel's Fantastic Four vol. 1 #185, published in August 1977, the titular super-hero team discovers a hidden town in Colorado called New Salem in which the inhabitants are witches and warlocks, descendants of those who survived the Salem Trials. The inhabitants include Agatha Harkness, Nicholas Scratch and the Salem's Seven.
  • Salem: Queen of Thorns is a 5-issue comic (Nos. 0–4), the first issue published in 2006 and the rest in 2008 by Boom! The entire series was later compiled into a single volume: Salem: Queen of Thorns in February 2009 (ISBN 1-934506-46-X).


  • The 1962 opera The Crucible with music by Robert Ward and a libretto adapted lightly from Miller's play.
  • 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.
  • American punk-rock band AFI has a song "Malleus Maleficarum" on their CD Art of Drowning; the title is based on a book of the same name.
  • American ska-punk band Big D and the Kids Table released an EP in 2005 titled Salem Girls, which contains the titular song that documents one of the trials.
  • 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 based on 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 members of his town at a witch meeting and can no longer see the good in his world
  • Swedish heavy metal band Wolf wrote a song called "Curse You, Salem", a song about the trials.
  • Metalcore band Motionless in White released a song titled "Abigail" on their album Creatures about Abigail Williams and the Salem Witch Trials.
  • The Clutch album Blast Tyrant contains the track "(Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera" which is, as stated, notes from a witch trial, and how she exacted her revenge
  • The One-Eyed Doll concept album Witches is based on the trials.
  • Melodic metalcore band The Raven Age released a song titled "Salem's Fate" on their debut album Darkness Will Rise.
  • Texas rock Band Nothing More released the song "Salem", featured on their third studio album The Few Not Fleeting.
  • Connecticut musician Dan Barrett from Have a Nice Life released music under the pseudonym "Giles Corey", including an album of the same name.
  • Taylor Swift released a song "Mad Woman" about female rage, on her lockdown album "Folklore" referencing hunting witches.

Video games[edit]

  • The 1997 game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has an enemy called Salem Witch that sometimes drops Shortcake, possibly a reference to Witch cake.
  • The 2013 game Murdered: Soul Suspect features the Salem Witch Trials as the motivation for a modern serial killer
  • The 2014 online multiplayer strategy game Town of Salem is a more comical version of the Salem Witch Trials, set primarily to the theme of the "Mafia" party game.
  • The 2015 videogame Fallout 4, which depicts an alternate future of a post-apocalyptic Boston (referred to in-game as "The Commonwealth"), contains a reimagined version of the town of Salem, including a "Salem Museum of Witchcraft".
  • Salem is one of "Epic of Remnant" chapter in Fate/Grand Order smartphone mobile game, briefly based on Salem, Massachusetts of the year 1692.


  • In the web series RWBY, the character Salem, who is both the narrator and one of the main villains, is named after the town.
  • "The Haunting of the Salem Witch Trials", released on May 26, 2017, is episode 8 of season 2 of BuzzFeed web series, BuzzFeed Unsolved: Supernatural, in which the trials and the theories that surround them are discussed, and the possible ghosts of Salem as a result of the trails are investigated.


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[edit]

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 and 20th century photographs of 17th century buildings related to the episode[edit]

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[edit]

  1. ^ Neal, John (1996). Rachel Dyer. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-57392-049-0.
  2. ^ Whittier, John Greenleaf (1965). Legends of New England, 1831: A Facsim. Reproduction, with an Introd. by John B. Pickard. Scholar's Facsimiles & Reprints.
  3. ^ "Calef In Boston (John Greenleaf Whittier)". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Project Gutenberg E-text of Mosses from an Old Manse and Other Stories, by Nathaniel Hawthorne". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Forest, John William De (1967). Witching Times. College & University Press.
  6. ^ "Lois the Witch". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth (1900). Giles Corey of the Salem farms. Boston, New York etc.: Houghton, Mifflin & co.
  8. ^ Freeman, Mary Eleanor Wilkins; Shaw, Thomas Shuler (1893). Giles Corey, yeoman: a play. Harper's black and white series. New York: Harper & Bros.
  9. ^ Lovece, Joseph A.; Montgomery, Richard R. (March 5, 2015). The Witch Hunter's Wards Or, the Hunted Orphans of Salem. Createspace Independent Pub. ISBN 978-1-5084-4004-8.
  10. ^ Peterson, Henry; Pyle, Howard (February 11, 2007). Dulcibel: A Tale of Old Salem.
  11. ^ ""The Dreams in the Witch House" by H. P. Lovecraft". Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  12. ^ Cadman, Charles Wakefield (1926). A Witch of Salem: Grand Opera in Two Acts. O. Ditson Company.
  13. ^ Forbes, Esther (1928). A Mirror for Witches. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-8488-0050-5.
  14. ^ Hammand, Esther Barstow (1940). Road to Endor. Farrar & Rinehart.
  15. ^ Miller, Arthur (October 14, 1996). "Why I Wrote "The Crucible"". The New Yorker.
  16. ^ Petry, Ann (September 8, 2015). Tituba of Salem Village. Open Road Media. ISBN 978-1-5040-1987-3.
  17. ^ Jackson, Shirley (1956). The Witchcraft of Salem Village. Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-89176-7.
  18. ^ Schonberg, Harold C. (October 27, 1961). "Opera: Robert Ward's 'The Crucible'; Work Based on Miller Play at City Center (Published 1961)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  19. ^ Jalalzai, Zubeda (Summer–Fall 2009). "Historical Fiction and Maryse Condé's "I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem"". African American Review. 43: 413–425 – via JSTOR.
  20. ^ Salem Bitch Trial
  21. ^ Fries, Laura (February 27, 2003). "Salem Witch Trials". Variety. Retrieved November 24, 2018.